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‘Queen’s Gambit’ Defamation Suit Against Netflix Over ‘Sexist’ Series Is Settled

A judge previously denied Netflix's attempt to dismiss the case, noting the streamer acted in "reckless disregard" for historical accuracy.

THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT (L to R) ANYA TAYLOR-JOY as BETH HARMON in episode 104 of THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT Cr. PHIL BRAY/NETFLIX © 2020

“The Queen’s Gambit”

Phil Bray / Netflix

Netflix has officially settled a defamation lawsuit filed by Georgian chess champion Nona Gaprindashvili over the allegedly “sexist” portrayal in “The Queen’s Gambit.”

The viral series starred Anya Taylor-Joy as an orphan chess prodigy. The Emmy-winning show was based on a 1983 novel of the same name and ends with Taylor-Joy’s character Beth Harmon besting male Russian players in the 1960s. Gaprindashvili claimed that the series was defamatory to her own career, citing that the “only unusual thing” about lead character Beth is her gender.

“And even that’s not unique in Russia. There’s Nona Gaprindashvili, but she’s the female world champion and has never faced men,” the suit read, via The Hollywood Reporter. The lawsuit continued that the idea Gaprindashvili “never faced men” in competition is “manifestly false, as well as being grossly sexist and belittling.”

By 1968, when the episode in question is set, she had competed against 59 male chess players, with at least 10 being grandmasters.

“Netflix brazenly and deliberately lied about Gaprindashvili’s achievements for the cheap and cynical purpose of ‘heightening the drama’ by making it appear that its fictional hero had managed to do what no other woman, including Gaprindashvili, had done,” the complaint stated. “Thus, in a story that was supposed to inspire women by showing a young woman competing with men at the highest levels of world chess, Netflix humiliated the one real woman trailblazer who had actually faced and defeated men on the world stage in the same era.”

The deal between Netflix and Gaprindashvili is for an undisclosed settlement. A judge previously refused to dismiss the case in January 2022 after Netflix argued viewers knew “fictional works have no obligation to the truth” as with “The Queen’s Gambit.”

U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips denied the dismissal filed by Netflix, claiming the streamer acted with “reckless disregard” for historical accuracy. “The Queen’s Gambit” also referenced Gaprindashvili by name and included real people and events.

Attorney Alexander Rufus-Isaacs, who represents Gaprindashvili, said, “I am pleased that the matter has been resolved.”

Netflix has faced numerous lawsuits of late, settling a suit filed by comedian and Oscar-winning actress Mo’Nique alleging racial and gender discrimination amid a wage dispute. The streamer was also recently sued for defamation by Rachel Williams, who is portrayed in the true crime series “Inventing Anna.” Additionally, Netflix was sued by shareholders in May 2022 for “misleading” investors and failing to disclose the massive loss of subscribers from Q4.

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