I am the type of person who becomes obsessed with new hobbies or learning new skills after watching an inspiring series or movies that showcase these things; the series The Queen's Gambit was one that suddenly piqued my interest in chess. However, knowing my personality when it comes to inspirational movies or T.V. series, I refrained from downloading multiple chess apps on my phone or physical chess sets that I knew would be left in the corner of my house untouched. However, the series taught me far more than the rules of chess; it taught me some of the rules of life.
In The Queen's Gambit, although the main character, Beth Harmon played by Anya Taylor-Joy, seemed to be continuously seeing almost inhuman amounts of successes, she is far from perfect, which makes her character far more relatable and human. Outside of the world of chess, Beth is an orphan and soon becomes a drug addict. Her drug addiction intensifies the greater her obsession with chess becomes. Yet, even as Beth experiences many successes through chess, she also experiences many mishaps as continues her personal growth.
Beth seems to be quite self-centred both as a child and well into her late adolescence, which the series reinforces through the awkward social interactions and relationships she has with others—even those who should be the closest to her. Just as the viewers believe that Beth has obtained a stroke of luck when she is chosen for adoption instead of her close friend, Jolene, we quickly realize that her new family is far from perfect much like herself.
Although Beth is often able to quickly predict the moves of her opponents, she seems to lack the ability to predict the twists and turns throughout her life. Yet, whenever she is ready to give up everything she has worked for thus far, figures from her past appear to help her resume her path towards personal growth.
It appears that the characters that Beth encounters throughout the series are all struggling with their inner demons, her adoptive mother in particular, who almost seems to be a parallel of Beth herself and who foreshadows Beth's future if she continues to be indifferent towards others and selfish in her actions. Beth's adoptive mother, an alcoholic and drug addict, is not able to reverse the mistakes that she constantly makes during her lifetime where she often abandons those closest to her for short bouts of passion and desire. Yet, what Beth's adoptive mother eventually teaches Beth upon her death is that there is a world outside of chess, which Beth at the time is overtly fixated on achieving ultimate success in, and how her relationships with others may be worth much more than winning tournaments.
Ultimately, this series highlights the coming of age story of Beth Harmon through her journey through the world of chess where she experiences both successes and failures, as well as moments of plateau when she is too stubborn to learn from those around her. This stubbornness seems to speak about the often rebellious and overconfident nature of individuals going through the adolescence stage where they experience a crisis of identity as they attempt to navigate through the unfamiliar society as upcoming adults. Particularly in Beth case, she lacked role models growing up other than the janitor at her orphanage who seemed to teach her about life through the game of chess, but Beth did not seem to realize the impact that the janitor, Mr. Shaibel, had on her life and how it was he who guided her into society outside of the orphanage rather than the parents who adopted her, until near the end of the series when she seemed to reach a certain level of understanding about herself and her place in the world.
For anyone who is at low moments in their life or seem to be struggling with balancing their social and work life, this series is great for not only those in their adolescence who are still trying to figure out how to navigate through the world but also for those who have long since reached their adulthood, yet need a little reminder of how far they have come and what should be held at a greater value within their lives.