Checkmate to the Queen’s Gambit

Deborah Marshall

The Frank Scott miniseries follows the fictional Beth Harmon (played by Anya Taylor-Joy), a chess prodigy who struggles with addiction as she dominates in the sport. The series follows her beginnings as an orphan and the troubles she faced as a teenager.

Our plot extends over the mid-1950s to throughout the 1960s. Based on Walter Tevis’s 1983 novel, the narrative is brilliantly conceived and the series is very binge-worthy. Combining that with the visuals and acting, this may well be the best Netflix Original show of 2020.

Though the first episode may flounder a little, once Taylor-Joy is introduced in episode two, it’s smooth sailing. Her performance is electric and magnetic.

Combined with her work on The Witch (2015) and Split (2016), I would not be surprised if the 24-year-old actress won an Oscar by the time she’s 30.

As Beth Harmon develops and goes through more major life experiences, the actress envelops the character and makes you feel attached, especially through her addiction issues.

One issue in the show is the reoccurring motif of chess pieces on the ceiling. It is supposed to represent Beth’s mind when she is on drugs.

This animation was fine the first time, but we see it so much throughout the show and it lasts for so long that it just seems like wasted screen time. Despite this, the show’s visuals are beautiful.

The 1950s and 1960s are probably two of the best decades to set a period piece. The interior design and costumes are stunning to look at.

Beth Harmon’s outfits change throughout the show to be gorgeous and I could write an essay about the outfits she wears in the last episode alone.

Overall, the show explores the thin line between genius and madness. Mental health is an important theme that is explored. Anya Taylor-Joy perfectly portrays how addiction can completely debilitate a person and prevent them from function.

She is so elegant and exact in her acting, her performance is a standout for 2020.

I would recommend giving this show a watch, even if you have no interest in chess.

Deborah Marshall

Image Credit: IMDB