Day 6

What HBO's Chernobyl can teach us about the consequences of government lies

The series is preoccupied with the idea of truth and the cost of lies. TV and film writer Ani Bundel says it resonates strongly in a post-truth era.

The series chronicles the 1986 nuclear disaster in Soviet-era Ukraine

HBO's mini-series 'Chernobyl' delves into ideas of truth and the consequences when governments lie to cover it up. (HBO)
Listen8:34

The final words in HBO's latest miniseries Chernobyl, which dramatizes the 1986 nuclear disaster at Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, offers a pointed lesson to viewers.

"This, at last, is the gift of Chernobyl," says Valery Legasov (played by Jared Harris), a Russian chemist who provided key information during the investigation into the disaster.

"Where I once would fear the cost of truth, now I only ask … what is the cost of lies?"

The finale of Chernobyl dropped this week, and the five episode series has been acclaimed. On Tuesday, it became IMDB's highest-rated TV show.

Based in Soviet-era Ukraine, the series recreates the events leading up to — and following — the disaster and the efforts to mitigate the damage. At the time, officials were reticent to admit that there was anything wrong, and actively stemmed the flow of information.

Chernobyl is often preoccupied with ideas around truth, lies, and the consequences when facts are covered up. Ani Bundel, a TV and film writer, says the themes resonate in 2019.

"The fact of the matter is that [the U.S.] government lies to us with impunity, and it doesn't just lie with impunity, it lies carelessly," she said.

To hear more from Ani Bundel, download our podcast or click 'Listen' above.

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