While half of the world in disputing the character arcs of an insane Dragon Queen, a would-be king and the destruction of a fictional town, a quiet story about the destruction of a very real town is also unfolding. But unlike the fire and blood that destroyed King’s Landing, this town was destroyed by hubris.
And it is true story.
HBO’s Chernobyl is the new miniseries that is slowly making waves among critics and audiences. Understated, brilliantly shot and cast to perfection, the five-part miniseries is more than just a disaster movie or a historical drama. It is a story steeped in truth that is both terrifying and compelling, not because of the music, or how it is lit or the cinematography, but because it is true.
This is the story about how mankind was almost unmade. And for that reason, it is the scariest horror show on television right now.
Depicting the 1984 disaster that caused a nuclear reactor to explode, the miniseries details the events of the explosion and true nature of the calamity.
As the events unravel, the true monstrosity of the situation grows worse and worse. The lack of information given to the poor people of Pripyat, who allowed their children to play in the nuclear fallout. The hubris of middle management who sent worker after worker to their death in an attempt to inspect a nuclear core that was no longer present. The antagonizing deaths people had to endure because of other resisted the facts of the situation…
It goes on and on.
By the end of the first 24 hours, hundreds of firemen, plant workers and people too close to the “fire” were dead. Whether they died instantly like those who stayed in the plant to save others, or died within the a few days due to being downwind to the disaster, the results were the same: horrible, painful death caused by radiation sickness.
Directed by Johan Renck and starring Jared Harris, Stellan Skarsgård and Emily Watson, the dramatization of the cataclysmic crisis is a revelation. Depicted with no music to artificially raise tensions and no clear heroes or villains, the series relies on the truth to convey its message.
In Chernobyl, the truth is a weapon. The use of the facts in the series is more effective than a masked maniac wielding a machete. It cuts to the core of the issue and how close everyone on this planet came to danger. The portrayal of those in charge holding back information like cards to their chest plays off as an audacity created from a need to protect a job, a position or a minority of those in power.
The fact that a small group of people and their decisions can affect and possibly murder thousands is a big takeaway from the series. It is a message that resounds today as battles over information wage one, offering bad advice and rumors as medical science. The result of the war of words is clear: bad information can only go bad, but the truth will set you free.
Is is because of this message and they way it is transferred on Chernobyl that makes the series terrifying. As the downfall of a country in recent history is accurately portrayed, one can only apply those events to recent cases today and hope they do not end in the same calamity.
For this reason, Chernobyl is perhaps the scariest show on television right now. And necessary viewing for all. For the mistakes of the past must be cautionary tales for the future, or else they will be repeated.