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‘Chernobyl’ Wins Emmy for Outstanding Limited Series

HBO's dramatization of the Soviet Union’s 1986 nuclear disaster is the year's late-in-the-season breakout show.

Chernobyl HBO Episode 1



Chernobyl” was one of 2019’s most celebrated shows, and the acclaimed HBO historical drama secured its mark on television history by winning the Emmy for Outstanding Limited Series Sunday evening.

The five-part miniseries dramatized the Soviet Union’s 1986 nuclear disaster and the subsequent cleanup efforts. “Chernobyl” was often a harrowing and bleak watch—understandable, given its subject matter—but that didn’t stop critics from praising the series. IndieWire’s Ben Travers gave the show an A- and referred to it as a “stunning dramatization” in his April review.

Series creator and writer Craig Mazin gave special thanks to the people of Lithuania, where much of “Chernobyl” was filmed, in an acceptance speech. Mazin also won the Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series or TV Movie earlier in the evening. Mazin’s dark writing some creative liberties, but much of “Chernobyl” was rooted in historical accuracy. Actors including Jared Harris, Stellan Skarsgård, and Emily Watson led an ensemble cast that portrayed various scientists, engineers, and Soviet officials who responded to the disaster.

Historical dramas have been growing in popularity in recent years, and the success of recent shows, including “Chernobyl,” “The Crown,” and “Vikings,” indicates that the genre won’t die out anytime soon.

The Outstanding Limited Series win for “Chernobyl” was a high point in an especially successful awards season for the breakout show. “Chernobyl” was nominated for 19 Emmys and won 7 during the Creative Arts Emmys on Sunday, September 15. The series’ warm critical reception was part of a particularly strong awards season for HBO Entertainment, which received more than twice as many Emmy nominations than any other studio in July.

“Chernobyl” beat out Showtime’s “Escape at Dannemora,” FX’s “Fosse/Verdon,” Netflix’s “When They See Us,” and fellow HBO miniseries “Sharp Objects” to secure its Emmy. “Chernobyl” was a favorite among the IndieWire team and the Outstanding Limited Series battle was expected to be between the series and the aforementioned “When They See Us.”

The 71st Primetime Emmys aired Sunday, Sept. 22 at 8 p.m. ET on Fox. Follow IndieWire on Twitter and Facebook for all the latest Emmys news, including live updates as the awards air Sunday night. You can also read all of IndieWire’s Emmys coverage on our awards homepage.

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