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HBO Series About Chernobyl Disaster Is Wildly Popular, Highest Ratings Ever

Critics and viewers are raving about the quality of this series, saying it ranks with the best of all time.

Checkpoint Asia is an excellent news site by a former deputy editor of ours crucial to RI between 2014 and 2019. Best news and commentary ranging from Russia, to China, to Imperial misadventures in the Middle East. Smart, incisive, and with an anti-Empire bent.

While everyone is still trying to process the finale and final season of Game of Thrones in their own way, one common refrain is “don’t cancel HBO until you at least watch Chernobyl.” It’s a harrowing, gripping account of the Chernobyl disaster in Russia [Ukrainian SSR actually], and three episodes in, it has already hit a pretty stunning milestone.

<figcaption>It’s not a documentary. It takes liberties so it can tell a better story, but it’s a good show so far. Not hugely interested in sending a political message or Russia-bashing either — and wouldn’t work if it was</figcaption>
It’s not a documentary. It takes liberties so it can tell a better story, but it’s a good show so far. Not hugely interested in sending a political message or Russia-bashing either — and wouldn’t work if it was
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Chernobyl is currently ranked as IMDB’s highest rated TV series in history.

IMDB fan voting has its issues to be sure, but when you look at the list, it’s hard to argue that most of these shows don’t deserve to be on it, and it’s impressive that Chernobyl sits above all them, and is doing so with a not insignificant amount of votes.

Here are the top ten shows of all time according to the site at the present moment. If shows are tied, I assume that the un-rounded average is a bit lower for the other shows.

  1. Chernobyl (9.7 – 52,000 votes)
  2. Planet Earth II (9.5 – 71,000 votes)
  3. Band of Brothers (9.5 – 317,000 votes)
  4. Planet Earth (9.4 – 147,000 votes)
  5. Breaking Bad (9.4 – 1,200,000 votes)
  6. Game of Thrones (9.4, 1,500,000 votes)
  7. Our Planet (9.4 – 10,000 votes)
  8. The Wire (9.3 – 244,000 votes)
  9. Cosmos (9.3 – 95,000 votes)
  10. Blue Planet (9.3 – 19,000 votes)

Rounding out the top 20 are other picks like Rick and Morty, The Sopranos, Avatar: The Last Airbender and Sherlock. Moving into the top 50 you’ll find Firefly, Black Mirror, Arrested Development, Seinfeld, Friends and Stranger Things.

I don’t know if you can make the argument that Chernobyl is the greatest show ever made after just three episodes, but it’s hard to deny that it’s anything other than an absolutely stunning achievement of filmmaking and deserving the accolades it’s getting. As Game of Thrones went on a quality rollercoaster during season 8, without fail I was dying to watch Chernobyl the next day (err, poor choice of words, perhaps), because even though it’s essentially just a historical documentary, it’s just so damn good that it’s easily one of the best shows on TV right now, and absolutely has the chance to be an all-time great when all is said and done, as it seems unlikely a miniseries like this is suddenly going to suffer from sort of great drop in quality going forward.

The bad news? This is a short series. There are only going to be five episodes total, fewer than the eight or six many were guessing at. And given that it’s, you know, history, there’s not going to be a season 2, no matter how acclaimed it may be.

So enjoy Chernobyl while it lasts and realize that in many ways, you’re witnessing TV history. It may be getting 8% of the viewership of Game of Thrones, but it’s absolutely a reason to keep your HBO subscription a little longer. [Or just torrent it from PirateBay.]

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