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On the HBO mini-series Chernobyl. Mark, Erica, and Brian first get into the various degrees of looseness in something’s being “based on a true story.” Does it matter if it’s been changed to be more dramatic? We then consider the show as entertainment: Why do people enjoy witnessing suffering? Why might a drama work (or not) for you?
We also touch on Game of Thrones, The Killing, God Is Dead, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Big Little Lies, Schindler’s List, Vice, Ip Man, and more.
Some of the articles we looked at to prepare:
- “HBO’s Chernobyl Isn’t Just Historical Drama, It’s Straight-Up Horror” by Renaldo Matadeen
- “Top UCLA Doctor Denounces HBO’s “Chernobyl” As Wrong And “Dangerous” by Michael Shellenberger
- “What HBO’s ‘Chernobyl’ Got Right, and What It Got Terribly Wrong” by Masha Gessen
- “What Watching “Misery Porn” Shows Like ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Does To Your Mental Health” by Louisa Ballhaus
- “The Misery Porn of Game of Thrones Isn’t Profound. It’s Just Miserable” by Sam Brooks
- The TV Tropes page for “Based on a True Story”
This episode includes bonus content that you can only hear by supporting the podcast at patreon.com/prettymuchpop.
Our Lucy Lawless interview will be out next week! Thanks to The Partially Examined Life Podcast Network and Open Culture for curating this podcast.
mike tancsa says
I am sure others pointed it out, but the podcast that the writer did REALLY made the viewing experience a lot richer — for me anyways. Listening to the first episode at least I think would help if you want to get a better idea of what he was going for and what inspired him. In your podcast the three of you were speculating a lot and I couldnt help but think many times, “Hey, the answers are out there!”
I was a total fanboy of the series and pre-primed for it. Part of it was the fact that as a Gen-Xer coming of age in the shadow of the cold war, and then going to Europe for the first time in 1989 and noticing small but very creepy things like how in the stores there was no wine for sale from 1986/87… So, the idea of the show grabbed me right away.
Good luck with the new podcast. I have enjoyed many PEL episodes!