But if the series doesn’t offer feminist, you-go-girl triumphalism or grievance, neither does it overemphasize personal bootstraps. Again and again, the men in Beth’s life come to her rescue, unraveling the extreme self-reliance her mother taught her that left her alone in the world. Without her friends’ support, Beth could never pull herself up to compete on the world stage in Moscow.
The show is not perfect. Characters swear profusely, and some episodes take unnecessary swipes at international Christian organizations. Beth also engages in several emotionless sexual encounters, including, one scene hints, with another woman. There’s no nudity, and all but one are implied, not shown—and that one is noteworthy for how degrading and unfulfilling it is. Once Beth stops the drugs and alcohol, she also stops sleeping around, illustrating the truthfulness of Ephesians 5:18: “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery.”
In the end, the show is at least honest enough to show that, sure, sin is fun and can even seem to give you an edge for a while, but ultimately it takes much more than it offers.
If your conscience allows you to tolerate these elements, The Queen’s Gambit is the rare show that is as smart as advertised, and even more engaging.