Can Tv series teach us something about the present?

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We are a group of friends attending the Design School. We have a passion in common for Tv series and the desire not to be indifferent towards the entertainment industry, which sometimes overwhelms us. We are interested in nurturing a critical opinion and in analyzing Tv series to understand ourselves and the world that surrounds us better. Two years ago while we were on vacation together, we had the idea of meeting up to discuss TV series that we had watched;  our plan became reality and was extended to other friends and classmates.

In Mid-February, during one of our meetings, before the 9th of March decree which established lockdown, we chose the miniseries Chernobyl as the following meeting’s theme. We recognized a similarity between what was happening with the first emerging Coronavirus outbreaks and what happened in April 1986 after the Chernobyl disaster. Political leaders did not fully understand the problem, there was a lot of disinformation and the infection data were altered. It seemed that the question regarding the virus was: is it worth risking the health of millions of people just to maintain social and economic stability?

Fanwork that uses chernobyl graphics assuming a Coronavirus themed series. Source:

Chernobyl is a five episodes miniserie offered on Sky and produced by HBO after more than 30 years from the disaster. The show does not illustrate a scientific analysis of the facts, but it focuses on the stories of the people that dealt with the emergency. The main character is a Russian chemist, Valerij Alekseevič Legasov (1936-1988), who works with Ulana, a fictional character representing all the scientists who worked with Legasov. Together they try to find out the truth, clashing with the Soviet regime. From its side, the government manages this tragedy in hiding the actual importance of the problem from its population as well as the world’s. Themes such as science, informations, politics and the truth emerge throughout the story of this nuclear disaster, Furthering these aspects facilitated  our understanding of the current situation.

Fanwork that uses chernobyl graphics assuming a Coronavirus themed series. Source:

Our Chernobyl meeting was carried out over Zoom during quarantine, and, as an introduction, some of us set up a presentation on Covid aspects as well as on the nuclear disaster. Preparation work for our meetings is fundamental as it allows us to have practical reference and to avoid being superficial in dialogues. These outlines are meant to bring up discussions yet they are only starting points: everyone is free to bring up their own contribution and material which can be considered coherent such as videos, articles or interviews. This diversity in contributions is always treasured as it allows to explore the topics we are talking about from different point of views, without settling for the “go to” opinion.

We found ourselves appreciating the value of such chances for dialogue, especially during this historical time. How common is it to binge watch a TV series to move on then to the next one? As well as talking about it superficially with friends?

Bringing up Chernobyl allowed us to go further on current matters and to go beyond narration without being superficial. Now more than ever, we found ourselves needy to understand what is going on in the world around us.

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