All the Problems I Have with The Queen's Gambit and Why It's Nothing But Entertainment


(The Queen's Gambit)

Ok, there has been so much buzz about The Queen's Gambit (2020) saying it's the best Netflix show in 2020, which I agree, since there haven't been many good live-action TV shows this year anyways. As much as I find the show entertaining, I will say that The Queen's Gambit is nothing more than a well-made, feel-good show that is empty and shallow to its core (sorry but not sorry). If you haven't picked up a knife and try to come after me yet (please don't), here are the problems I have with The Queen's Gambit.

Problem #1: Beth Harmon

Beth Harmon, the genius chess player, the heroine who beats all those men in chess tournaments in the 60s with a brain that is cooler than a cucumber. Such an exciting character, isn't it? Beth Harmon can play chess in her head since she was 3 feet tall! And Ana Taylor-Joy, gotta give her that, she is as perfect as a porcelain doll and her acting skill is superb! I was really sucked into the show because of how well Beth Harmon was portrayed. 

Personally, I believe the character with the 60s setting sends a problematic message in an extremely lazy way. Even though it is not saying that girls can beat guys with sheer talent in a sexist environment, the story, the characters, and the show's visual design are obviously suggesting that.

(The Queen's Gambit)

I am not against Beth Harmon being an attractive genius with attitude, but for a show sets in the 60s, she had it easy, too easy. Sure, this show is not about fighting for equal rights necessarily, but a feel-good story, so not everything has to be historically correct. But here is the thing: in a rather sexist decade, Beth Harmon did not have to face any of the sexism, which is a little insulting for women in general. And it is not even a fairytale covered under nostalgia because literally, every female character around Harmon suffers from sexism except for her. 

Harmon's mother was brave enough to get a divorce but couldn't support herself and Harmon and killed herself. Her foster mother was abandoned by her husband and later her boyfriend; she eventually died alone. Her high school classmate married young and became a housewife for the rest of her life (I assume). It seems that Harmon's existence is to tell the audiences that it is stupid, dull, and depressing to follow the traditional path, and those pathetic women made all the wrong decisions.

(The Queen's Gambit)

But Harmon, she was invincible from this toxic era. Every man is nice and helpful because she is a genius, which isn't even the case in today's world. It's telling me that the only way to protect yourself from the bad things of being a girl is to be a genius. Even the hot, free-spirited model has to be suicidal and humbles herself to the ground when she is with Harmon. 

Problem #2: The Male Characters

The male characters are as ridiculous as the female characters and are also flat like pancakes. Harmon has three love interests: Harry Beltik, Benny Watts, and Towns. She beats Beltik and Watts in two different tournaments, and Towns is just another chess player that she didn't get to sleep with. These men, although very different, are nothing but helpers to Harmon. Yes, helpers. They just kind of show up whenever Harmon is in some sort of trouble or in need of help.

(The Queen's Gambit)

Other than being Harmon's helpers, you hardly know anything about them, and they do not serve any other purposes in the story. Also, Beltik and Watt's relationship with Harmon both follows the same pattern: Harmon beats them in tournaments, they offer to train her, live with her, sleep with her, fall in love with her, and eventually, get dumped by her. In the last episode, Harmon represents the US and plays against the best chess player in Russian. Those two Eskimo brothers and Towns gather in one room and strategize for her as if they are best buds. Looks like it takes one genius woman to bring all men together. So yeah, helpers, and nothing more. 

Problem #3: The Laziness Behind the Building the Characters

After finishing the show, I realized why I dislike it so much: it is the laziness behind building the characters. It is not that I have a problem with this show or the book been written by men, but how arrogant of them thinking it is easy to please the audiences who believe in feminism and female power. Here is the thing, the reason for the characters being so unnatural and ridiculous is that the writers just take a story about a man we have seen thousands of times and flipped the genders. 

Besides being a woman, Beth Harmon does not act, think or face the same problems as any woman in the 60s or now. And the men? They are all very kind and supportive, a little too lovely for men in the 60s. I'm not saying that we have to have shows that only have stereotypical characters, but all of them are that nice, supportive, and…beta? Come on! 

Take, let's say, Aviator (2004), a film about a legendary figure's career, almost has a similar story: a genius who succeeds in nearly every area he sets his foot in, and his only real enemy are his past and his mental issue. Much like Aviator, Harmon's only problem is drug addiction, which hardly has any consequence and is done and over with in one episode.

(The Queen's Gambit)

See the problem there? The reason why Aviator works is that it is a well-made, well-written biopic about a real person. Yet, The Queen's Gambit is a fictional show using a typical story about male heroes with the facade of Hollywood's recent favored phrase, "female-driven." No, it is not interested in discussing any realities females face, but the glamorous style of the 60s. I would not have as many problems with it if anything about this story is real, but it is not. How easy it was for a woman living in the 60s to get all the support she needs from every man she meets is simply a slap in the face for women from the past and now because it is simply not the case. If you are really looking to make a story about a female legend, think Hedy Lamarr, for God's sake.

(Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story)


As many problems I have with  The Queen's Gambit (2020), I enjoyed watching it. The production value, acting, and directing are exceptional. But if you try to search for anything more than entertainment value in this show, forget about it. It is nothing but a wet dream.

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Oh hi, all I have here are useless personal thoughts and comments on local and international news and whatnot.

Los Angeles, CA

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