HBO’s ‘Chernobyl’ is as Much Allegory as it is History

HBO’s Chernobyl, a five-episode miniseries that aired on the network to not only document the events that led up to the nuclear catastrophe in the former Soviet Union, but also served to get the bitter, disappointing taste of the Game of Thrones finale out of our mouths.

This miniseries was grim, upsettingly tense, and filled with an all-encompassing dread because, after all, how else could you approach an ecological and human disaster happening right in front of you that is ignored by those in power because it is inconvenient? Radiation… Sea level rise… it’s all pretty much the same thing, really. The same players, the same result and it seems that the true challenge is not the evacuations or the cleanups, it’s getting the truth out from under those who don’t want it out.

The allegory is there and it’s pretty obvious when you stop and look at it.

But that’s the great thing about the Chernobyl miniseries. It’s got a message, but it’s delivered with such raw honesty and without the usual bombacity that historical dramas like this are delivered with. Chernobyl feels poisonous… a heavy feeling of dread hangs on every scene. There is no comedy relief, no heroes walk out of the rubble, and even the architects of the disaster – the true architects – seem to escape justice. This is an unplesant story, yet it is told in an addictive way… part historical drama, part morality play, part courtroom drama, part disaster movie, and part allegory on current events. Its delivery is so effortless that you could say it’s artistic… as though it teaches lessons without the viewer knowing they’re being taught, the knowledge passed on through osmosis rather than with the customary sledgehammer to the face.

It’s just gripping… absolutely gripping. You don’t want to see the events unfold, yet the incredible drama unfolding in front of you, delivered by some amazing actors playing some amazing parts, demands your attention.

Having just watched the finale episode, I can honestly say that this miniseries will be regarded as not just a classic, but an important classic.

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