john hex carter

Chernobyl and You Better Be Watching It

I love HBO's Chernobyl. It is a love that is a selfish love, though, for it certainly doesn't love me back. The love of so many is shown through the show, however. I can see the love from Craig Mazin, writer and creator: a man who trumpets specificity in his writing has worked with a large and accomplished team to bring the most accurate portrayal of the horror that went on in the Soviet Union when the most disastrous nuclear accident in history took place over 30 years ago.

When someone talks about horror in television they might think of a zombie show like The Walking Dead or Z Nation, or they might think of something with a little more camp in it, like Ash vs. Evil Dead, something with a touch of more prestige like AMC's The Terror, or even something that sneaks in the horror like DC's Doom Patrol. They wouldn't immediately think that HBO's latest miniseries Chernobyl is a horror, and in some ways they're right and in some ways they're wrong.

Horror is usually the realm of speculative fiction, emphasis on fiction. Sure there's docudramas out there like Netflix's Mindhunter that emphasizes on the true crime and more than enough movies on white psychopaths, so bringing horror to non-fiction isn't unheard of in this boom of streaming services. Chernobyl, however, feels harrowing the more I watch it. There's only five episodes in the miniseries, and after watching the fourth episode, I palpably felt a piece of my soul wither away.

This is where my review hits spoiler territory in the vaguest of ways, but telling you it was a colossal fuck up is like spoiling Titanic by saying "It sank."

Over the course of the four episodes we have watched a reenactment of the greatest nuclear disaster in atomic level detail of the setting and the repercussions; we have watched first responders get ill, boil from the inside out, and die; we have watched Soviet bureaucrats pass the blame as aforementioned first responders suffered their fate; and an entire nation try to hide that this was their failure. It is a horror on the personal, local, and national level. A great evil was done and in the penultimate episode we're beginning to learn that it's not a blameless evil. It is evil though, and the things this nation must do to protect from the evil will cost men their lives and parts of their souls.

It sounds a tad hyperbolic, unless you've seen the show. And all this is done with subtlety and treating those involved with a grace and dignity that I'm honestly not familiar seeing in Western media. It's no secret that Russkies are a favored villain in Western media and so consuming something that treats not just the actors in this setting but the very setting itself with utmost respect has been overwhelming at times.

The writing has been phenomenal, the direction has been nail biting in tension, the makeup for the radiation sickness has been beyond realistic, the cinematography has been truly phenomenal... I could go on and on. With these kind of articles I try to have some opinion about theme or storytelling, but instead I'll leave you with the desire to watch and enjoy this for yourself.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this, throw me some coin so I can buy more laserdisc:


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