TV review by
Marty Brown, Common Sense Media
Chernobyl TV Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Drama based on Russian disaster is brutal but relevant.

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 9 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 25 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

It's pretty bleak overall, but also about men and women who work through incredible odds and great personal sacrifice for the greater good.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Focuses on people who have expertise and fortitude to solve a seemingly insurmountable problem that is putting millions of lives at risk.


There's little person-to-person violence, but effects of radiation are often shocking and gory. A suicide (not shown on-screen) takes place in the opening minutes of the show.


No sexual content. There is, however, nonsexual full-frontal male nudity in one episode.


"Damn," "s--t," "bastard," etc.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters frequently drink and smoke.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Chernobyl is based on the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, which involved a nuclear explosion at a Russian power plant that caused many radiation-related deaths. The series focuses on the details of how the disaster happened, how it affected the area, and how it was ultimately dealt with. The show is particularly demanding of its viewers, both because of the subject and because of its deliberate pace as it depicts the explosion and its aftermath. This miniseries is at its most explicit when showing the effects of radiation and radiation poisoning, and the symptoms can be difficult to watch. Mature teens may be interested in learning about this dark moment in history, and families can discuss how governments and citizens face these kinds of challenges, as well as what people have learned from a catastrophe of this magnitude. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byVPutin May 10, 2020

Perfection for 11 and Up!

The reason for 11 and up is because they will understand what is going on. Sure there are 31 uses of ‘f—-k’ and one use of ‘t-t’ and plent of ‘s—t’ and damn and... Continue reading
Parent of a 13-year-old Written byLanguage-Really... October 21, 2019

Important Historical Depiction

Stop shielding your children from language that is appropriate to effed up situations. 50 million people were at risk. A couple of f-bombs are expected/warrante... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byNatho21 October 2, 2019

Amazing show. Must watch!

The show is accurate to the actual history of Chernobyl. The injuries are look very real. There's a bit of language. One scene the miners are naked and you... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byHydroPlaysXband... May 29, 2020

This is must watch television.

Chernobyl is an HBO miniseries about the disaster of the same name. HBO has many well crafted miniseries and series and this is one of the best. Great performan... Continue reading

What's the story?

In 1986, a large nuclear explosion took place at the CHERNOBYL power plant in the Soviet Union. This series recounts the historical event, beginning with the immediate reactions by those in the plant and the surrounding areas and telescoping out to see how the disaster was dealt with by scientists and government agents, as well as how it affected the general population of Russia. Jared Harris (The Terror) plays a nuclear expert brought in to assess the situation, assisted and hindered by officials (Stellan Skarsgard) and other scientists (Emily Watson). 

Is it any good?

This is a taut, disciplined miniseries where nearly every decision made by its characters is meaningful and suspenseful, and the magnitude of the real-life events is always looming. With historical dramas, it's always important to ask: Why are we seeing this now? With Chernobyl, it's not difficult to see parallels between the show and modern American life: Scientists attempt to deal with a monumental environmental disaster that could kill millions of people, and at every step they encounter roadblocks stemming from the egos of the men in charge. That said, shows that are "capital-I Important" are not often this dramatically satisfying. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the history of Chernobyl. When did the events dramatized on this show take place? Why do you think they're important or relevant today?

  • Once the disaster has happened, what are the different ways the characters deal with the nuclear explosion? What methods are effective? Which are harmful?

  • What are the obstacles in the way of the Russian government attending to the nuclear disaster? How do individuals work to surmount those obstacles? How do characters work together or against one another?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love drama

Themes & Topics

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