Chernobyl (miniseries)

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Chernobyl
Poster showing Chernobyl the five part miniseries for HBO
Genre
Created byCraig Mazin
Written byCraig Mazin
Directed byJohan Renck
Starring
Composer(s)Hildur Guðnadóttir
Country of origin
  • United States
  • United Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of episodes5 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)
Producer(s)Sanne Wohlenberg
Production location(s)
  • Lithuania
  • Ukraine
CinematographyJakob Ihre
Editor(s)
  • Jinx Godfrey
  • Simon Smith
Camera setupSingle-camera
Running time59–72 minutes
Production company(s)
  • HBO
  • Sky UK
  • Sister Pictures
  • The Mighty Mint
  • Word Games
DistributorHBO International
Release
Original network
Picture formatUHDTV 2160p
Original releaseMay 6 (2019-05-06) –
June 3, 2019 (2019-06-03)
External links
Website

Chernobyl is a 2019 historical drama television miniseries produced by HBO and Sky UK. Created and written by Craig Mazin and directed by Johan Renck, the series revolves around the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of April 1986 and the cleanup efforts that followed. It features an ensemble cast led by Jared Harris, Stellan Skarsgård, Emily Watson and Paul Ritter.

The five-part series premiered in the United States on May 6, 2019, and concurrently in the United Kingdom on May 7, to critical acclaim. At the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards, it received nineteen nominations and won for Outstanding Limited Series, Outstanding Directing, and Outstanding Writing, while Harris, Skarsgård, and Watson received acting nominations. At the 77th Golden Globe Awards, the series won for Best Miniseries or Television Film and Skarsgård won for Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Miniseries or Television Film.[2][3]

While the series was exhaustively researched, some liberties were taken for dramatic purposes and certain critics, experts and people who have witnessed the events pointed out historical and factual discrepancies present in the show.[4][5]

Premise[edit]

Chernobyl dramatizes the story of the April 1986 nuclear plant disaster which occurred in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, Soviet Union, telling the stories of the people who caused the disaster and those who responded to it.[6] The series depicts some of the lesser-known stories of the disaster, including the efforts of the firefighters who were the first responders on the scene, volunteers, and teams of miners who dug a critical tunnel under Reactor 4.

The miniseries is based in large part on the recollections of Pripyat locals, as told by Belarusian Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich in her book Voices from Chernobyl.[7]

Cast[edit]

Main[edit]

Recurring[edit]

  • Adam Lundgren as Vyacheslav Brazhnik, the senior turbine operator at Chernobyl.
  • Karl Davies as Viktor Proskuryakov, a senior reactor control engineer trainee at Chernobyl.
  • Donald Sumpter as Zharkov, a Pripyat executive committee member.
  • Billy Postlethwaite as Boris Stolyarchuk, the senior unit #4 control engineer at Chernobyl.
  • Joshua Leese as Igor Kirschenbaum, a senior turbine control engineer at Chernobyl.
  • Nadia Clifford as Svetlana Zinchenko, a doctor treating Vasily Ignatenko and others with radiation sickness.
  • Jamie Sives as Anatoly Sitnikov, the deputy chief operational engineer at Chernobyl sent to inspect the exploded core.
  • Baltasar Breki Samper as Alexei Ananenko [uk], one of the volunteers who drained water in Chernobyl's basement to prevent an explosion.
  • Philip Barantini as Valeri Bezpalov [uk], one of the volunteers who drained water in Chernobyl's basement to prevent an explosion.
  • Oscar Giese as Boris Baranov [uk], one of the volunteers who drained water in Chernobyl's basement to prevent an explosion.
  • Douggie McMeekin as Aleksandr Yuvchenko, a senior engineer-mechanic on duty the night of the explosion.
  • Michael Socha as Mikhail, a resident of Pripyat and father of a young baby who are both present on the bridge watching the fire.

Guest[edit]

Episodes[edit]

No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date (EDT)[b]US viewers
(millions) [c]
UK viewers
(millions) [d]
1"1:23:45"Johan RenckCraig MazinMay 6, 2019 (2019-05-06)0.756[12]0.861[13]
On the second anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, Valery Legasov, chief of the commission investigating it, records tapes blaming engineer Anatoly Dyatlov and other superiors for the incident, before hiding the tapes and hanging himself in his Moscow apartment (in real life he died the day after the second anniversary).[11] Two years earlier in Pripyat, firefighter Vasily Ignatenko's pregnant wife Lyudmilla witnesses Reactor 4 of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant exploding (at 01:23:45 a.m.). At Reactor 4's control room, Dyatlov dismisses evidence that their reactor core has exploded. He calls in firefighters and workers, and futilely orders subordinates to manually lower control rods and restore cooling before leaving his post. Multiple plant workers and firefighters, including Vasily, subsequently suffer from acute radiation syndrome (ARS). Plant Director Bryukhanov, Chief Engineer Fomin and Dyatlov conclude that a hydrogen explosion caused leakage of contaminated vessel water, and the Pripyat Executive Committee elects to downplay the incident and blocks evacuation. Deputy chief operational engineer Sitnikov reports seeing nuclear graphite on the ground and the others reject this. As Dyatlov succumbs to ARS, they force Sitnikov to the roof to make a visual inspection, where he receives a lethal dose of radiation. Legasov is informed of an under control accident at Chernobyl and ordered to provide technical advice to the committee managing the response.
2"Please Remain Calm"Johan RenckCraig MazinMay 13, 2019 (2019-05-13)1.004[14]0.891[13]
Seven hours after the explosion, Ulana Khomyuk detects a spike in radiation levels in Minsk. When her concerns are dismissed by local authorities, she sets out for Chernobyl, the likely source. At Pripyat's overloaded hospital, Lyudmilla finds that Vasily and the other ARS patients have been evacuated to Moscow. In Moscow, Legasov explains to Mikhail Gorbachev that the situation is more serious than reported and is sent to Chernobyl with a skeptical Boris Shcherbina. From a helicopter, Legasov points out graphite debris and a blue glow from ionizing radiation, indicating the core is exposed. Shcherbina confronts Bryukhanov and Fomin, who accuse Legasov of misinformation, but General Pikalov has high-range dosimeter readings that prove Legasov is correct. Legasov instructs the military to suppress the fire with sand and boron as an initial step but with risks of its own. As news of the incident spreads, Pripyat is finally evacuated. Upon arrival, Khomyuk warns Legasov and Shcherbina that a destructive steam explosion will occur if the molten core establishes contact with water in the flooded basement. A lethal mission to drain the water is authorized and plant workers Ananenko, Bezpalov, and Baranov volunteer.
3"Open Wide, O Earth"Johan RenckCraig MazinMay 20, 2019 (2019-05-20)1.063[15]1.100[13]
The basement is successfully drained, but a nuclear meltdown has begun, threatening to contaminate the groundwater. Shcherbina and Legasov report to Gorbachev that a heat exchanger is needed under the plant, for which Mikhail Shchadov recruits from Tula coal miners, led by Glukhov, to excavate a tunnel in extremely adverse conditions. Shcherbina warns Legasov that they are under KGB surveillance. Legasov sends Khomyuk to a Moscow hospital, where she finds Dyatlov uncooperative but learns from dying Toptunov and Akimov that the reactor exploded after Akimov initiated an emergency shutdown, a scenario thought impossible. Bribing her way into the hospital and lying about her pregnancy, Lyudmilla is allowed to visit Vasily, witnessing the harrowing deterioration of his health and disobeying orders by staying with her husband longer than instructed. During Khomyuk's visit to the hospital, she witnesses Vasily touching Lyudmilla. Realizing that Lyudmilla is pregnant, Khomyuk threatens to report everything to the committee and is arrested by KGB agents. She is imprisoned, but Legasov arranges her release. As Shcherbina and Legasov report to the Central Executive Committee their decontamination plans requiring the mass mobilization of liquidators, Lyudmilla stands among relatives of other deceased ARS victims as Vasily's body, sealed in a zinc casket, is buried in concrete at a mass grave.
4"The Happiness of All Mankind"Johan RenckCraig MazinMay 27, 2019 (2019-05-27)1.193[16]1.311[13]
Residents are evacuated from the wider Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and decontamination operations are underway. Civilian draftee Pavel is paired with Soviet–Afghan War veteran Bacho to patrol the Zone to shoot and dispose of abandoned animals due to radioactive contamination. Chernobyl liquidator commander General Nikolai Tarakanov deploys Lunokhod programme rovers to clear the plant's roof for a shelter. After a West German police robot almost instantly fails on the most irradiated level, Tarakanov is forced to cycle 3,828 liquidators to clear it by hand, allowed only 90 seconds each, once. Khomyuk investigates the Moscow archives and confronts a recovering Dyatlov, who knows the government is not interested in the truth. Meeting away from KGB bugs, Shcherbina and Legasov inform Khomyuk they must testify as experts in the trial of Dyatlov, Bryukhanov, and Fomin, and Legasov will address the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Khomyuk reveals an article about an identical incident at the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant in 1975, suppressed by the KGB, and tells them Lyudmilla gave birth to a girl who soon died from radiation poisoning. Khomyuk urges Legasov to tell the IAEA the complete truth, while Shcherbina urges caution to avoid government retaliation.
5"Vichnaya Pamyat"[e]Johan RenckCraig MazinJune 3, 2019 (2019-06-03)1.089[17]2.112[13]
Following Legasov's testimony to the IAEA in Vienna, in which he lies, Dyatlov, Bryukhanov, and Fomin are put on trial in the abandoned city of Chernobyl. Shcherbina is called first to give testimony, explaining the general workings of a nuclear power plant. Khomyuk and Legasov testify on the events leading up to the accident, based on interviews with people in the control room. Flashbacks show that due to a ten-hour delay in a safety test and Dyatlov's impatience to carry it out, the reactor stalled, then experienced a power spike. Akimov activated the emergency shutdown, but a design flaw in the control rods spiked the power to at least ten times the reactor's limit before it exploded. Legasov reveals the suppressed information about the Leningrad plant, admitting he lied in his previous testimony in Vienna. He is detained by the KGB and informed that his testimony will be suppressed in the state media; furthermore, he is forbidden to speak to anyone about Chernobyl, he will receive no credit for his role in containing the disaster, and he will never work again. The ending shows pictures and video of the real-life Legasov and other major figures, revealing their fates, as well as the ongoing aftermath of the accident. It ends with a statement that the show was dedicated to those who "suffered and sacrificed."

Production[edit]

Development and writing[edit]

Writer Craig Mazin began researching for the project in 2014, by reading books and government reports from inside and outside the Soviet Union. Mazin also interviewed nuclear scientists to learn how a reactor works, and former Soviet citizens to gain a better idea of the culture in 1986. Mazin also read several first-person accounts in order to bring additional authenticity to the story. He explained, "When you're reading the personal stories of people who were there—people who lived near the plant, people who worked at the plant, people who were sent to Chernobyl as part of the effort to clean it up—in those individual accounts, that's really where the story came alive".[18]

Mazin's interest in creating the series originated when he decided to write something that addressed "how we're struggling with the global war on the truth right now".[19] Another inspiration is that he knew Chernobyl exploded, but he did not know why. He explained, "I didn't know why, and I thought there was this inexplicable gap in my knowledge ... So, I began reading about it, just out of this very dry, intellectual curiosity, and what I discovered was that, while the story of the explosion is fascinating, and we make it really clear exactly why and how it happened, what really grabbed me and held me were the incredible stories of the human beings who lived through it, and who suffered and sacrificed to save the people that they loved, to save their countrymen and to save a continent, and continued to do so, against odds that were startling and kept getting worse. I was so moved by it. It was like I had discovered a war that people just hadn't really depicted, and I became obsessed".[20] Mazin said that "The lesson of Chernobyl isn't that modern nuclear power is dangerous. The lesson is that lying, arrogance, and suppression of criticism are dangerous".[21]

In preparation for the miniseries, Mazin visited the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.[22] Mazin made the decision in the early stages not to use Russian or Ukrainian accents, and instead, have the actors use their natural accents. Mazin explained, "We had an initial thought that we didn't want to do the 'Boris and Natasha' cliched accent because the Russian accent can turn comic very easily. At first, we thought that maybe we would have people do these sort of vaguely Eastern European accents—not really strong but noticeable. What we found very quickly is that actors will act accents. They will not act, they will act accents and we were losing everything about these people that we loved. Honestly, I think after maybe one or two auditions we said 'Ok, new rule. We're not doing that anymore'".[23] Mazin also did not cast any American actors, as that could potentially pull the audience out of the story.[24]

On July 26, 2017, it was announced that HBO and Sky had given a series order to Chernobyl. It was HBO's first co-production with Sky UK. The five-episode miniseries was written by Craig Mazin and directed by Johan Renck. Mazin also served as an executive producer alongside Carolyn Strauss and Jane Featherstone, with Chris Fry and Renck acting as co-executive producers.[6][25] On March 11, 2019, it was announced that the miniseries would premiere on May 6, 2019.[26] On June 4, 2019, Craig Mazin made the original scripts of all episodes available for downloading as PDFs (see External links below).[27]

A companion podcast for the miniseries had new episodes published as each TV episode aired on HBO.[28] The podcast featured conversations between Mazin and host Peter Sagal including discussions of where the show was as true as possible to historical events and where events were consolidated or modified as part of artistic license.[29]

Casting[edit]

Simultaneously with the initial series announcement, it was confirmed that Jared Harris would star in the series.[25] On March 19, 2018, it was announced that Stellan Skarsgård and Emily Watson had joined the main cast.[30] In May 2018, it was announced that Paul Ritter, Jessie Buckley, Adrian Rawlins, and Con O'Neill also had joined the cast.[31]

Filming[edit]

Soviet-era district of Fabijoniškės (Vilnius, Lithuania) was used to portray Pripyat

Principal photography began in April 2018 in Lithuania.[25] Initial filming started on May 13, 2018, in Fabijoniškės, a residential district in Vilnius, Lithuania, which was used to portray the Ukrainian city of Pripyat, since the district maintained an authentic Soviet atmosphere. An area of densely built panel housing apartments served as a location for the evacuation scenes. Director Johan Renck heavily criticised the amount of diverse and eye-catching modern windows in the houses, but was not concerned about removing them in post-production. At the end of March, production moved to Visaginas, Lithuania, to shoot both the exterior and interior of the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant, a decommissioned nuclear power station that is sometimes referred to as "Chernobyl's sister" due to its visual resemblance and the nuclear reactor design used at both Chernobyl and Ignalina (RBMK nuclear power reactor). In early June 2018, production moved to Ukraine to shoot minor final scenes.[32] The filming of Chernobyl took 16 weeks.[33]

Music[edit]

The musical score was composed by Icelandic composer Hildur Guðnadóttir. The score incorporated some sound recordings from an actual nuclear power plant.[34]

Historical discrepancies[edit]

The series was exhaustively researched,[4] but some liberties were taken for dramatic purposes, such as Legasov being present at the trial.[35][36] The epilogue acknowledges that the character of Ulana Khomyuk is fictional, a composite of multiple Soviet scientists. Chernobyl expert Adam Higginbotham points out in an interview that there was no need for scientists to "uncover the truth"; that "many nuclear scientists knew all along that there were problems with this reactor—the problems that led ultimately to an explosion and disaster".[5] Higginbotham and others also say that the widely reported "Bridge of Death", purportedly used by Chernobyl spectators all of whom later died, is an urban legend, and Higginbotham has spoken with someone who was on the bridge.[37][38][39] The helicopter crash actually occurred months later than shown.[40][38][41]

According to disaster survivors interviewed by the BBC, the show misinterprets characters of Bryukhanov, Fomin and Dyatlov, and incorrectly portrays them as villains. Oleksiy Breus, senior engineer at the Unit 4 even considers their portrayal "not a fiction, but a blatant lie".[42]

According to The Christian Science Monitor correspondent Fred Weir, "Everybody [in Russia and Ukraine] seems to agree that the miniseries goes overboard with its characters, depicting Soviet officials and plant management as too evil and conniving".[43] Russian documentary producer Oleg Voinov who made a film about the Chernobyl disaster said that Chernobyl is "wonderfully shot, professionally edited, and the special effects are great. But it doesn't come close to reflecting reality. [...] A lot of the facts presented are just not true".[43] The New York Times reviewer Mike Hale criticized Chernobyl's "propensity toward Hollywood inflation—to show us things that didn't happen" and for taking "fictional license over the line into contrivance and melodrama". According to Hale, "Mazin puts Legasov on the witness stand at the trial and, in a stroke of pure fantasy, has him boldly denounce Soviet corner-cutting and secrecy, after which he's hauled into a back room by the KGB".[44]

The series seemingly depicts the physicist character Ulana Khomyuk believing that victims of radiation poisoning are radioactive themselves and dangerous to be around, because she reprimands the wife of Vasily Ignatenko, Lyudmilla for touching him while pregnant.[45] This might have been the belief of average people at the time as described by Lyudmilla herself,[46] but not that of a physicist as in reality, once cleaned, victims are generally not themselves dangerous.[47] The protective plastic screens around victims of Acute Radiation Syndrome (ARS) are used to protect the victims from other people due to their weaker immune system.[45] Some nurses were worried to work in the victims' proximity and indeed soldiers had to carry the bodies after their death.[48][unreliable medical source?] When turbine hall employee Shashenok experienced mortally wounding fatal shrapnel from blast debris and entrained hot particles, he, and not the responding firefighter Vasily Ignatenko who died from ARS, needed specific burial arrangements; there is no evidence that Ignatenko or the 27 other first responders required burial containment. While Shashenok alone had to be buried beneath zinc/lead or concrete, this was to prevent potential ground contamination, and not for the safety of the cemetery-attending public.[40][49][50] Lyudmilla Ignatenko, wife of Vasily Ignatenko, suggests he required similar undertaking; Lyudmilla, who was pregnant at the time but lied to the hospital staff to see her husband,[40] describes accusations from others that the radioactivity she had been exposed to around Vasily while in hospital had a life-threatening impact on her unborn child.[46][51][52] Two months later she gave birth to her baby, who died hours after being born.[40]

Leonid Bershidsky, writing for The Moscow Times, finds fault with some of the period details, writing "Some lapses were probably too costly to avoid even when the filmmakers knew about them, like modern plastic windows in Soviet buildings. But there's plenty more. Chernobyl is too far from Moscow to reach by helicopter ... Nor, of course, could Deputy Prime Minister Boris Shcherbina even imagine threatening to throw Valery Legasov, an esteemed member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, off a helicopter—this was 1986, not 1936...".[53] Writing in The New Yorker, Masha Gessen criticizes the series for depicting Soviet citizens "who appear to act out of fear of being shot. This is inaccurate: summary executions, or even delayed executions on orders of a single apparatchik, were not a feature of Soviet life after the nineteen-thirties."[54] According to Gessen, it was the reality of this power relationship that the series most seriously failed to portray. For Gessen, the scenes of scientists criticizing the system in confrontation with bureaucrats were "repetitive and ridiculous"—it would have been unthinkable. The defining condition of Soviet life was resignation.[54]

Major General Nikolai Tarakanov, who headed the real liquidators in 1986, praised HBO for a "great job" in an interview with Russian state media, but stated many of the things that did not happen. For example, stray animals were shot, but not in the residential area and not in the way portrayed in the show; radiation levels were not hidden from the liquidators; he did not see any naked miners. Also, he points to some inconsistencies with Legasov, who did not take part in a major meeting portrayed in the series as he was elsewhere at the time.[55] Plant engineer Oleksiy Breus told the BBC the miners "took off their clothes, but not like it was shown in the film, not right down to nothing".[56]

Pioneering a then novel treatment for the most exposed ARS patients in 1986,[57][58] then writing a response to the series in 2019,[59] UCLA doctor Robert Gale took issue with the suggestion his patients were dangerous to visitors along with the portrayal of Soviet authorities as reluctant to seek outside help. "I was immediately invited to come to Moscow and shortly thereafter to bring three colleagues," Gale wrote. "In my experience dealing with nuclear accidents, this is rather unusual and indicates a desire to do everything possible to help the victims—throwing politics to the wind. And whilst in Moscow, we were free to expropriate supplies and equipment from many Russian medical centers." Gale said the accident was impossible to cover-up, as portrayed by HBO. "Anyone looking at the destroyed reactor building, mass of firefighting equipment, and personnel streaming into the reactor complex—the smoke from the fire clearly visible from Pripyat about 4 km away etc.—I cannot imagine anyone would try to cover this up. It would be like standing in lower Manhattan after destruction of the Twin Towers and pretending there was no problem. ... All governments try to contain bad news of this type," notes Gale. "I see rather little difference between the initial U.S. government reaction to the Three Mile Island (TMI) accident, the initial Japan government reaction to the Fukushima-Daiichi accident, and the Soviet response to Chernobyl."[60]

Families that lived in the nearby area at the time of the disaster have criticized the series as provocative and politically motivated, giving a different view of the events and the aftermath, as well as the way the people reacted.[61]

Anna Korolevskaya, vice director of the Ukrainian National Chernobyl Museum who helped the team producing the show, says that the makers of the series "could not get beyond the biased western perception of Soviet history".[62]

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

Chernobyl received widespread critical acclaim. On Rotten Tomatoes, it has a 96% approval rating with an average score of 8.91 out of 10, based on 92 reviews. The site's critical consensus reads, "Chernobyl rivets with a creeping dread that never dissipates, dramatizing a national tragedy with sterling craft and an intelligent dissection of institutional rot".[63] On Metacritic, it has a weighted average score of 82 out of 100, based on 27 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[64] In June 2019, it became the highest-rated TV series of all-time on IMDb, with a score of 9.7/10 from over 140,000 users.[65] As of July 2020, it is the fifth-highest rated TV series with a score of 9.4/10 from over 480,000 users.[66]

Reviewers from The Atlantic, The Washington Post, and BBC observed parallels to contemporary society by focusing on the power of information and how dishonest leaders can make mistakes beyond their comprehension.[67] Sophie Gilbert of The Atlantic hailed the series as a "grim disquisition on the toll of devaluing the truth";[68] Hank Stuever of The Washington Post praised it for showcasing "what happens when lying is standard and authority is abused".[69] Meera Syal praised Chernobyl as a "fiercely intelligent exposition of the human cost of state censorship. Would love to see similar exposé" of the Bhopal disaster.[70] David Morrison was "struck by the attention to accuracy" and says the "series does an outstanding job of presenting the technical and human issues of the accident."[71] Aaron Giovannone writes critically of the series in the socialist publication Jacobin, stating that "even as we worry about the ongoing ecological crisis caused by capitalism, Chernobyl revels in the failure of the historical alternative to capitalism," which reinforces the status quo, offering us "no way out" of the crisis.[72]

Russian, Belarusian and Ukrainian response[edit]

The miniseries was well received by some critics and audience in Russia.[73][74][75] Vladimir Medinsky, Russian culture minister, whose father was one of the Chernobyl liquidators, called the series "masterfully made" and "filmed with great respect for ordinary people".[76] It was reported that Russian NTV television channel has been producing its own version of the Chernobyl story in which the CIA plays a key role in the disaster.[77][78] However, the series in question had been in production since before HBO's miniseries and was not created in response to it.[79] An apparent trailer for the series was uploaded to YouTube but was later deleted following negative reaction.[80]

The Communist Party of Communists of Russia called for a libel lawsuit against Chernobyl's writer, director and producers, describing the show as "disgusting". In a statement, party member Sergey Malinkovich spoke of the party's intentions to lobby TV regulator Roskomnadzor to request that it block local access to the series.[81] Marianna Prysiazhniuk of Vice Media notes that multiple Russian media outlets describe the miniseries as one-sided, incomplete, or anti-Russian propaganda.[82] Argumenty i Fakty dismissed the show as "a caricature and not the truth" and "The only things missing are the bears and accordions!" quipped Stanislav Natanzon, lead anchor of Russia-24, one of the country's main news channels.[83]

In Ukraine, Anna Korolevskaya, deputy director at the Chernobyl museum in Kiev, said “Today young people coming to power in Ukraine know nothing about that disaster in 1986. It was a necessary film to make and HBO have obviously tried their best; as for us, we are going to create a special tour about Chernobyl’s historic truth, inspired by the HBO series.”[84] Bermet Talant, a Ukrainian journalist, noted that "In Russia, a state that still takes pride in the Soviet legacy, the series has faced criticism from the official media. Meanwhile, many in Ukraine appreciated the series for humanizing a tragic chapter in the country’s history. […] Ukrainian viewers also appreciated HBO’s “Chernobyl” for praising the heroism and self-sacrifice of ordinary people."[85]

Belarusian Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich, whose book inspired the series, said "We are now witnessing a new phenomenon that Belarusians, who suffered greatly and thought they knew a lot about the tragedy, have completely changed their perception about Chernobyl and are interpreting this tragedy in a whole new way. The authors accomplished this, even though they are from a completely different world – not from Belarus, not from our region." She also noted its popularity with young Belarusians.[86]

US ratings[edit]

No. Title Air date Rating
(18–49)
Viewers
(millions)
DVR
(18–49)
DVR viewers
(millions)
Total
(18–49)
Total viewers
(millions)
1 "1:23:45" May 6, 2019 0.2 0.756[12] N/A N/A N/A N/A
2 "Please Remain Calm" May 13, 2019 0.3 1.004[14] 0.2 0.716 0.5 1.721[87]
3 "Open Wide, O Earth" May 20, 2019 0.3 1.063[15] 0.2 0.727 0.5 1.791[88]
4 "The Happiness of All Mankind" May 27, 2019 0.3 1.193[16] 0.3 0.809 0.6 2.003[89]
5 "Vichnaya Pamyat" June 3, 2019 0.3 1.089[17] 0.3 0.974 0.6 2.064[90]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
American Cinema Editors Best Edited Miniseries or Motion Picture for Television Jinx Godfrey and Simon Smith (for "Vichnaya Pamyat") Won [91]
American Film Institute Awards Television Programs of the Year Chernobyl Won [92]
Art Directors Guild Awards Television Movie or Limited Series Luke Hull Won [93]
Banff Rockie Award Limited series Chernobyl Won [94]
Blogos de Oro Mejor Serie Chernobyl Won [95]
Mejor Actor en una serie Jared Harris Won
Stellan Skarsgård Nominated
British Academy Scotland Awards Best Actor in Television Alex Ferns Won [96]
British Academy Television Awards Best Mini-Series Chernobyl Won [97]
Best Leading Actor Jared Harris Won
Best Supporting Actor Stellan Skarsgård Nominated
British Academy Television Craft Awards Best Director: Fiction Johan Renck Won [98]
Best Writer: Drama Craig Mazin Nominated
Best Editing: Fiction Simon Smith and Jinx Godfrey Won
Best Costume Design Odile Dicks-Mireaux Won
Best Make Up & Hair Design Daniel Parker and Barrie Gower Nominated
Best Original Music Hildur Guðnadóttir Won
Best Photography & Lighting: Fiction Jakob Ihre Won
Best Production Design Luke Hull and Claire Levinson-Gendler Won
Best Scripted Casting Nina Gold and Robert Sterne Nominated
Best Sound: Fiction Stefan Henrix, Joe Beal, Stuart Hilliker and Vincent Piponnie Won
Best Special, Visual & Graphic Effects Lindsay Mcfarlane, Claudius Christian Rauch and Jean-Clément Soret Nominated
British Film Designers Guild Awards International TV Drama including Mini Series, TV Movie or Limited Series Luke Hull, Karen Wakefield and Claire Levinson-Gendler Won [99]
Broadcast Tech Innovation Award Best VFX Project Max Dennison and Clare Cheetham Won [100]
Excellence in Grading (scripted) Chernobyl Won
Broadcasting Press Guild Awards Best Drama Series Chernobyl Won [101]
Best Actor Jared Harris Nominated
Best Actress Emily Watson Nominated
Best Writer Craig Mazin Won
Casting Society of America Limited Series Nina Gold and Robert Sterne Nominated [102]
Cinema Audio Society Awards Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for Television Movie or Limited Series Vincent Piponnier, Stuart Hilliker, Gibran Farrah and Philip Clements Won [103]
Clio Awards Trailer 1 - Gold Winner Chernobyl Won [104]
Video Promo Mixed Campaign - Gold Winner Won
Costume Designers Guild Awards Excellence in Period Television Odile Dicks-Mireaux (for "Please Remain Calm") Nominated [105]
Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Limited Series Chernobyl Nominated [106]
Best Actor in a Limited Series or Television Movie Jared Harris Nominated
Best Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Television Movie Stellan Skarsgård Won
Best Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Television Movie Emily Watson Nominated
Directors Guild of America Awards Outstanding Directing – Movies for Television and Limited Series Johan Renck Won [107]
Dorian Awards TV Drama of the Year Chernobyl Nominated [108]
Festival Nazionale del Doppiaggio Voci nell'Ombra TV – Miglior doppiaggio generale Chernobyl Nominated [109]
Gold Derby Awards Limited Series Chernobyl Won [110]
Ensemble of the Year Jared Harris, Stellan Skarsgård, Paul Ritter, Jessie Buckley, Adam Nagaitis, Con O'Neill, Adrian Rawlins, Sam Troughton, Robert Emms, Emily Watson, David Dencik, Mark Lewis Jones, Alan Williams, Alex Ferns, Ralph Ineson, Barry Keoghan, Fares Fares and Michael McElhatton Nominated
Movie/Limited Series Lead Actor Jared Harris Nominated
Movie/Limited Series Supporting Actor Stellan Skarsgård Nominated
Movie/Limited Series Supporting Actress Emily Watson Nominated
Limited Series of the Decade Chernobyl Nominated
TV Movie/Mini Actor of the Decade Jared Harris Nominated
TV Movie/Mini Supporting Actress of the Decade Emily Watson Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Limited Series or Television Film Chernobyl Won [111]
Best Actor – Limited Series or Television Film Jared Harris Nominated
Best Supporting Actor – Series, Limited Series or Television Film Stellan Skarsgård Won
Best Supporting Actress – Series, Limited Series or Television Film Emily Watson Nominated
Golden Reel Awards Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing - Dialogue and ADR for Episodic Long Form Broadcast Media Stefan Henrix, Harry Barnes, Michael Maroussas Won [112]
Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing - Sound Effects and Foley for Episodic Long Form Broadcast Media Stefan Henrix, Joe Beal, Philip Clements, Tom Stewart, Anna Wright Won
Golden Tomato Awards Best-reviewed Miniseries and Limited Series Chernobyl Won [113]
Golden Trailer Awards Best Horror/Thriller (TV Spot/Trailer/Teaser for a Series) Chernobyl Won [114]
Gotham Awards Breakthrough Series – Long Form Chernobyl Nominated [115]
Grammy Awards Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media Hildur Guðnadóttir Won [116]
Hollywood Music In Media Awards Best Original Score - TV Show/Limited Series Hildur Guðnadóttir Nominated [117]
Hollywood Post Alliance Outstanding Editing - Television (Over 30 Minutes) Simon Smith and Jinx Godfrey // Sister Pictures Nominated [118]
Outstanding Sound - Television Stefan Henrix, Stuart Hilliker, Joe Beal, Michael Maroussas and Harry Barnes // Boom Post Nominated
Outstanding Visual Effects - Television (Under 13 Episodes) Lindsay McFarlane, Max Dennison, Clare Cheetham, Steven Godfrey and Luke Letkey // DNEG Nominated
Humanitas Prize Limited Series, TV Movie or Special Category Craig Mazin (for "Vichnaya Pamyat") Nominated [119]
IGN People's Choice Awards Best TV series Chernobyl Won [120]
Best drama TV series Won [121]
Best dramatic TV performance Jared Harris Won [122]
Best TV episode "The Happiness of All Mankind" Won [123]
International Film Music Critics Association Best Original Score for Television Hildur Guðnadóttir Won [124]
Irish Film & Television Academy Awards Actor in a Supporting Role in Drama Barry Keoghan Pending [125]
Actress in a Supporting Role in Drama Jessie Buckley Pending
Location Managers Guild Awards Outstanding Locations in Period Television Jonas Spokas Won [126]
Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guilds Television Series, Mini-Series or New Media – Best Period and/or Character Make-Up Daniel Parker and Natasha Nikolic-Dunlop Nominated [127]
Television Series, Mini-Series or New Media – Best Special Make-Up Effects Daniel Parker, Barrie Gower and Paul Spateri Won
Television Series, Mini-Series or New Media – Best Period and/or Character Hair Styling Daniel Parker, Julio Parodi and Bozena Maisejenko Nominated
National Television Awards New Drama Chernobyl Won [128]
Peabody Awards Entertainment Chernobyl Won [129]
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Limited Series Craig Mazin, Carolyn Strauss, Jane Featherstone, Johan Renck, Chris Fry and Sanne Wohlenberg Won [130]
[131]
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie Jared Harris Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie Stellan Skarsgård (for "Please Remain Calm") Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie Emily Watson (for "Open Wide, O Earth") Nominated
Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special Johan Renck Won
Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special Craig Mazin Won
Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Outstanding Casting for a Limited Series, Movie, or Special Nina Gold and Robert Sterne Nominated
Outstanding Cinematography for a Limited Series or Movie Jakob Ihre (for "Please Remain Calm") Won
Outstanding Period Costumes Odile Dicks-Mireaux, Holly McLean, Daiva Petrulyte, Anna Munro and Sylvie Org (for "Please Remain Calm") Nominated
Outstanding Hairstyling for a Limited Series or Movie Julio Parodi and Jovana Jovanavic Nominated
Outstanding Make-up for a Limited Series or Movie (Non-Prosthetic) Daniel Parker and Natasha Nikolic-Dunlop Nominated
Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup for a Series, Limited Series, Movie or Special Barrie Gower, Paul Spateri and Daniel Parker Nominated
Outstanding Music Composition for a Limited Series, Movie, or Special (Original Dramatic Score) Hildur Guðnadóttir (for "Please Remain Calm") Won
Outstanding Production Design for a Narrative Period or Fantasy Program (One Hour or More) Luke Hull, Karen Wakefield and Claire Levinson-Gendler Won
Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Limited Series or Movie Jinx Godfrey (for "Open Wide, O Earth") Nominated
Simon Smith (for "Please Remain Calm") Won
Outstanding Sound Editing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Special Stefan Henrix, Joe Beal, Michael Maroussas, Harry Barnes, Andy Wade, Anna Wright (for "1:23:45") Won
Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Limited Series or Movie Stuart Hilliker and Vincent Piponnier (for "1:23:45") Won
Outstanding Special Visual Effects in a Supporting Role Max Dennison, Lindsay McFarlane, Claudius Christian Rauch, Clare Cheetham, Laura Bethencourt Montes, Steven Godfrey, Luke Letkey, Christian Waite and William Foulser (for "1:23:45") Won
Producers Guild of America Awards Outstanding Producer of Limited Series Television Craig Mazin, Carolyn Strauss, Jane Featherstone, Johan Renck, Chris Fry and Sanne Wohlenberg Won [132]
Royal Television Society Awards Mini-Series Chernobyl Nominated [133]
Actor (Male) Jared Harris Nominated
Writer (Drama) Craig Mazin Won
Royal Television Society Craft & Design Awards Director – Drama Johan Renck Nominated [134]
Music - Original Score Hildur Guðnadóttir Won
Costume Design - Drama Odile Dicks-Mireaux Won
Make Up Design - Drama Daniel Parker Won
Photography - Drama & Comedy Jakob Ihre Won
Production Design - Drama Luke Hull, Clare Levinson-Gendler Won
Sound - Drama Stefan Henrix, Stuart Hilliker, Joe Beal, Harry Barnes, Michael Maroussas Won
Satellite Awards Best Miniseries Chernobyl Won [135]
Best Actor – Miniseries or TV Film Jared Harris Won
Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or TV Film Stellan Skarsgård Nominated
Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or TV Film Emily Watson Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie Jared Harris Nominated [136]
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie Emily Watson Nominated
Sentinel Awards Topic: Nuclear safety Chernobyl Won [137]
Society of Composers and Lyricists Awards Outstanding Original Score for a Television or Streaming Production Hildur Guðnadóttir Won [138]
Television Critics Association Awards Program of the Year Chernobyl Nominated [139]
Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Miniseries and Specials Won
Venice TV Awards Best TV Series Chernobyl Won [140]
Visual Effects Society Awards Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Photoreal Episode Max Dennison, Lindsay McFarlane, Clare Cheetham, Paul Jones and Claudius Christian Rauch (for "1:23:45") Won [141]
World Soundtrack Awards Television Composer of the Year Hildur Guðnadóttir Won [142]
Writers Guild of America Awards Long Form – Original Craig Mazin Won [143]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Co-executive producer.
  2. ^ Episodes were broadcast concurrently on HBO and Sky Atlantic, on Monday at 9:00 pm EDT/Tuesday at 2:00 am BST respectively.
  3. ^ Live+Same Day data.
  4. ^ Live+7 Days four-screen data.
  5. ^ Ukrainian for "Memory Eternal", an exclamation used in Eastern Orthodox funeral or memorial services.

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