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In The Queen's Gambit, did Cleo and Beth have sex? If they did, then does that make Beth bi?

We see in episode 1 and in the "Adjourn" episode that Beth wakes up in a bathtub full of water. When she takes a look around the room we can see Cleo naked in her bed. The two men that Cleo and Beth were talking to the night before were not in the room. When we see Beth's reaction to seeing Cleo in her bed, we see no emotion as if she's not bothered or shocked.

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  • Sure the impression is that they did – Andrea Mori Nov 1 '20 at 13:22
  • It’s a good question, I think it went through everyone’s head. There is just no evidence either way. It’s left to us. It’s unlikely, yes, but when you’re drunk on Pastis, anything is probably possible. – cmp Nov 5 '20 at 22:11
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    I was hoping the book would have a definitive answer here, but there's no Cleo; the woman at the get-together at Benny's apartment in New York is "Jenny Baynes", and does not appear in Paris at all. – Russell Borogove Nov 15 '20 at 1:40
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    "does that make Beth bi?" Sleeping with both men and women doesn't make you bi. Being bi makes you sleep with both men and women. – Acccumulation Nov 16 '20 at 5:10
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Probably not

While indeed we can see that Cleo is sleeping in Beth's bed in the hotel, I don't think that it means that they had sex. They indeed have returned to the hotel together and it seems that they've been drinking afterwards, but when the hotel staff member knocks on the door, we can see that Beth wakes up... in the bathtub, wearing still the same dress as the night before.

On top of that, we know that both Beth and Cleo prefer men - while the former has a bit clinical approach to sex, she never displayed a sexual interest in women and when we met Cleo, she admits living in a polygamous relationship with two guys.

So besides the fact that Cleo has slept in Beth's bed (without Beth sleeping next to her), there are no other proofs that would say that they had sex. Most likely, they got drunk, went to Beth's room, got drunk more and eventually passed out.

Of course, it is possible that after drinking too much, they indeed had sex without Beth fully undressing (she could have put he dress back afterwards too) and afterwards Beth decides to have a bath in her clothes. It just seems less likely.

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  • I also had the same idea as you before since they left out a lot of stuff to keep the audience guessing. So, what I did was that I started reading articles and I came up across this one salon.com/2020/10/31/… – fran8 Nov 2 '20 at 3:50
  • If you read through it, you can see Anya herself talks about the scene with Cleo and Beth. What Anya said is that Beth may or may have not been in love with Cleo but we will never know and we don't have to know because of the fluidity in the show. I think Beth doesn't like putting herself in a box in any kind of situation. Beth is most likely experimenting with the kind of people she likes. We never see a scene but, I don't think it would be shocking if Beth slept with anyone else aside from a man. – fran8 Nov 2 '20 at 3:50
  • @fran8 that is definitely possible, but there is more evidence against that for – Yasskier Nov 2 '20 at 3:59
  • People can do some pretty weird stuff when they're that drunk. Not the least of which is keeping or putting clothes on when taking a bath. I would have personally considered the implication almost a certainty if they hadn't shown her having had an enjoyable sexual experience with a male shortly before that (chronologically), and her prior obvious excitement after he trounced her repeatedly in speed chess, and her confession of an unrequited love for Townes. Lack of satisfaction seemed like it was angling specifically at a sexuality reveal, but then they subverted it in those sequences. – zibadawa timmy Nov 12 '20 at 4:17
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Probably

did Cleo and Beth have sex?

It's open to interpretation, but my interpretation is that yes, Beth had sex with Cleo. At the very least, the viewer is intended to see it as a possibility, if not the only possibility.

In the opening sequence of the first episode, we see only a dark-haired head in the bed, and Beth hesitates and gives a brief glance in that direction in her rush to leave the room to get to the game. While the look is ambiguous, it certainly seems significant; she seems to be feeling some way or another about the person's presence.

In episode 6, the events of the night before are shown with the viewer keenly aware of what happens in the morning. Beth intends to have a quiet night in; the viewer knows the phone call is going to upset that. Cleo's appearance is small surprise; they hit it off at Benny's and Cleo told Beth to look her up in Paris. Cleo was flirtatious with Beth (although not blatantly so) in New York; we know Cleo is sexually unconventional. When Beth declines to join Cleo in the bar, the viewer knows she will; when she says she'll stop at one drink, the viewer knows she won't. The last thing we see is Cleo leading her to flirt with the strangers in the bar.

The next morning, throughout the reprise of the opening of the first episode, the question isn't "did she have sex with someone"; by the conventions of TV and movies, the glance at the sleeping form in the hotel bed the morning after a bender can't mean anything other than that she had sex with someone1. The question is: did she have sex with Cleo or with a random guy from the hotel bar? Showing Cleo in the bed answers that question.

If they did, then does that make Beth bi?

Again, it's open to interpretation. My interpretation is that Beth is bisexual, though she may not embrace that identity and may not go on to sleep with other women. Throughout the series, Beth is shown rejecting social norms of all sorts. I don't see any reason she'd limit her choice of partners to one gender or the other. Beth's declared love for Townes, who is strongly coded as bisexual, also supports the interpretation.


1 On the other hand, the show does subvert some visual media conventions in anticlimactic ways.

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    It is very open to interpretation, but as a evidence FOR we have only the fact that Cleo is sleeping in Beth's bed. Against we have much more - lack of obvious flirting, fact that Beth is still in her dress and that she was sleeping far away from her would-be lover. The "look" for me was rather "what is SHE doing here?" rather "oh no, I've slept with Cleo!" – Yasskier Nov 16 '20 at 1:45
  • The evidence for is that there's no reason for the screenwriter to put Cleo in the room at all, otherwise. – Russell Borogove Nov 16 '20 at 16:19
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    It is - to show that they were partying and drinking through the night together. – Yasskier Nov 16 '20 at 18:44
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She wakes up in a bathtub away from the bed and with the clothes she had the night before, she looks towards the bed because she doesn't even know who it may be, I don't think she has had sex or is bisexual.

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  • The manner in which she looks towards the bed does not suggest (to me) one who is unaware of who is there, or at all surprised that someone is there. There's no movement of the neck and head to get a better look, and no look of curiosity or confusion. And we shortly see, when Chloe rolls over to reveal herself to us, that from Beth's position at the time she could not have seen her face or much else to identify her, or even her gender. It struck me as more of an accusatory "damn it, I'm in this stupid situation because she goaded me into it and I fell for it" thing. – zibadawa timmy Dec 6 '20 at 18:33

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