📺 Watched Chernobyl.

The catastrophic disaster that followed after the Chernobyl nuclear power station melted down and exploded in 1986 is something that I feel like I’ve “always” known of but with with very little grasp of the what and why behind the event. Even more than 3 decades later it seems to remain within the public consciousness to some extent, occasionally deterring people from embracing the idea of nuclear power plants, frustrating those who feel like nuclear is an essential part of the climate change solution.

On the other hand, these days the site appears to have become a common enough stop for “disaster tourists”, with social media influencers chasing the clicks. There’s a Chernobyl tourist information centre that sells “T-shirts, hot-dogs, fridge magnets, gas masks and, if you so choose, a full nuclear fallout suit”.

In any case, this TV show won many awards, and basically universal acclaim from everyone I personally know who watched it. I don’t think it was initially available to watch the UK but if you have a Now TV subscription it’s been there a while. And I certainly found it worth watching, now feeling like I have a much better grasp on the circumstances that surrounded the catastrophe and the context within which it occurred. This is no bland documentary though, the drama is as gripping and compulsive as in any other show I’ve seen in recent times. There are some upsetting scenes, as you might imagine.

Of course a risk in these dramatization of real events is that they do not in fact reflect the real event in question all that much. Witness the allegations against The Crown for instance. But this one I understand was at least largely driven by fact.

Plenty of liberties and editorial decisions were of course taken; representing a whole segment of people with an individual, making court case testimony a lot more dramatic and dynamic than it actually was, that kind of thing. The nature of the event is also such that the full and unvarnished truth may in any case never be fully known by anyone outside of those who were involved.

But something I really appreciated and I wish every such “dramatisation of a real event” show would do was the release of an official accompanying podcast that explained where each episode diverged from reality and why those decisions were made.