Chess is the sort of game that, from the outset, looks completely impenetrable and impossible to understand unless you are a complete genius or someone who made it through calculus in high school. It’s generally not a game that makes for compelling fictional television, but one of the gifts of 2020 has been finding solace in television shows that, in different times, might be completely unwatchable or otherwise boring. Enter The Queen’s Gambit, yet another offering from Netflix that has somehow managed to capture my attention.
The plot is obviously fictional, but here goes: Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor Joy) is a chess prodigy who can only perform chess when under the influence of tranquilizers. Her aptitude for the game in a field that is mostly dominated by men is notable; also notable for me is that for maybe five minutes, I thought the show was based on a true story. Blessed be, it’s not, but that doesn’t matter: what DOES matter is that once you’re done trying to figure out if Benny is the little boy from Love Actually (he is) and if the chess man who got his teeth fixed is Dudley Dursley (he is!), you can direct your attention to the real star of the show, which is not the chess or the outfits, but the wallpaper. There is a LOT Of wallpaper, and all of it is wild.
It’s not that the show itself is bad—it’s not, it’s perfectly good, very watchable, and fills in the blank spot that The Crown has left in its absence. But for me, the thrill of both The Crown, which will return just in time for winter’s darkness, and The Queen’s Gambit is its moodiness, which I’m sure is meant to represent something about the interior life of Beth. It also looks nice!
Nothing about the show has inspired me to learn chess, because I feel confident that I am not sharp enough to handle it. But now I yearn for an accent wall covered in the deranged wallpaper of my choice, with just enough busyness to keep me on my toes, wondering if I’m slowly losing my grip on reality or if it’s just the print. Come long winter nights, it’ll probably be a deadly combination of both!
The orphanage where Beth spends her early days was nice and all that, but I am living for this arch, the teal curtains, the rugs upon rugs, and the curious choice to wallpaper not only the wall, but the stairs as well. I’m sure this says something about the infinite sadness of Beth’s adoptive mother, but to me, this is Mad Men done better—more deranged, very sad, and dark, just the way I like it, baby.
That coffee table our heroine is resting her grubby little feet on is made of glass and rattan, and I swear to god if I saw it in a furniture store here in beautiful Brooklyn, it would cost $400. I need it. The wallpaper is egregious, but if these walls were painted white, we’d be in an Instagram-friendly Airbnb (remember her?) in whatever city of your choosing.
Okay, this is where it gets good. This wallpaper, which matches both the bedspread and the lampshade, makes me feel like I’m slowly losing my mind.
Ahh, yes, here’s the good stuff. I’m not sure how Netflix captured a picture of what it’s gonna look like inside my apartment in January, but they must have advanced tech in there that lets them see the future! This is what the winter looks like. I guess it’ll be okay.