The Queen’s Gambit, a period chess drama fronted by Anya Taylor-Joy, has become Netflix’s most watched scripted limited series after 62 million member accounts tuned in to the show in the first 28 days, according to the streamer.
Set in the 1950s, the show follows Beth Harmon, a young orphan who reveals an astonishing talent for chess and begins an unlikely journey to stardom while grappling with addiction.
The series, based on Walter Tevis’ novel, premiered on October 23.
According to Variety, Netflix claimed that the seven-episode show ranked in its top 10 in 92 countries and No 1 in 63 countries, including the UK, Argentina, Israel and South Africa.
The way Netflix reports viewing is based on the number of viewers who have watched at least two minutes of a piece of content, which is very different from how the TV industry measures audience. And the streamer tends to cherry-pick which originals it decides to tout with the proprietary metric.
The Queen’s Gambit has been written and directed by Scott Frank. He has co-created the series with Allan Scott of Don’t Look Now fame.
Peter Friedlander, Netflix’s VP Original Series said the record is a “true testament” to Frank’s skill as a writer and filmmaker that he was able to bring the drama and detail of the many chess matches to life on camera”.
“Scott also had tremendous help from the series’ talented crafts team. Costume designer Gabriele Binder’s exquisite use of checkerboard patterns in Beth’s wardrobe, composer Carlos Rafael Rivera’s suspenseful score, editor Michelle Tesoro’s gripping montages, production designer Uli Hanisch’s vibrant choices that pop off the screen in every scene, and cinematographer Steven Meizler, whose work transformed every match into heart-pounding drama,” Friedlander said.
The miniseries has garnered generally favourable reviews for its detailing of the ’50s, feminist gaze and Taylor-Joy’s dynamic performance as the adult Beth, along with Marielle Heller’s heartbreaking portrayal of Alma Wheatley, Beth’s troubled and alcoholic adoptive mother who later goes on to become her manager.
The show also stars Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Moses Ingram, Harry Melling and Bill Camp.