A Russian television channel is reportedly producing a series to challenge HBO’s Chernobyl amid criticisms of the American miniseries for its retelling of the 1986 nuclear disaster.
In a recent column for the independent Moscow Times, writer Ilya Shepelin states director Aleksei Muradov is working with Russian network NTV on its own Chernobyl programme.
Shepelin states the competing series will not present the same conclusions as Craig Mazin‘s drama: that a combination of reckless individual actions and the unchecked pride of the Soviet political system led to the explosion of a faulty nuclear reactor in the former Soviet Ukraine.
Instead, Muradov’s series will allegedly assign blame America, the Soviet Union’s longtime enemy, for the devastating incident. Per Shepelin:
As justification for the story, the film’s director, Alexei Muradov, cited fringe conspiracy theorists: “One theory holds that Americans had infiltrated the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and many historians do not deny that, on the day of the explosion, an agent of the enemy’s intelligence services was present at the station.”
Shepelin writes that Chernobyl has faced criticism from some Russian media outlets sympathetic to the nation’s current leadership. Those critiques range from minor errors in set design to claims of outright fabrication.
Despite standing atop IMDb’s user review listing as the best TV show of all time, Chernobyl has faced its own critiques in Western media. For the New Yorker, Masha Gessen posits that Mazin didn’t go hard enough on the Soviet regime:
It was the system, made up primarily of pliant men and women, that cut its own corners, ignored its own precautions, and ultimately blew up its own nuclear reactor for no good reason except that this was how things were done. The viewer is invited to fantasize that, if not for [Chernobyl deputy chief-engineer Anatoly] Dyatlov, the better men would have done the right thing and the fatal flaw in the reactor, and the system itself, might have remained latent. This is a lie.
For what it’s worth, Mazin has been open about the fact Chernobyl is not a strict retelling of responses to the disaster, but that’s due to the constraints of the miniseries format as much as the opacity of Soviet record-keeping. After all, the pivotally important character of Ulyana Khomyuk (Emily Watson) was created as an avatar for the entire scientific community.
There are scarce few details available about Muradov’s upcoming “detective” drama on IMDb, but Russian viewers may nudge the series up the site’s rankings when it eventually airs.