In a surprising turn of events, the horniest show on television this fall is one that is decidedly about chess. I'm sure we all know about The Queen's Gambit, the Netflix hit starring Anya Taylor-Joy as an impeccably dressed (and cat-eyed) orphan chess prodigy in Cold War-era Americana, rising through the ranks with the help of a brilliant mind and an addiction to actual chill pills. It is no doubt a feminist tale, but there's no denying the degree of sexual tension that occurs between our chic gamine of a heroine and the men she devours, quite literally, across the board. (Then again it is 2020 and I haven't interacted with a man in months, so I might be projecting - but still.)
One of those men is Benny Watts, a character who first appears on screen dressed like a swashbuckling chess pirate, regaling a group of tongue-wagging groupies with hypothetical game strategy. Despite his strange, wispy moustache, lanky form, and somewhat of a small face, both I and Beth Harmon (Taylor-Joy) became instantly intrigued. There's just something about his swagger. He is, at this point, the U.S. chess champion, so his confidence is warranted.
Throughout his character's arc of becoming Beth's rival to friend to (spoiler alert!) lover, I was rooting for him - and also really looking forward to his moments on-screen. It was weird. I could listen to this man talk about chess all night. When he and Beth finally do the deed, I nearly lost it - there was so much built-up competitiveness-slash-care-slash-admiration between them. It was all so hot for a girl in quarantine who is too lazy to start a conversation on Hinge.
Now, the whole time I bit my nails over this Benny Watts character, I also found the actor somewhat familiar. His face... was strange. A little too youthful, and oddly recognizable. But since my whole thing is refusing to read practically anything about a show or movie until I've watched it to completion (to avoid the exact kind of spoilers I'm spilling here!), it wasn't until I finished the credits of the last episode to Google anything about him.
Reader, what I learned disturbed me.
If you watched the show and apparently have more of a grasp on the passing of time than I, you may have realized much sooner what I found out with horror: the sexy chess pirate I'd been having totally inappropriate thoughts about is/was the little kid in Love Actually!!! Yes, the one who runs through the airport at the end with the help of Liam Neeson. The little freaking kid in the movie I watch literally three times every December. How did I not see it?!
As it turns out, the actor, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, is in fact a whole year older than I am IRL, so it's not quite as bad as I feel it is. Nevertheless, this year's viewing of Love Actually is going to be very uncomfortable for me. Maybe I'll just skip over his parts and watch The Queen's Gambit again, remembering a time when I was blissfully unaware of who my new crush was.
Side note: can someone please teach me how to play chess?
[Photos via Netflix/Love Actually]