A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
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.
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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?
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