HBO’s limited series “Chernobyl” might not have broken the internet like its flagship “Game of Thrones,” but it nonetheless earned a passionate following over its five-episode run. The series has renewed interest around the world on Ukraine’s 1986 nuclear disaster, with Reuters reporting that tourism to Chernobyl has spiked following the debut of the HBO series in May.
The Chernobyl tours company SoloEast saw a 30% increase in tourists going to the area in May 2019 compared with the same month in 2018. The HBO series premiered May 6 and aired its finale June 3. SoloEast director Sergiy Ivanchuk told Reuters that bookings for June, July, and August have bumped up 40% in the aftermath of the HBO series airing around the world. Fellow tour group Chernobyl Tour has seen a similar increase. Chernobyl Tour director Yaroslav Yemelianenko said attendance has spiked 30-40% since the HBO show debuted.
All of the attention around the Chernobyl disaster has caused a stir in Russia. The Moscow Times reports the Kremlin is outraged that American television got to tell the story of Chernobyl before the Russian media. HBO’s “Chernobyl” has reportedly become a sensation in the country, but Russian media is trying to cut the success short by saying the show is a “caricature and not the truth.”
Russian television channel NTV is even promoting its own Chernobyl series inspired by a theory that American CIA agents were sent to the Chernobyl zone to carry out acts of sabotage.
The show’s director, Alexei Muradov, says of the story: “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.”
As for the response around HBO’s “Chernobyl” here in America, IndieWire recently named the series one of the best dramas of the year so far. The series, created by Craig Mazin, stars Emily Watson, Jared Harris, Stellan Skarsgård, and Jessie Buckley. All five episodes are now available to stream on HBO Go and HBO Now.