With the latest situation about the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, Chernobyl has become a hot topic once again. Ever since the power plant in Chernobyl was forcefully captured by Russia on the first day of the invasion, people have been showing concerns about history repeating itself just as it happened on April 26, 1986. While there are many movies, TV shows, and books telling the story of Chernobyl and what happened there, the HBO miniseries released in 2019 stands out amongst them all! While we can’t say that it is 100% accurate, it tells the story moment by moment and dives deep into the reason why and how the disaster came to be.
This is why it is one of the best TV series to air and has received 96% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 9.4/10 on IMDb. The show was written and created by Craig Mazin, and directed by Johan Renck after much exhaustive research. This can be seen in the way the series goes on and the feelings of despair or joy that you experience along with the characters. While there was a lot of research work done for the series, there are many points at which the story has been exaggerated for dramatic purposes. But despite all that, one cannot deny the accurate depiction of history and how the events played out.
This is why we are here now and have decided to write this article to discuss the reasons why everyone ought to watch the HBO Chernobyl miniseries, and what we can learn from it regarding the price of gross negligence and secrets. SPOILER ALERT!
What do We See and Learn in the HBO Miniseries Chernobyl?
Here’s what to take away from the HBO Miniseries Chernobyl:
The price paid for nuclear disasters
A nuclear disaster can and will affect everyone, despite the distance, by the air we breathe, the earth we live in and grow our food on, and the water we drink. When we say everyone, we don’t only mean humans, but also animals and there is no particular duration to when the effects will subside. The effect of radiation can go on for years and decades, carried on from generation to generation in the form of radiation-related diseases and illnesses like cancer.
This is only the minimum time and the maximum time for radiation effects to subside is centuries. Yes, people won’t die horrific deaths like the plant workers and firefighters in Chernobyl, but they can die slower deaths due to it. Overall, it’s a very horrific case and scenario.
According to a study, the total number of cases of thyroid cancer registered in the duration of 1991- 2015 among people under the age of 18 in 1986, amounted to 20,000. These were also only in the whole of Belarus, Ukraine, and the other four most-contaminated oblasts. Aside from physical health, the mental health of people was severely affected by the death and destruction that they faced around them.
Higher levels of anxiety and poor mental health are very common in such people. While the miniseries only explores the immediate effects right after the disaster and only hints about the effects to come after, it is very much an ugly reality that the people of Chernobyl had to face.
The price paid for gross negligence and impatience
In Chernobyl, we have been repeatedly shown how the Soviet Union was secretive and how they would ignore and hide most problems and flaws, just so they can maintain their illusion of being a powerful nation. In this series, the character of Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet leader, says this: “Our power comes from the perception of our power.” There couldn’t have been a better line to describe the Soviet Union and its ideologies. This is exactly why the Soviet was careless about critical things and focused more on keeping everything under wraps rather than solving problems genuinely.
Other than the negligence of the leaders, there was also the impatience of the manager, chief engineer, and deputy chief engineer to complete the safety test of reactor #4. Due to them trying to rush the test, they had stalled the reactor and had created a condition similar to a nuclear bomb. This is why the reactor core exploded and caused such a wide-scale disaster. As emphasized many times in the series, there is no way a reactor core can explode, and this case was the first of its kind, resulting in many questions as to how it should be dealt with.
The price paid for minimizing the damage
While the disaster caused a lot of damage and there was a heavy price paid for it, it was not enough. There were massive efforts made by large teams of people to clean up the areas affected by the nuclear explosion to contain and minimize the damage. As shown in the miniseries, there were three levels of the roof covered in debris from the reactor core and thus, were extremely dangerous.
For two of these levels, Katya and Nina, moon rovers were used to push the debris back into the open core. For the third and possibly the most dangerous level, Masha, they had to resort to using “biorobots” to clear the roof. Of course, there were measures in place to ensure that people do not get exposed to dangerous radiation levels for too long, but that didn’t stop them from receiving a lifetime’s worth of radiation.
Where to watch this series?
The original network for this series is HBO and that’s also the channel where you can watch it on-demand. For all those with a Netflix subscription, you’ll be disappointed to know that you can’t watch it on Netflix, but you can find it on HBO Go, HBO Now, Google Play, Vudu, Hulu, and Amazon.
The easiest way to access it, especially if you have a subscription to cable TV is on HBO as you might find it in some ISP’s channel lineup. One of those ISPs is WOW! The channel lineup for WOW! TV Plans has a variety of channels and you can find HBO among them as well! Check out the WOW! TV plans and see which plan you want to get.
The biggest question now is, what’s next? We get a glimpse into the history of Chernobyl from this series and it is indeed very frightening. It is definitely something that we do not want to see happen ever again. The series has done a marvelous job is showing the reality and frightful outcomes of a simple design flaw and a single hurried decision can make.
How many lives were lost just because power is misused and falls into the wrong hands; all these things, unfortunately, we live through them today as well. Maybe not in the form of a nuclear disaster, but definitely in the form of greed for power.
If there are a few lessons to be learned from this show, it should be regarding the misuse of power by a few people, which leads to the lost lives of thousands and maybe even tens of thousands of people. This lesson not only applies to people in power or higher places, rather to each and every person working as everyone is somehow dependent on the other, whether it is in homes or offices.
Hiding important details, as little as they may be, can cause the biggest failures in the future. After all, that was the main reason why the Soviet Union collapsed in the first place.