The Queen’s Gambit sucks and anyone enjoying it is lying to themselves


I started watching The Queen’s Gambit last week because a close friend of my family said that it “changed her life”. “Don’t worry about the chess,” she said, “it’s actually really good.” For days I sat and felt the words “changed my life, changed my life, changed my life” echo around my head. So I resisted my natural feelings of hesitation about watching a chess show and dove in headfirst. Safe to say, that family friend is no longer a friend of mine.

The Queen’s Gambit fucking sucks. I’m sorry I had to say it. I’ve been wanting to SCREAM it out of my window every night like the now defunct NHS clap but I’ve held it in. Until today. All I see on social media and in reviews is people saying it’s astounding, it’s certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s “LIFE CHANGING”. But it’s not!!! It’s a chess show where the sexy bad boy character dresses like Crocodile Dundee and the main character has the same haircut for the ENTIRE series. Name one person who has the same haircut as when they were eight years old. You can’t! Because they don’t!

Let me break it down for you: here are all the reasons this Nightmare Show has been playing on my mind like an imaginary chessboard on the ceiling for the past week and a half.

It’s literally about… chess

I don’t play chess or understand it, nor do I care to understand it. This means all of the chess scenes mean as much to me as two people moving tiny blocks of wood around on a mini black and white dancefloor, except it’s not a dancefloor it’s a fucking chessboard and it’s BORING.

Am I supposed to feel something when King goes to D3 or something? Because I don’t! Honestly, I’d have had a much better time if the whole series was people playing that death trap lifesize chess from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, and people actually died every time they lost. Would cut out some of the more boring characters too, which brings me to…

Not a single character is compelling

Look, I like Anya Taylor-Joy and she plays a good part. But she gets away with not doing a lot of acting because she has such big eyes. Really, all she does is stare. Also, small Love Actually boy who is now big Love Actually man is a magnificent meme of a character, but I can’t help feel like they actually wanted me to take him seriously? Like they actually wanted me to be sexually attracted to the cool bad boy of chess because he wears a hat, has an awful leather coat and half a moustache to match. No! I shan’t.

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say the best character is legitimately… Dudley from Harry Potter. Maybe that’s because of my natural preference for men with eyes slightly too close together, or maybe that’s because I was caught off guard by him being quite fit now. Maybe I fancy Dudley from Harry Potter, so what! He’s the only character that actually made me feel something and that’s saying a lot after about six hours watching Anya Tayor-Joy’s massive fucking eyeballs.

The only other plot point is substance abuse

I thought we were long past the days of female characters being made more interesting or sexier because their one dimensional nature is offset with their ravenous love for drugs, but Queen’s Gambit girl (I forget her name) topples Effy Stonem off her towering podium. If you legitimately asked me to explain her main qualities, they are: obsessed with chess, likes a bit of drinky drinky sniffy sniffy, and… obsessed with chess. That is it.

I could handle the tranquilisers if only for the comedic payoff of mini Anya Taylor-Joy breaking into the school pharmacy to shove them into her mouth and pass out like that possum that snuck into a bakery and ate so many pastries he couldn’t move. But the rest of the chess being offset by the main characters just getting a bit drunk or high every now and then? It’s not enough to make me forget the chess. In a similar fashion to that infamous Peep Show scene, the more The Queen’s Gambit tries to offer me drugs the more I want to say “no thanks I’m full”.

They fully tried to fool us with that stupid fringe

Anya Taylor-Joy and young Anya Taylor-Joy look nothing alike. But the costume department made an oh so subtle change to her younger counterpart’s appearance so we know they’re actually the same person. It’s so small you’d barely notice it. A particular freckle, you ask? An earring? A kind of mannerism? No. They gave her the SAME HAIRCUT FOR THE WHOLE SERIES. WHO DOES THAT! If you meet anyone – anyone – that has had the same bowl-cut-with-fringe they had when they were six years old you need to run because that is not normal behaviour.

Also, HOW is Anya Taylor-Joy meant to be TWELVE YEARS OLD here?

They’re taking us for fools now.

It was way longer than it needed to be

The first episode was good, I’ll give you that. I was actually so invested that my enjoyment lasted for two more episodes. But then it kept going. And going. And gooooing. More chess matches. More winning. Oh no, one loss. Lots of drinking. Boy with stupid hat is back. A cheeky bit of sex. I’m back in. But then more chess. I’ve clocked out again. More chess. More chess. Breakdown. Ends with chess.

WHY? It could have been so much better as a three or four-part series and if it had been… perhaps I wouldn’t be here writing this review. Perhaps Anya Taylor-Joy’s fake mum would still be alive if she had just played chess a bit faster, and perhaps the cold war would have been over earlier! Yeah, I went there. All in all it was a waste of time and I’m hitting the big fat stop button on the metaphorical chess clock of The Queen’s Gambit. No more!

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