Why is TV series Chernobyl such a big hit?

The television series Chernobyl, which follows the events of 26 April 1986, is making waves on social networks and in the traditional media. Viewers voted it the best series ever on the website IMDb. Commentators have also tuned in and explain what they like most about the series.

Open/close all quotes
Gazeta Polska Codziennie (PL) /

The heroes who saved Europe

At last the real heroes of the tragedy are being honoured, comments Gazeta Polska Codziennie:

“Unexpectedly but deservedly, the American-British series Chernobyl has become a global hit. It reminds us of the forgotten tragedy of Chernobyl in 1986. Most of the heroes who remained in the reactor were never properly acknowledged. Many of them have been left to vegetate on pitiful pensions. The series shows what the USSR system looked like. At the same time it pays homage to the liquidators, also known as 'biorobots' [whose job it was to remove the contaminated rubble]. Many of them paid the highest price of all for this. ... Their sacrifices saved us from an even greater tragedy that would have extended far beyond the affected areas (in today's Belarus, in Ukraine and in Russia). They saved all Europe.”

Novaya Gazeta (RU) /

Homo Sovieticus redeemed

What Novaya Gazeta likes about the series is that in the midst of all the adversities it shows the human face of the Soviet system:

“The Soviet ideology worked on the assumption that human nature is mouldable and that people could be trained to become 'new communist beings' if the appropriate changes were made to their living conditions. Chernobyl shows a different version: 'The builders of communism' retain their humanity not thanks to but despite the system in which they exist. The planned economy and party censorship brought out the worst elements of human nature: systematic lying, doublethink and submissiveness to one's superiors - all this is clearly depicted in the series. It was only possible to prevent Chernobyl from having global repercussions because the concepts of duty, empathy and honour inherent to all humans regardless of social status still existed despite the system.”

Apostrophe (UA) /

Today's disaster is also being played down

Environmental protectionist Pavlo Wishebaba comments on the website Apostroph that the series contains many parallels with today's world:

Climate change is destroying human lives and habitats, killing off species and threatening all life forms. And all of this is happening in an atmosphere that is very similar to that of Soviet society at the time of the Chernobyl disaster. Scientists have sounded the alarm, the government says that everything is under control, and many people don't understand the full scale of the catastrophe. ... 'Chernobyl' is important as a filmed chronicle of events. ... But the series doesn't just look back on this horrific tragedy. It has also awakened in me the hope that 'the living and the unborn' will proclaim the truth and not allow the worst-case scenario - the destruction of all life on our planet - to become reality.”

Dnevnik (BG) /

Chernobyl series triggers old controversy

The HBO series Chernobyl has provoked widely varying reactions in Bulgaria, Dnevnik observes:

“It turns out that there are a large number of doubters in Bulgaria who believe the tragedy never happened and that it was all just propaganda. They probably also believe that the Earth is flat. Unfortunately they've driven those who feel obliged to explain again and again what really happened in Chernobyl to take action, with the result that once again a row has broken out between the 'Ostalgics' and the realists. A row that will only stop when our society finally starts to confront its past without emotions and with the necessary objectivity.”