As Game of Thrones ends with a bit of a whimper, Chernobyl is primed to step us as HBO’s next big thing. Watchmen could be set to fill its position as the huge blockbuster, but they would do well to keep an eye on how Chernobyl has been doing.
The show has hit the ground running, and there’s a whole host of reasons why everyone should be watching. The writing, cinematography and acting are all top notch, while the story only becomes more gripping as it unfolds. Not many would have expected that at this time of year, Chernobyl would be HBO’s jewel in the crown, but that’s exactly where it deserves to be.
Based around the infamous nuclear disaster in the titular city, Chernobyl has more depth than its subject matter might immediately lead you to believe. Plenty of schlocky body horrors begin with nuclear meltdowns, but Chernobyl goes much deeper below the surface.
It focuses on the meltdown only as a way to provide structure to the story, instead exploring how it came to happen, how the aftermath was dealt with and whose lives were forever changed by the fateful events.
7. A Return To Intelligent Television
HBO has often pushed ambitious projects which approach TV from a different angle. While most channels churn out entertainment, HBO’s audiences expect something more.
They expect to be asked questions, to unravel mysteries, to follow intricate dialogue and most importantly, they are treated with respect. Game of Thrones, Last Week Tonight and Westworld all do this, and Chernobyl is right there with them.
The character motivations are murky, their ambition shielded. There is no good guys or bad guys here; there is simply Chernobyl. The nuance comes in the fallout, and whether the worst case scenario is death, loss of career or the USSR’s position on the world stage. The show demands that you keep up and it’s all the better for it.
Absolutely none of the lines are played for laughs, but beyond that the lines are layered and subtle too. The show doesn’t try to baffle you with the nuclear physics to make it seem clever; this is a very human story about arrogance, hubris and secrets.
Though the characters are on the same team, it never seems like it as they battle over priorities; keep the secret or save the civilians.