Skip to content

TV Series Review: Chernobyl (HBO Miniseries)

Chernobyl is a HBO miniseries that has blown all expectations out of the water, surpassing HBO’s own Game of Thrones as well as Breaking Bad to be the highest rated show of all time on IMDB. The five-episode drama, aired throughout May and June, focused on the real-life events of the Chernobyl Power Plant which had a major disaster in 1986. Still highly radioactive to this day, this drama follows the directors and leaders of Chernobyl as thousands of people do their part to salvage the area and save millions of lives in the process.

Chernobyl (2019) – source: HBO

You will have heard all of the praises now, but they are so well earned throughout every single episode. This is a show that will have you hooked from the very first scene right until the final moments of the fifth episode. It did not overstay its welcome or go on longer than it needed it, it spent the right amount of time focusing on the tragedy. This is a hard-hitting series to watch, so the fact that it is a short series will make it easier for anybody to jump on and finish quickly.

Director Johan Renck and writer Craig Mazin, who did not have a huge following or high success rate in their previous works, give the best of their abilities here as they capture this heart breaking story and cover every single aspect of it. From the trauma of the actual events to the impact it had on the individual people. From the thousands of soldiers who came in to try and clean the area of Chernobyl and Pripyat up, to the politics and authority of the few who were trying to keep the situation under control. Every part of the story was as vital as each other, and every episode was impactful in its own way.
The actors here are surely going to be up for nominations come award season, because it is their portrayals that sell this story more than anything else. You can see the fear in everybody’s eyes, as well as the determination to get justice for those who suffered due to the severe radiation. One of the standouts for me was Jessie Buckley, who is having one fantastic year between this and her work in Wild Rose. Buckley plays Lyudmilla Ignatenko, the wife of a firefighter who was first to respond to the Chernobyl disaster. Her character goes through severe trauma and she gives the most heart breaking performance of the entire show.

Chernobyl (2019) – source: HBO
The way this show has been shot is hauntingly beautiful, and needs to be embraced on a large screen. It may be dark and gloomy, but the shots are well framed and focused on such small details. There is aa focus on long takes, particularly in one moment on the roof of the power plant. It places you straight in that moment, as you look at how devastating the event really was right in front of your eyes. Between those long shots, the sounds of the geiger meter and the talks you hear to before those moments, you really start to care for every person that helped at that time.
This show does not hide away from disturbing imagery and is bold to show it front and centre. Between sights of children running and playing in the midst of the radiation particles, to gruesome shots of the soldiers having to shoot people’s pets that have turned radioactive, this show highlights truly how bad it was. They do not cover anything up or try to make it cheerful, this is a heavy going drama and it forces you to care about the people in the situation and question if you would do the same at that exact moment.
Every episode is fantastic, but it is the final episode that leaves you on the edge of the seat. It is the least action-based and the furthest from the disaster of Chernobyl, but it is the focus of the legal side and learning about the truth of what went on that night that had me the most intrigued. With shows that start strong, I was hesitant that this one could end as well as it started. Somehow, this show just kept getting better by the episode and ended on the strongest note possible.
Chernobyl (2019) – source: HBO

Chernobyl has been my favourite TV series of the year to date. Every episode had me hooked onto every line of dialogue and every story told. Whilst it was short and sweet, it got so much information in and did not drag on for one second. Whatever Mazin and Renck wants to do next, just let them do it already. I will watch whatever they plan to do next, and what stories they want to tell going forward.
Have you seen Chernobyl yet? If so, did you love it as much as I have? Let me know in the comments below and let’s have a discussion.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: