I finally got around to watching the recently finished HBO show "Chernobyl". There was a lot of hype around the mini-series at first, but then the season finale rolled around. At just 5 episodes it didn't take but a month for the show to conclude. And it ended just how it started, on top. It recently overtook the #1 spot on IMDb's top 250 tv shows. Keeping in this in the back of my mind before starting the show, I went in with a lot of expectations. Those expectations were quickly shattered.
Everyone's heard of Chernobyl and recognizes it as a nuclear disaster, and the subject of a very below average horror movie that came out in the mid 2000s. But this show sheds light on the many, many different things going on during the disaster itself as well as throughout Russia. The first episode puts you right in the middle of the Chernobyl as the workers of the Nuclear power plant scramble to find out what is going on, the firefighters that were called to the plant, and the citizens of Chernobyl. It is intense, it is saddening and it is humanizing. After the first episode, you are sent off, on just a 4 episode journey as the men and women tasked with fixing this catastrophe are trying to combat the meltdown itself as well as the communist society that works to cover up everything they're working on. As well as realizing that they will be dead in a few years due to the radiation, they commit their lives to their work (literally).
Once they "stop" the meltdown, now brings the bigger question. Who do you pin it on? This is where most shows could lose an audience. The event itself is done very well and intensely and you are engaged the whole time. But when they scramble to find out who is to blame, many show runners could take a lesser look at that part of the story, or not find the same execution as they did for the earlier episodes. But this is where Chernobyl achieves perfection. The way they smoothly lead into the "investigation" and the secrecy that goes on within the confines of the USSR, causes you to inch further onto the edge of your seat.
I could go on and on about the technical aspects of the show, the cinematography (which is the best I've seen in any TV show... EVER), or the haunting score, but I want to touch on one thing that stood out to me the most. The acting. Chernobyl is the first show that I can think of where there isn't a performance that stands about to me because it is bad. Across the board every single role, small and big, is done with such realism that they achieve what all actors want to achieve, becoming the character. There are only two big names in the show (Stellan Skarsgard and Jared Harris), both of which would have to stick out to me but that may be just because they're the main characters. But you feel like you're living out the event with these people, you truly feel like you're getting a glimpse of what the greatest nuclear catastrophe this world has ever seen was like.
I'm not going to compare this to any other show because it's incomparable, due to it's subject matter. But the execution of the writing, technical aspects and acting is what other show's need to take note of. When the writers of the show took on this project, they were well aware that this story needed to be told in a way that encapsulated all of the different themes the country dealt with. Although a show I will most likely only see once, everyone NEEDS to see this show as soon as you can.