Move Over King’s Landing—Chernobyl Has Blown Up

Published on May 31, 2019

HBO put one thing on it’s list of New Years Resolutions for 2019 and that was to secure that coveted #1 spot atop the IMDb “Highest Rated” list and stay there. After the finale for “Game of Thrones” fell short of expectation, HBO was ready to stay in the headlines with the release of “Chernobyl” just days later. The five-episode mini series that documents the story of the Chernobyl disaster that happened in the town of Pripyat, along the border of modern day Ukraine and Belarus, in the 1986 Soviet Union. Despite being a one-season, five episode miniseries, Chernobyl has managed to garner tens of thousands of perfect reviews on IMDb in a matter of weeks.

Could The Reviews Just Be Trying To Knock Game Of Thrones Down?

When things stared heading south for Game of Thrones in its last few episodes, fans began doing everything in their power to draw attention to their disappointment in David Benioff and D.B. Weiss’ writing. Petitions began circulating online to remake the final season, while social media fluttered with anticipation that the finale would somehow redeem the eighth season for its misgivings. Nevertheless, redemption for the show never came, and fans were angered that a show they had invested years of their time into didn’t end up being as satisfying as it was built up to be.

Since super fans of shows like Game of Thrones can be … passionate … people began speculating that Chernobyl’s fast rise atop the IMDb highest rated list was simply a strategy implemented by angered Game of Thrones fans as a means of bringing the show down on the list. However, the over 84,000 positive reviews on the  Chernobyl page seem quite genuine. The show has an average 9.7 rating, with 79% of those ratings at ten stars. Only 1.7% of the reviews are one star, with even less of those sitting between two and six stars. One thing is for sure: people seem to either love or hate watching actors get radiated to death on TV.

With only a few episodes left and a story that can easily be looked up on Wikipedia, it would be hard to imagine an ending to Chernobyl that doesn’t finish it off as one of the most successful shows in history. Perhaps what makes it so good is that HBO didn’t try and draw it out over multiple seasons, telling the story of the Chernobyl disaster in just a few, hour long episodes.

The Series

HBO’s Chernobyl tells the story of the Chernobyl disaster that happened in 1986. In a town called Pripyat in the Soviet Union, a nuclear power plant reactor suddenly burst on April 26, 1986. Since nothing like this had ever happened before, officials struggled to find a way to contain the disaster as it blew massive amounts of nuclear radiation into the air around the plant. The particles blew all over the nearby country, spreading as far as into other European countries before being contained. The show follows the disaster as it happened, beginning at the moment the disaster began.

The show is, more or less, historically accurate. Save for a few details here and there, the stories follow real events that took place in the wake of the disaster. The government response, the lives of the people in Pripyat, and a story following the firemen that were the first responders to the explosion when it happened. What makes the show so jarring is that it’s more or less the first time many of us are faced with learning about the reality of the disaster. Images of bodies that have been brutally disfigured by radiation poisoning are brutal and disturbing, but hauntingly realistic.

Chernobyl will see its final episode air on June 7 on HBO. Until then, give the show it’s well-deserved ten-star rating here.

Julia Sachs is a former Managing Editor at Grit Daily. She covers technology, social media and disinformation. She is based in Utah and before the pandemic she liked to travel.

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