It’s the HBO series that everyone should be talking about – no, not Game Of Thrones (though that is something everyone is talking about), but Chernobyl. With the final episode landing today (Jun 4), now’s the time to get started on what might just be the show of the year.
And let’s not forget the show has a rather cool (if odd) accolade – it’s the highest-rated TV series on IMDB, beating out HBO’s own Band Of Brothers and Game Of Thrones, as well as the BBC’s Planet Earth I and II. Chernobyl’s current 9.6 score even edges out Breaking Bad, which scored 9.4.
Now, I’m not usually a huge fan of putting weight in such scoring, since the numbers can often be arbitrary, especially in a world where idiots can review-bomb movies. But let’s not forget Chernobyl hit that 9.6 score two weeks ago and has held steady since – and any disagreement with that score should have shown up by now.
And the thing is Chernobyl was by no means as massively advertised as Game Of Thrones, and aired after The Last Of The Starks – basically when all people spoke about was Game Of Thrones. But Chernobyl is now the little show that could – and deservedly so.
Chernobyl is about … Chernobyl
If the title didn’t give it away, Chernobyl is about the infamous 1986 nuclear accident, and tells the story of the brave men and women who made incredible sacrifices to save Europe from unimaginable disaster, while battling a culture of disinformation.
Starring Jared Harris (The Crown, Mad Men), Stellan Skarsgård (Good Will Hunting) and Emily Watson (Hilary and Jackie), the show was written, created and executive produced by Craig Mazin (The Huntsman: Winter’s War) and directed by Johan Renck (Breaking Bad).
Harris stars as Valery Legasov, a leading Soviet nuclear physicist who, as part of the response team, is one of the first to grasp the scope of the disaster. Watson plays another physicist, Ulana Khomyuk, who attempts to solve what happened at the nuclear plant.
Skarsgård stars (gard) as Soviet Deputy Prime Minister Boris Shcherbina, who is assigned by the Kremlin to lead the government commission on Chernobyl in the hours immediately following the accident.
Behind The Scenes
Creator Craig Mazin started researching the Chernobyl disaster in 2014, using a wide variety of materials, including several books and government reports from inside and outside of the Soviet Union. He spoke to nuclear scientists to learn how a reactor works, and interviewed former Soviet citizens to gain a better sense of the culture in 1986.
Mazin also read a great number of first-person accounts, which helped bring an additional layer of authenticity and humanity to the story. He said, “When you’re reading the personal stories of people who were there – people who lived near the plant, people who worked at the plant, people who were sent to Chernobyl as part of the effort to clean it up – in those individual accounts, that’s really where the story came alive.”
There’s just one episode left of Chernobyle – but don’t worry if you’ve not caught on: An encore marathon of all five episodes will air on HBO Signature on Jun 15 at 10am, while past episodes are also available on HBO GO.
Chernobyl airs 9am on HBO GO and HBO, with a same day encore at 10pm.