Last updated: June 3, 2019

3 Brief Thoughts on HBO’s Chernobyl Miniseries



If you’ve been living under a rock, there’s this new HBO miniseries called “Chernobyl” which has been sweeping across the globe in the last five weeks. Well, I finally got around to watching the first couple of episodes last night, and…

It’s pretty good.

I’d also prefer that it was in Russian instead of English. At this point, I find it laughable to hear an American actor constantly saying, “Comrade Alexei/Dmitri/Vladimir/etc.”

Nobody talks like that.

Nonetheless, bad Russian aside, the acting is pretty good so far, as are the effects. Having been to Chernobyl myself, it’s also an accurate take on the place itself.

Here’s the preview of it:

Thought #1:

Why on Earth did I go to Chernobyl back in 2016?

That was stupid of me.

Do I still have the same shoes I wore there?

I know I still had the shirt I wore this year, and just threw it away this year….hmm, also stupid of me.

Just kidding, of course, it’s perfectly safe to visit now…

…I think.

Thought #2:

Man, this show pretty much sums up the entire Soviet mentality from everything I’ve ever read on the subject.

Namely, that “The State” is always right, the people are just sheep, and that someone would rather kill millions of people than risk being wrong – therefore losing face and having to face the music.

Speaking of faces.

Sort of reminds me of this old Russian short story that always makes me chuckle…

“A magical fish offers to grant one wish to a Russian peasant. He is wondering which treasures he should request from the fish. Then, the fish explains that whatever the peasant wishes for and receives himself, his neighbor will receive double.

The peasant says…

“Ok, then I want you to poke out one of my eyes.”

Here’s a couple of books I like and recommend on the subject of Soviet-ism.

I also liked and enjoyed reading Bill Browder’s Red Notice, but after going through it a second and third time, there’s some things with it that I don’t think add up…

Nonetheless, it’s a good read and certainly can give you some insight into “how things are” out here in the Former Soviet Union.

Thought #3: My, How Things Change…

Actually taken by me in Chernobyl, May 2016. Click the image to view the whole gallery of photos.

In my humble opinion, Ukrainian is going through sweeping changes.

They are moving further and further away from Russia, as evidenced by the elections. While a few years ago, it would be hard to fathom it’s become as rapidly European as it has since I moved back in 2018, it just goes to show…

…time moves quick.

I’m sure the people who had to flee from Pripyat all those years ago never imagined how quickly Chernobyl would become a tourist site just a couple of decades later.

It’ll be interesting to see where this country is in another five years, much less two decades…

All we can do is wait and see.

More coming on the series as I finish it this week.

PS: If you’d like to learn more about dating in the FSU, head to this article and give it a read.

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  1. Another note…my friend Ryan on Twitter had some interesting comments.

    “The director explained why he wanted Americans and brits to play the Russian and Ukrainian real-life people.

    And it made complete sense.

    (I can’t find the link right now).

    But I agree with the rest! Haha

    Just asked my girl where we heard it.

    It was in the Chernobyl podcast.

    The reasoning was they didn’t want people to be distracted by heavy-Russian accents, and when they had the actors try to fake the accent, they were too focused on the accent, instead of the scene.

    There were a few other reasons as well, but I can’t recall the exact explanation.

    In any case, I had the same thought as you; but that’s probably because we’ve lived in Eastern Europe haha.

    1. My response to this:

      American actors, no matter how good they are…it’s just laughable hearing them speak with heavy accents, plus all the “slang” they throw in (i.e. “comrade” every other word).

      This is something I wouldn’t mind seeing dubbed in Russian.

  2. “At this point, I find it laughable to hear an American actor constantly saying, “Comrade Alexei/Dmitri/Vladimir/etc.”” Actually, they did talk like that in Soviet times. The term used was “товарищ”. Usually in the workplace. Or they used, still do, patronymic names in more formal settings. I lived in Ukraine for 20 years. Ask your girlfriend’s Parents or Grandparents about how people were addressed in those times. The Soviet Union had its own formalities and customs.

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