Will Classic Games Like Bingo Follow In The Footsteps Of Chess After The Success Of Netflix’s THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT?
The Netflix limited series, The Queen’s Gambit, has been an unprecedented success and joins a select list of surprise sensations from the streaming service. As the name suggests, the seven-episode offering centres on the classic game of chess and tracks the rise of a young prodigy as she makes her way to the top. Because of the incredible response that the show has received, it may be time to bring other traditional and well-loved games to the screen. The question is, could more niche offerings like bingo enjoy the same success?
Caption: The trailer for The Queen’s Gambit.
Chess is the Core of the Show but Chess Knowledge is not Essential
The Queen’s Gambit is a fictional tale that follows the life of Beth Harmon, an orphan at the age of nine. At the orphanage, she develops a passion for chess and quickly realises that she has incredible abilities in the game. It isn’t long before the youngster is able to thrash her original mentor, along with his friends from the local chess club. The series gradually tracks her rise to the top, as she learns from her mistakes and improves.
After becoming the top-ranked player in the US, Harmon then goes on to challenge the Soviets who are renowned for their exceptional chess ability. It all comes down to a final showdown between Harmon and Vasily Borgov, a character who was most likely based on a mixture of Boris Spassky and Anatoly Karpov. These were two of the greatest players in the world during that time period.
The show is called the Queen’s Gambit because, in her final match, Harmon opts to play this opening. It is powerful because throughout her entire chess career up to this point, she had never used it. So if her opponent had been studying her games, he would have been taken by surprise. However, the viewer doesn’t need to know the technicalities of this opening or, indeed, any of the other moves played in the series. This is because the actions on the board are usually explained by other characters such as commentators at the games.
Caption: Harmon’s final game against Borgov.
Chess may be at the core of The Queen’s Gambit, but the series doesn’t actually show many of the moves or positions. A chess expert may prefer to see the exact structure of the pieces in order to try to think of the moves themselves, but the way this series was filmed made it more accessible to the layperson. The excitement comes from the intense music, facial expressions, and reactions of the people watching the games. There are also some secondary plots going on including Harmon’s various love interests and her struggle with drug addiction.
Why Would Bingo be Another Great Option?
The Queen’s Gambit broke Netflix records with 65 million views, less than two months after its release date in October 2020. Because of this, there is no doubt that the streaming platform will now be looking into other options that could appeal to the massive number of people who enjoyed this offering. Studios could choose to look towards other classic games with a rich history, with popular yet niche games like bingo - formerly only present in short segments of TV shows and films - actually representing a real option for the first time in many years.
Bingo may not be as revered as chess in terms of the technical ability involved, but it is a worldwide pastime that is extremely popular. The game is arguably more closely related to western culture than chess is, and it could be an even more accessible theme than that of The Queen’s Gambit. Indeed, the bingo hall was once a national institution with a similar level of importance to the public house. Although physical bingo locations have declined in recent years, the game still exists online and appeals to a lot of people in its new form.
While chess may be lauded for the enhanced brain capacity required to play the game, bingo is known for the social aspect. For this reason, TV writers could choose to focus on the relationships and camaraderie involved between players, rather than detail the complexities of the game itself.
A series could also delve into a historical period of the game in the same way The Queen’s Gambit was set during the 1950s and 1960s. UK bingo also has a rich history and can be traced back to the 1500s. Early variants of the ball draw reached the UK in the 18th century, but it really shot to popularity after World War 2. This could be a good time period for a series to centre on, while bingo halls were rapidly cropping up across the country.
How Could a Bingo Series Work?
A bingo television series could easily work if it was done in the same vein as The Queen’s Gambit. Many modern bingo players are used to playing the game online, but may be intrigued about how it became one of the most-played games in the country. For this reason, an offering set during the golden age of bingo in the 1980s could be a winning formula.
In terms of cast, it would probably be wise to go with a lesser-known actor in the lead role again. Anya Taylor-Joy had appeared in a few films and series prior to playing Harmon. However, the fact that she wasn’t a household name enabled her to become the character and made her performance more believable. A bingo series could follow the rise of a bingo player within the growing bingo scene of the 1980s. It could focus on the social side of it, and perhaps include a romance that starts in a bingo hall. There could be cameos from well-known celebrities who could play bingo callers.
When thinking of other classic games that could be used as a series, bingo appears to be one of the standout options. Not only does it have a rich history, but its current popularity will influence a lot of people to watch a series based on it.