Honest, Unpopular Opinion: Queen’s Gambit was Poorly Written

Jun Kim
3 min readJan 4, 2021

The popular Netflix series ‘Queen’s Gambit’ was successful to the art extent, yet failed miserably as a script.

Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon in ‘The Queen’s Gambit’

Hearing several peers over this show and most of them loved it and felt overwhelmingly intrigued to start learning the ‘art and essence’ of chess. With all due respect, I’ve done chess club in my elementary years and only joined to make me look a little smart but overall hated it because it was too hard, to outplay someone with this kind of brainpower. Not saying chess is horrible or anything. I’ve got to admit ‘Queen’s Gambit’ has caused a large audience to start ordering chess boards off of Amazon and start becoming the new beautiful-smart Beth Harmon.

She was a new type of character and no one hated her, however, she’s not relatable. Anya Taylor-Joy is a beautiful, amazing actress and did a great job in expressing Beth Harmon but the writers could have done a little more research into Beth’s personality, mental state, and drug abuse. No girl can just suddenly walk out of drugs and alcohol within a couple of days and still perfectly play chess in Russia like none of that ever happened. The lack of shown personality and struggles in her was crystal clear. We can see her drinking, abusing the tranquility drugs, and studying a lot but not the struggling process of her climbing out of it. Maybe a friendly visit from her old friend but that can’t possibly pull her out of a dark hole. There were a lot of plot holes that could have been put into more detail to expose the more broken side of Beth.

The money that was put into this production was definitely invested in a lot of the art direction, actors/actresses, yet the script lacked poorly. The whole plot was just a disappointment, with the art direction being a distraction to the key story. The audience is kept waiting, pushing through each episode to see whether there would be a build-up or at least some climatic twist somewhere, yet it only reached a plateau. Sure the main climax was Beth reaching Russia, but her relationship with other characters also seemed flimsy. You could hardly feel real connections within Beth and all the other characters around, not even the rude characters. There were too many simple conversations with one another, awkward to watch, and just not in-depth.

Beth Harmon’s main weakness was her anger and stubbornness when it came to playing chess. She was considered to be hot-headed, along her chess playing was offensive. All she could think about was being sure that she could win each game. If there were more scenes of Beth’s struggles internally with the chessboard, there could have been a reassurance that she was truly connected and attached to the chess pieces. Although that was also characterized poorly.

The art direction in photography, setting, and costumes was absolutely gorgeous. I do appreciate that more time and investments are being put into the mise-en-scene. Many may agree or disagree with my opinion but it’s only an opinion. I always read other reviews and people’s opinions. Hope this helps with how others feel as well.