Netflix's The Queen's Gambit is a smash hit. The new limited series has become Netflix's most-watched scripted limited series ever, having racked up views in a reported 62 million households in its first 28 days streaming on the service. In addition to that, Netflix reports that Queen's Gambit has made the top 10 in 92 countries, while being ranked #1 in 63 of those countries. The novel the series is based on has now entered the New York Times bestseller list (nearly 40 years after it came out), while the show has inspired an exponential uptick in searches on how to play chess, while chess sets are selling out like crazy.
A record-setting 62 million households chose to watch The Queen’s Gambit in its first 28 days, making it Netflix's biggest scripted limited series to date. pic.twitter.com/TVC3p4i5Bv— Netflix (@netflix) November 23, 2020
If you haven't been watching, here's a synopsis about The Queen's Gambit:
"Nine year-old orphan Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy) is quiet, sullen, and by all appearances unremarkable. That is, until she plays her first game of chess. Her senses grow sharper, her thinking clearer, and for the first time in her life she feels herself fully in control. By the age of sixteen, she's competing for the U.S. Open championship. But as Beth hones her skills on the professional circuit, the stakes get higher, her isolation grows more frightening, and the thought of escape becomes all the more tempting. Based on the book by Walter Tevis."
The Queen's Gambit has been highly praised for its 1960s production design, as well as the performances of lead actress Anya Taylor-Joy (New Mutants, Split, The Witch), and Harry Melling (Harry Potter). What's been most surprising about Queen's Gambit success, however, has been how well the subject matter has connected with such a wide mainstream audience. Chess drama has never been the biggest seller for TV/movie audiences, and a female-led period piece version of that topic wouldn't have been a lot of industry analysts guess for a global hit.
Perhaps it's the timing, with 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic making board games like chess look a lot more attractive to a lot more people. It also just goes to show what happens when a story is told with the right attention to style and detail - and when talented stars are given room to do what they do best.
The Queen's Gambit is now streaming on Netflix.