The Queen’s Gambit - When the Genius is Female

We’re all familiar with the loner genius trope—but it’s remarkably difficult to think of popular examples who aren’t men. So The Queen’s Gambit stands out for applying the characteristics of this traditionally male archetype to a female protagonist: chess prodigy Beth Harmon. In loner genius narratives like those of Sherlock Holmes or Dr. House, these brilliant individuals tend to be defined mostly by the reactions of the characters that surround them. But can we really buy that the most prominent members of a male-dominated field during the 1960s would come together to selflessly support the woman who publicly bested them? By transplanting traits of a historically male archetype onto a woman, The Queen’s Gambit reveals the limitations of the loner genius trope—not by subverting them, but by playing into them. Here’s our Take on The Queen’s Gambit and what happens when the loner genius trope takes on a female form.