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HBO recently launched a series called “Chernobyl” which chronicles the events of the 1986 nuclear accident and how a team of scientists halted further disaster. If you think that a five episode miniseries can’t change the way you feel about humanity, you’re wrong.
After receiving praise on social media for the historical accuracy, writer and producer Craig Mazin immediately shares credit for getting the details right with his team. The costumes, set, and props help tell the story, the haunting soundtrack moves you along as you struggle to believe what is happening, and the star studded cast bring it all home.
If you’re not familiar with the history, the miniseries follows the 1986 explosion of the nuclear power plant in the USSR. In one of the worst manmade catastrophes in history, the meltdown contaminated all nearby vegetation, land, and water exposing hundreds of thousands of people to radiation. The material spread over a large area, flooding the air of the nearby company town of Pripyat with radioactive material.
Details were obscured thoroughly by Soviet officials at the time, but the story comes down to human behavior. The test that led to the meltdown and the aftermath was completely mismanaged by those in charge who willfully chose not to share critical details with those involved. After the initial blast, the fear of a second explosion weaves an ever more complex web of lies and deception.
Although the story is supposedly about the disaster, it’s also a cautionary tale of people who choose to ignore truth and the wisdom of scientists. The danger of propaganda when dealing with a crisis is that the science doesn’t care what you believe to be true. As Mazin says, “Chernobyl was a failure of humans whose loyalty to (or fear of) a broken governing party overruled their sense of decency and rationality.”
Megan Southard is a writer, mom, technology enthusiast, and movie junkie. She dreads the day her kids have to explain gadgets to her and is old enough to say, "I was the remote for our TV growing up."
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