The Chernobyl Podcast is a fascinating look behind the scenes of the HBO series

In May, HBO scored an unexpected hit with Chernobyl, a five-part mini-series about how the world's worst nuclear disaster unfolded. Like any dramatization of a real incident take some liberties to fit the story into the dramatic structure of television. That is where the accompanying podcast of the show is delivered: this is provided with Wait Wait Do not Tell Me & # 39;Peter Sagal interviews the creator of the series Craig Mazin about the production of the show, why they had to make a few changes and what really happened in the real disaster.


Chernobyl is a compelling show that examines how the disaster occurred and how it occurred. It doesn't open with the explosion of the infamous nuclear reactor, but from a man, Valery Legasov (the head of the USSR investigation into the incident, played by Jared Harris), musing about the importance of the truth just before he hangs himself. After flashing back to the moment the plant explodes, the series spends the next five episodes in the immediate aftermath of the disaster, how the Soviet Union took a number of unfathomable measures to control radiation, and how Soviet culture was essentially the perfect environment created for the meltdown performance.

Although you certainly do not have to listen to the podcast to enjoy the series, it is an indispensable companion for the show. After saying something about the accents of the show's actors on Twitter, the answer was immediately: listen to the podcast, they explain everything. The podcast covers a wide range of topics, examining how producers were able to convey the complexity of nuclear engineering, stories they couldn't get into the show, and reflections on the philosophical takeaways from the series.

You can listen The Chernobyl Podcast on HBO Go, YouTube, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and stitcher.

Image: HBO

The first thing that came to mind when I started listening to the podcast was: & # 39; how the hell did the host do about it Wait, wait, don't tell me participate in a show about Chernobyl? "It's a decidedly off-fire topic for Sagal, which is probably best known for the NPR comedy show during the last two decades." It's just stupid luck in my case, "Sagal told me and noted that he was first encountered Mazin when he was the last went on Twitter in 2016 to complain about his college roommate, Senator Ted Cruz. "He and I exchanged messages, and it turned out that he was listening to my program. We met in real life in the fall of last year Wait wait did a show in the Greek theater. "

"It was shortly after that he wrote to me and said," Look, my mini-series is coming out in the spring, and I really want to do a podcast. I am looking for someone to keep it with me, this kind of conversation partners to ask me questions. And I thought & # 39; Can I put on a Dick Cheney and nominate myself? & # 39; He said: & # 39; I hoped you would do that. & # 39; And that was all it was. & # 39;

Sagal outlines the goal of the podcast in the opening of the series: where the show came from, how it was produced and how closely it played along with real history. In that first episode, Mazin explains that "the only reason (s) for me to do this from the jump was to correct the story of what we do that is very accurate for history, what we do that a a little bit sideways and what we do to compress or change it, "and because the show is largely about the value of truth, he felt it was important to treat it in some medium.

Sagal said that while they had a number of items that they planned to discuss in advance, each episode was a "great, freewheeling conversation," and that he was given a free hand to discuss whatever he wanted about the show. To prepare, he watched the show twice and compared each episode with the scenario & # 39; s, and came with a series of questions to ask Mazin.


Sagal goes to the show and says he & # 39; didn't know anything about Chernobyl & # 39 ;, a perspective that is shared by many viewers. "I like to think that the end result is more accessible with me as a naive (stand in) and ask him questions instead of a fellow expert on Chernobyl. We've all heard conversations in which both people are so impressed of the subject that it simply goes well beyond the ability of a layperson to understand the problem. "

Although fictionalized in places, the show serves as a starting point for a wider audience to understand what happened in Chernobyl in 1986, and how it was much more dangerous than most people suspected. "I had no idea of ​​the extraordinary efforts it made to grasp it, and like everyone else, I had no idea what life in the Soviet Union looked like at the time." The series sees people make remarkable efforts: employees in the power plant go into the reactor to try and stop the meltdown or the trotteres going up the roof to scoop away radioactive debris. But it also shows how people made the decisions that ultimately led to the meltdown: plant officials insisted on unsafe tests and employees pushed the buttons, even knowing that there were consequences.

One point that stuck with Sagal was that & # 39; how the show illustrates how extraordinarily difficult it is to be heroic. The idea that a certain situation – and the reason why we believe this is because what movies and TV constantly tell us – doing the right thing is clear, easy and you will be rewarded for it. Life doesn't work Actually, being honest, being honest and being open is really very difficult. "

In general, podcasts have exploded in recent years due to the medium's ability to convey compelling real-world stories (think shows like This American life"S series-, for example), new versions of radio plays or comments from fans. Although there are a number of aftershows or accompanying podcasts for TV shows, as an official release of HBO, The Chernobyl podcast there is a line between a promotional project and a real special function for fans.

Sagal notes that although he is aware that the show is part of the publicity effort for the project, he hopes that his status as an independent figure gives the podcast some credibility as something that goes beyond mere publicity. "I represent – I hope – in an effective way, not the interest of the company, but the perspective of the viewers. I like to watch good TV shows and I had the opportunity to talk to the creator of the show about how and why he did it, questions that I hope other viewers have. "

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