HBO's Chernobyl miniseries is by far one of the best shows the network has produced in years. After Game of Thrones ended, quite a few people were looking to cancel their HBO subscriptions, but in doing so, they lost out on the opportunity to be captivated by the haunting and unforgettable series that is Chernobyl. Created by Craig Mazin, HBO's Chernobyl series takes place before, during, and after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986, and it's shockingly accurate to detail.
With most productions - and, in fact, most productions that are based on true stories - the narrative tends to be overly dramatized. This is done either to keep audiences engaged, to avoid turning audiences away, or simply for shock factor. But what Chernobyl does differently is that it stays close to the true story, only deviating in special circumstances to push the story forward or as to not detract from what the purpose was of this miniseries. For instance, Emily Watson's character is arrested by the KGB for trying to uncover the truth of Chernobyl, but while her character was created for the show, she represents all the scientists who had worked with Valery Legasov (Jared Harris) on mitigating the crisis.
Often times, true story movies and TV shows take subjects that people are already quite familiar with and then try to put new spins on them. With Chernobyl, the opposite is true, for the most part. Everyone knows what Chernobyl is, but not many people know the extent of the crisis, nor do they know everything that happened to prevent it from getting worse. That's what each episode of HBO's Chernobyl does; it takes viewers through the impossible decisions and shows the result of those decisions.
To see behind the iron curtain in such an honest way is rare, especially for a project of this scale. Politics are involved, sure, but it's not East vs. West as most Hollywood productions are, but rather the series focuses on the steps that the people involved with Chernobyl had to take to get even one thing done. They all knew their place in Soviet food chain, and quite a few of them stepped out of bounds to essentially... save the world. Legasov was one of them, but he definitely wasn't the only one.
Thanks to its accuracy and dedication to not holding back, Chernobyl can play off as a documentary while also providing an enthralling experience for viewers. Plus, with the scale of its production, Chernobyl is by far one of the scariest things people will see all year. And the sad thing is, it's all real. A scene in episode 4 - featuring the brave Chernobyl biorobots - plays out in real-time, allowing viewers to truly understand the fear and dread that the person being portrayed on-screen had felt in that moment when they were on the roof of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.
Furthermore, in all of its five episodes, Chernobyl never falters. Even though the story jumps from one thing to the next, and even jumps a few days to a few months later, it maintains the same level of quality as well as intelligent analysis throughout. Rather than a presentation of events, it's an investigation and containment all in one. It's almost a pre-apocalypse. Overall, HBO's Chernobyl is clearly a passion project of Mazin's, one that does justice to its subject material. Hopefully, this isn't the last one we get.