The Queen's Gambit (Netflix) - Discussion thread
I finished this the other day and given how popular it is, I'm surprised there's been no discussion thread here. No spoilers in this top post but go ahead with spoilery discussion in comments.
- Network: Netflix
- Format: 7 episodes mini-series (45-70min runtime)
- Drama set in the 60s-80s, based on a book, that follows an orphan chess prodigy and follows her as she grows up into the chess world.
I'll greatly recommend it. Quick and high quality. Wonderful acting.
This series really isn't about chess. It's about a young girl, excelling at something that 1950's culture told her she simply could not do. It just so happens, the thing she is really good at, is chess. She is in fact wildly successful at it.
There is also a meta point here.
So the meta point is that everyone told Allan he couldn't make a series about someone playing chess. He did it any way. And he was wildly successful.
There are a number of moments during the show, where they really could have ratcheted up the tension, but they did not. I wonder if they deliberately cut the series short to keep costs low, and reduce overall watch time.
The period scene flies by. Was the blood going to keep leaking? Would she was going to walk out of the critical match? It was surprisingly subtle and short lived.
Because seriously, who would want to watch a fictional story about some girl playing chess? Yet it was the most gripping series in 2020.
Ah, yes. I thought that period scene was very tropey. I watched the series with a (female) friend of mine and called it out before it happened, it was pretty funny: "I bet you she's going to get her first period." (scene) "How the fuck did you know that?"
I thought it was a bit disappointing to think that it was that predictable. There's pretty much no other reason to have a scene with a young girl in a public bathroom. But as I'm not in the habit of getting periods, I can't really judge it on its quality; it felt otherwise fine and I agree it was nice to not have it be a whole dramatic thing. Would love to hear some thoughts from women on this.
Big +1 in general on avoiding overuse of dramatic moments. At no time during the series did I feel like it was being cheap with the plot.
I really liked about it that all the chess dudes really just welcomed her into their community. It's been a while, but I don't remember any annoying fucking subplot about the main character having to earn her status because everyone looked down on her. It was only the janitor at the start, everyone else saw her play and was like "Welp, she's a prodigy, let's go."
Yup, I really appreciated that as well. All in all it's just a nice story. And it's just as enthralling, it doesn't need the cheap tropes you'd normally expect in such a series. Which makes me think a lot about how often TV/movie quality is severely diminished by that.
I think one of the reasons this show was wildly popular because while it was about someone excelling in something society doesn't expect them to, it wasn't filled with the usual me against the world tropes. The orphanage wasnt filled with bullies, the janitor wasnt a creep, the chess people weren't massive dickheads because she was a woman, her adoptive parents weren't abusive, the people around her were by and large supportive of her trailblazing, if a bit bemused by the whole thing. It was a breathe of fresh air.
I did start playing chess again after watching it.
I read the book decades ago, loved it, seriously got into chess for several years (in part) because of it.
I have not yet seen the series, but it's on my short list....
For some reason, the Real World version of this girl rarely turns up in discussions about the series. Judit Polgar has been, by far, the greatest female chess player of all time. When she earned her Grandmaster title, she was the youngest person ever to do so, breaking Bobby Fischer's record. The story of her family (particularly her father) is even more interesting. The series is not based on her, AFAIK, but in its own way, her story is just as fascinating.
I thought it was fun to watch anya taylor joy go on good dates with nice boys. That was most of the draw for me.
I really liked Queen's Gambit. I'm not a chess player by any measure, but I could tell that the people who made the series really liked the detail and strategy of the game.
This is maybe a little bit "why didn't you make the show I wanted you to make," but towards the end when
SpoilersBeth is in Russia and the U.S. government assigns her an agent from some alphabet agency, I got a *taste* of cold war political drama playing a role in the story, but they didn't really go anywhere with that. I feel a little like that was a missed opportunity, but I really enjoy that kind of thing, and I'm probably just wishing the show aligned more with my tastes.
I was really impressed that they used period music without it being cloying. Having come of age in the 80s, I really soured on music from the 60s because it was always accompanied by some asshole talking about how great it was and how music these days sucked. It was refreshing to hear some of the less well-worn songs from the era.