TROUBLE CITY

Hopefully Russia's Next 'Chernobyl' Will Be Better Than Its First

Articles, Pop CultureBrandon MarcusComment

Not content with what many consider a modern day masterpiece, Russia is making its own series based on the horrible events at Chernobyl.

HBO’s Chernobyl is being hailed by damn near everyone as an instant classic. It’s moody, it’s heartbreaking, it’s filled with both exquisite storytelling and important historical accuracies. It’s also relentlessly gruesome and painful to watch. It’s the sort of programming that both a history AND filmmaking class would watch.

But of course it doesn’t go easy on the Russian government that oversaw the Chernobyl disaster. While it does showcase many sympathetic Russian characters, it blatantly points fingers at the bureaucratic bigwigs who pushed the nuclear power plant to the brink and then tried to cover up the damage being done to their fellow countrymen. So of course the modern Russian government, filled with many similar types, wouldn’t be too fond of the mini-series.

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Instead of just accepting the fact that awful things happened and awful people let those awful things happen, state-sponsored television in Russia is creating its own mini-series based on the disaster. NTV, a network known for its pro-Kremlin propaganda, has already concluded principal photography on the project. The series will focus on “a theory that Americans infiltrated the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant,” said director Alexey Muradov. “Many historians do not rule out the possibility that on the day of the explosion, an agent of the enemy’s intelligence services was working at the station.”

Ah, well at least this new series won’t have a political perspective.

I understand that the current Russian administration is very unhappy with Chernobyl but do they really think their version will change public opinion? The HBO series, while rejected by some, still earned high marks by the Russian public. Also, is it really smart to create a show about how KGB agents failed to stop the biggest disaster in Russian history? Sure, it’ll make the Americans look bad but it’ll also make the Soviets appear weak and incompetent at their jobs. I don’t know what they’re planning to achieve here.

The bottom line is that HBO’s Chernobyl is so successful and so critically-acclaimed that it is bringing attention to the disaster all these years later. That is ruffling some feathers in Russia but maybe it should. Chernobyl was an incident that could easily happen again today. Not just the nuclear reactor part, the part about those in charge trying to cover things up. While the chance of a Chernobyl or Three Mile Island event happening again is slimmer than before, the chance of a government hiding facts to maintain their narrative is not — even here in the states. While Chernobyl was excellent TV, it was also a reminder that the truth will eventually find its way out and no one — no matter how powerful — is immune to that. So do your best, NTV!