It’s a fairly new series on Netflix. Based on the 1983 novel of the same name by Walter Tevis. I think I may just take the time to go read it.
The series though is getting a lot of push by Netflix and is steadily climbing the Top Ten in Germany list. Am I being snarky if I say that I don’t overly care by what other people are watching? Well, it’s nice to know, but I’m trying to curate my Netflix algorithm, so…
Still, the series fits my loose set of wants. Historical, unusual topic, character-driven, gorgeous costumes. So, why not, I thought.
The first thing that hit me, is that Anna Taylor-Joy is even more Amélie than Amélie (remember Audrey Tatou in the 2001 hit?), even down to the
By the end of the second episode, I get the feeling that the fashion transformation will be fascinating to watch (Tom and Lorenzo already have an in-depth look at the chess-themed costuming). In this regard, it reminds me a lot of Lewis Carrol‘s Alice Through the Looking Glass, which is also based on a chess game, where Alice moves from pawn to Queen (check out the book, not the movie).
The reason this series resonates with so many people who know nothing about chess, and haven’t played Lewis Carroll‘s chess problem to get a pawn to checkmate in eleven moves, is that the series thoroughly mines the archetype of the Mother complex in a way we can all relate.
Beth is the gifted prodigy searching for family, friendship, love and belonging. Chess is actually incidental.
Almost every female character is a fascinating study that makes me want to dive deeper. Beth‘s mom, the math genius who lives in Beth‘s memory as giver of hard but valuable advice (imagine calling your ex „a rounding error“!), the replacement mom Alma who tries to finds new purpose in becoming a manager-mom.
It’s painful to see Beth getting picked on by the mean girls in school, but the pay-off comes firstly when Beth sitting with the Apple Pi girls, in a chic little black dress, realizes she‘s a swan and will never be a duck. A real Ugly Duckling moment.
And when she finds her tribe, it‘s all the more heartwarming how she puts herself back together with their help and moves on to her happy end.
A great series. Well done Netflix, well done German costume designer Gabriele Binder (and her team) and well done to the entire cast.
If you’re not in the mood to take up embroidery, but want close ups and a bit of background to some of the costumes, visit the Brooklyn Museum’s online Exhibition.