January 11, 2021

What I've Watched | Queen's Gambit, Selena, Virgin River + Bridgerton

The Queen's Gambit

At this point, you'd have to be living under a rock to not have heard of this show. When I sat down to finally watch The Queen's Gambit myself, I immediately understood all the hype and buzz by the end of the first episode. It follows Beth Harmon who is orphaned at a young age and sent to live at an orphanage. While there, she becomes addicted to two things: chess and drugs. In only 7 extremely well-done episodes, we see Beth's coming-of-age story as she strives to become the best chess player in the world while dealing with her past, drug use, the meaning of family, and just growing up. I absolutely loved the story and how it was told. Not to mention, Anya Taylor-Joy was perfect as Beth. Every emotion played across her face as she faced obstacle after obstacle in spite of her brilliance as a chess player. It was interesting to see how seriously chess was taken in various parts of the world and how much of a "men's game" it was. So to see Beth, a much younger woman by comparison, take it by storm was exhilarating to watch. And as someone who loves clothes and fashion, I was not expecting that to play a huge role here but whoever the costume designer was, can you please tell me where to find these clothes? By the end of the series I wanted to raid Beth's closet, learn how to play chess (again), and read the book (still debating this).  



Selena: The Series

I've already hinted that I wasn't thrilled with how Selena: The Series played out and this Refinery29 article states exactly why but I still wanted to share my thoughts on it. My introduction to Selena Quintanilla was through the 1997 movie featuring Jennifer Lopez. I fell in love with the music and ended up looking up her albums in addition to the soundtrack. But most of her all, her journey of pursuing her dreams and her tragic death left an impression on me when I watched. When I heard about the Netflix series and saw who was cast, I already had my doubts but I knew I'd check it out anyway. So I watched the entire first part (I believe Part 2 comes out this year) but after the first few episodes, I was already unhappy with it. The show focuses so much on Selena's father Abraham and her brother A.B. -- their feelings and struggles and passion for music. Even her sister Susanna gets meatier moments that show her growth as a musician in their family. While Selena? She just feels like a background character who's there to look pretty and sing, but often shows no passion, ambition, or opinion on anything. Instead she lets her family steer the wheel for her and that to me rings false. If the show is named after Selena, then it should actually star her. And no offense to Christian Serratos but she doesn't look or move like Selena at all. Her dancing is awkward at best and you can tell she's an actress pretending to be a singer and not a true performer. I understand the significance of having a Mexican actress play this role but if you look at this YouTube video that shows a side-by-side comparison of J.Lo and Selena, you can tell Lopez really did her homework so she would move exactly like Selena. It's actually incredible. I'm going to keep watching mostly out of curiosity but this series so far was a huge disappointment. 



Virgin River

My cousin's wife kept telling me to check out this show and once I finally did over my Christmas break, I binged both seasons in a matter of days. It follows Mel Monroe as she moves to a remote town named Virgin River to work as a midwife and nurse practitioner in an attempt to start fresh. She learns that not only is small-town living not as simple as she expected, but neither is leaving behind a painful past. The show is centered around revealing what that past is, how she tries to fit into town (sometimes succeeding, other times failing), and of course, romance. There were surprisingly other aspects to the show beyond small-town drama and romance that I wasn't expecting. But I was definitely most drawn to Mel's personal story (past and present), her romance with Jack (all the freaking swoons), the people she befriends (Hope cracks me up), and her work as a midwife. I know it's fiction but it's still so impressive to see her work as a nurse practitioner. I will say that I enjoyed season 1 more because season 2 started to go a bit off the rails with its side drama, IMHO. But everything that went down evoked a lot of feelings from me and I can't wait for season 3 to see what happens next. 



Bridgerton

I should've known that Shonda Rhimes and historical fiction would make for an explosive combination but even I was still unprepared for how steamy it got (obviously, I was 100% for it!). I thought she did an incredible job of adapting The Duke and I, although she was clearly pulling bits and pieces from later books (I've only read the first two). The changes made sense and she fleshed out characters that didn't get much screen time in what I've read so far. It was great to see more of the older Bridgerton siblings and the secondary characters, even if they differed a bit from their bookish counterparts. The show centers around debutante life and marriage season in Regency London and focuses particularly on Daphne Bridgerton and Simon Bassett, a duke. They decide to enter into a fake courtship in order for her to get more suitors and for him to get harassed less by mothers. But you know fake relationships always end up bringing up real feelings and this did not disappoint. The casting, particularly for Simon (RegĂ©-Jean Page, you are my absolute favorite on this show), was spot-on. The aesthetics, cinematography, costumes, and music were just beautiful. It was an entertaining show that I could not get enough of. It's basically historical romance meets Gossip Girl, which is definitely my jam. This show better get renewed for a season 2! 


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What have you watched recently?

Note: All shows are available on Netflix


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