'Chernobyl': the true story behind the tragedy

Devastating pictures of the Ukrainian city most affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster

Stars Insider

05/30/19 | StarsInsider

TRAVEL Pripyat

'Chernobyl' is the hottest show on TV. The dark historical drama tells the story of a nuclear disaster in the Ukrainian SSR. Unlike 'Black Mirror' or 'Game of Thrones,' this is not a work of fiction. The Chernobyl disaster was one of the world's worst man-made catastrophes. There's an all-star ensemble cast playing the real-life people who all had a role in the historical disaster. Jared Harris, Stellan Skarsgård, and Emily Watson are some of the leading stars, who you'll undoubtedly see on stage during awards season.

The show also has an unlikely creator in Craig Mazin, who has lead an interesting career. Mazin has a past writing 'Scary Movie' and 'The Hangover' sequels, and is also writing the new 'Charlie's Angels' remake.

'Chernobyl' is extremely popular with viewers. Around a million people watch it week-in, week-out, and it's became highly buzzed-about on social media. But the show isn't just popular with audiences, it's a critical smash too. The show has an approval rating of around 96% on Rotten Tomatoes, with the consensus reading "'Chernobyl' rivets with a creeping dread that never dissipates, dramatizing a national tragedy with sterling craft and an intelligent dissection of institutional rot." The show has earned high praise for its historical accuracy, with 'The Atlantic' writing that the show is a "grim disquisition on the toll of devaluing the truth." Meanwhile, The Washington Post said 'Chernobyl' showed "what happens when lying is standard and authority is abused."

The show wasn't shot in Chernobyl, but in Fabijoniškės, a residential district in Vilnius, Lithuania. Show creators used the "sister plant," the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant. The real Chernobyl is arguably unsafe to explore, but many travelers love the thrilling extreme tourist destination.

The real-life city of Pripyat was stopped in time after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, and today is considered a fascinating yet terrifying portrait of the old Soviet Union. The abandoned city has been overrun by nature, which has been thriving the last 33 years despite the high radiation levels. Click through the gallery to see the destruction that this catastrophe left in its wake. 

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