When I heard this miniseries was coming from HBO I wondered how they would walk the tightrope between realism/documentary and thriller. As it turns out, they did it masterfully. HBO sucks you into this horrible event, taking you on twisty and deadly twists and turns along the way. In the wastelands of the post-Game of Thrones era, Chernobyl is nail-biting, tense, and sad.
Chernobyl is the story of the most horrific nuclear disaster in mankind’s history. I’ve read two books on the subject so I wondered how close HBO would stick to the real story. As it turns out, they do adhere to the events…with some added drama. Some of the characters are quite real, where others are composites. Some of the events, like the helicopter crashing because of the radiation…well, I don’t remember that instance. It is okay, HBO doesn’t wander far from the grim truth here. I can suspend reality for an hour dose at a time.
What I like the most is that the series mirrors the real world events. For months the Soviet Union did not know what had caused the explosion of the reactor. I am four episodes in and they are only beginning to piece it all together.
You get a feel for the Soviet Union I remember from my younger years. This was a place where even the KGB head is followed by the KGB – where the phrase, “bullet to your head,” is tossed around like a casual threat. It is easy and comforting to forget how oppressive the Soviet Union was – and how their air of secrecy actually contributes to the disaster.
The series has music that makes you edgy. The effects of radiation on the victims makes you cringe. It is strange that all of the cast have accents other than Russian, but oddly, it makes it passable.
Episode Four is hard to watch because it involves shooting pets. It really was gut-wrenching.
Like Game of Thrones, you shouldn’t expect a good ending to this series either. The fact that it really happened should resonate even more with people. If you are not watching Chernobyl, get started now! You will come away with sleepless nights and an appreciation of disasters caused by man’s folly and arrogance.