‘The Queen’s Gambit’: Here’s the Deal With Those Green Pills

Every so often, Netflix comes out with a new series or film that gets everyone talking. It happened with the reality series, Love Is Blind, the show Tiger King, the film, The Old Guard and so many others. For whatever reason, they throw something on-screen that pulls in millions of viewers from across the globe.

Their latest miniseries, The Queen’s Gambit, falls into that category. However, as fans have begun to unpack the life of orphaned chess prodigy Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy), there is one aspect of the series that continues to come up. This is the deal with those haunting bottles of green pills.

The Queen’s Gambit (L to r) Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon in episode 107 of The Queen’s Gambit
The Queen’s Gambit (L to r) Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon in episode 107 of The Queen’s Gambit | Phil Bray/Netflix © 2020

This is what Netflix’s ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ is about

Based on the 1983 novel The Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis, the Netflix miniseries is a coming of age story. Set in the 1950s and 1960s, the story follows chess prodigy Beth Harmon who develops a love and talent for chess. a very male-dominated gaming world.

Unfortunately, she also develops an addiction to tranquilizers, which were then used as a sedative for children. For Beth, the use of tranquilizers begins after her mother’s death, and she is sent away to an orphanage.

Unfortunately, prescribing children drugs in the mid-20th century in places like orphanages was common practice. Buzzfeed reports that intravenous sedatives were used to keep children calm. Unfortunately, this continues across the globe.

As recently as 2018, a judge confirmed via The Washington Post that migrant children were being injected with drugs at the border without parental consent.

Despite everything that she’s up against with her background and gender, Beth transforms into a woman determined to win and rule in a game that she would have been traditionally been kept out of.

Netflix’s ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ deals with addiction in a serious way

Though we have only recently in the modern era began to grasp the language used to thoughtfully discuss addiction, The Queen’s Gambit also deals with it respectfully — though the show is set in the past.

When Beth first encounters the green pills at the orphanage, they are called vitamins. At first, they don’t seem to affect her negatively. Later, when she is adopted, Beth’s adoptive mother also takes the pills, and Beth begins to steal them from her, little by little.


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This is what those green pills actually are in ‘The Queen’s Gambit’

During Beth’s time in the orphanage, the pills become illegal. In the show, the pills are called Xanzolam, which is not actually a real name for any drug. However, according to Newsweek, they are made to resemble the real-life drug and effects of Librium.

Approved for medical use in 1960, Librium was initially used to cure anxiety, insomnia, and withdrawal symptoms. They were also specifically marketed to housewives and young women.

However, the widespread use of the drug was stopped in the mid-1970s due to overprescription and continued and chronic misuse.