Chernobyl: Breaking down fact vs. fiction in the HBO series

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Photo Credit: HBO

Did the cover-up actually happen?

In the final episode of the series, the focus is on the trial that followed the incident and shedding light on a cover-up orchestrated by higher-ranking officials. But did this actually happen? Just how much the Soviet government knew about the faulty reactors and the actual incident hasn’t been proven, but there was indeed a cover-up to hide whatever they could.

Chernobyl does a fantastic job of bringing this controversy to life with as much accuracy as they could. 1980s Soviet was a different time and place and during the incident, the blame was being passed around and pinned on anyone but the actual culprits.

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As you see in the finale, Legasov goes back and forth about how to present the truth or whether or not to tell it. Of course, he eventually does come forward but not exactly how it’s depicted in the show. Rather than a trial following the International Atomic Energy Agency meeting in Vienna, Legasov actually relays all the saddening details during the meeting. The series shows him coming clean at the trial after the meeting, which is not how it happened in real life.

Either way, the real Legasov was shunned from his community of peers and eventually took his life exactly two years after the Chernobyl incident, leaving behind a series of recorded tapes reflecting on the brutal events.

Side note: Legasov was not shown to have a family on the HBO series, however, he was married and had one child in real life.