Netflix Sued for $5 Million Over "Sexist and Belittling" Queen's Gambit Reference

Just days before the 2021 Emmys, Netflix is faced with a $5 million lawsuit for a reference made in their hit series The Queen’s Gambit. See what a chess champion is alleging.

By Mike Vulpo Sep 17, 2021 7:01 PMTags
Watch: Netflix Sued for $5 Million Over Sexist Queen's Gambit Reference

The Queen's Gambit may not have seen this legal move coming.

Soviet chess icon Nona Gaprindashvili has sued Netflix for $5 million claiming defamation and false light invasion of privacy. In court documents obtained E! News, Nona and her attorneys claim that a false statement was made in The Queen Gambit's season one finale.

During the "End Game" episode, a statement is made that compares Nona's real-life accomplishments to that of Anya Taylor-Joy's fictional character Beth Harmon. "The only unusual thing about her, really, is her sex, and even that's not unique in Russia," a commentator quips as Beth plays in a white-knuckle match in Moscow. "There's Nona Gaprindashvili, but she's the female world champion and has never faced men."

In court documents, Nona's attorneys state: "The allegation that Gaprindashvili ‘has never faced men' is manifestly false, as well as being grossly sexist and belittling. By 1968, the year in which this episode is set, she had competed against at least 59 male chess players."

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"These facts were well known to Netflix," her lawyers continued. "Both from the Novel which stated that she had ‘met all these Russian Grandmasters many times before,' and because it had hired two of the world's leading chess authorities as consultants for the Series."

In a statement to E! News on Sept 17, a spokesperson for the streaming service said, "Netflix has only the utmost respect for Ms. Gaprindashvili and her illustrious career, but we believe this claim has no merit and will vigorously defend the case."

Per the court documents, the situation has been ongoing, Nona's attorneys claiming their client previously confronted Netflix after the series was broadcast asking for a public statement to include an apology and retraction.

"Netflix had no need to use Gaprindashvili's name and to disparage her achievements for dramatic purposes," her attorneys wrote.

Based on Walter Tevi's 1983 novel, The Queen's Gambit quickly became a hit with critics and fans alike when it premiered in October 2020.

The lawsuit, however, comes just days before the show could walk away with several 2021 Emmys including Outstanding Limited Or Anthology Series. Just last weekend, the show picked up nine trophies at the Creative Emmys. Now, they're facing an entirely different match.

For a full recap of the 75th Emmy Awards, check out E! Online's Emmys homepage here.