Soviet chess legend Nona Gaprindashvili has sued Netflix for “The Queen’s Gambit” series, alleging defamation, saying a line in the hit show’s finale was “grossly sexist and degrading.”
“The only thing unusual about her is really her gender, and even that is not unique in Russia,” says an advertiser for a chess tournament in the last episode of the show, while the camera pans for a woman watching the match. “There’s Nona Gaprindashvili, but she’s the female world champion and has never met men.”
The real Gaprindashvili, an 80-year-old woman from the former Soviet Republic of Georgia, was the first woman to be appointed Grand Master, and she competed against dozens of men throughout her career.
In fact, in 1968, the year the fictional episode was staged, Gaprindashvili had “competed against at least 59 male chess players (28 of them simultaneously in a game), including at least ten grandmasters at the time,” according to a lawsuit Thursday in Los Angeles federal court.
Gaprindashvili’s suit says the line was a “devastating lie that undermined and degraded her performance to an audience of many millions.”
“Netflix lied fruitfully and deliberately about Gaprindashvili’s performance with the cheap and cynical purpose of ‘amplifying the drama’ by making it look as if its fictional hero had managed to do what no other woman, including Gaprindashvili, had done,” it sounds further.
“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 trail blazer who had actually faced and defeated men on the world stage in the same era. . ”
The case seeks at least $ 5 million in damages for defamation and “false light invasion of privacy,” as well as an additional $ 75,000 for lost business opportunities.
Gaprindashvili, who served several times in the Georgian parliament during the Soviet years, also claimed that she “confronted” Netflix after the series aired and “demanded a public statement acknowledging the falsity of the statement, an apology and a withdrawal.”
Netflix responded with “extraordinary hubris”, says Gaprindashvili in his suit, “rejects [her] allegation of defamation by claiming that the false statement was ‘harmless’. ”
“This arrogant refusal to take responsibility for his actions was shockingly tone-deaf in view of sexism and the violation of its lies,” the case continues.
“The Queen’s Gambit” won two Golden Globes earlier this year and has garnered 18 Emmy nominations. It was so successful that there are now plans to make it a musical.
The show is based on Walter Tevi’s 1983 novel, but the book said, according to the suit, only about Gaprindashvili, that she “has met all these Russian grandmasters many times before.”
“Netflix has only the utmost respect for Ms. Gaprindashvili and her famous career, but we believe this claim has no merit and will defend the case vigorously,” Netflix said in a statement to the Daily Beast.