The Rewind

People Are Still Buzzing After "One Of The Greatest Feats Of Television" Aired Last Night

People Are Still Buzzing After "One Of The Greatest Feats Of Television" Aired Last Night

If HBO's and Sky Atlantic's Chernobyl passed you by, we understand why. There are few darker subjects we can imagine delving into for five hours. We didn't know enough about the Chernobyl disaster before the series started, but what we did know was grim and upsetting. It was death and mutilation and cancer and Soviet and tragic. What joy could come from learning more?

And yet, if you decided against a trip to the darker side of history, you missed out on the kind of television that is so rarely attempted and even more rarely achieved. Craig Mazin, the creator, writer and producer of the mini-series got so much right, from his accurate depiction of Soviet life in the mid-80s to the casting, especially in Jared Harris, Stellan Skjarsgaard, and Emily Watson.

Over five episodes, Mazin refused to simplify a complicated story, and yet allowed us to understand it. That alone was a masterclass in balance. Not only that, but he, incredibly, got his audience to be emotionally invested in the somehow credible relationship between a bureaucratic Soviet minster and self described "career Party man", and a nuclear physician. If you haven't seen the show, I'm not sure you'd believe that was possible.

Last night, the series culminated with an almost startling level of brilliance. The show paid off the emotional journey of the three main characters, while bringing home the story of exactly how the tragedy occurred with all the drama of a Moscow show trial. The series ended with a heartbreaking reminder of just how real this all was, from the victims to the heroes to the cover-up.

Needless to say, the world was buzzing after a close to perfect hour of television.

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If you haven't brought yourself to watch Chernobyl yet, you owe it to yourself to seek it out.

Michael McCarthy

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