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Mediating the Past and Historicizing the Present: The HBO Series Chernobyl (2019) and Its Transnational Audience Responses on IMDb


  • Wei Xu

Summary, in English

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has put the vulnerability of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant under the spotlight. Meanwhile, the remembrance and reflection of the Chernobyl disaster of 1986 has been ongoing in different media among which the HBO mini-series Chernobyl (2019) stands out and resonates transnationally. The existing analysis on Chernobyl mainly focuses on how the streaming series provides authentic depiction of a historical event and takes part in shaping the cultural memory of the Chernobyl disaster. However, the variety of audience responses to the series is scholarly omitted. The thesis takes Chernobyl and its IMDb user reviews as a focal point. This case study aims to discuss the audience reception and interpretation in contemporary cultural dynamics of mediated memories, collective memory, personal memory, and media. Through close reading of selected reviews from May 2019 to January 2023, this research presents how audiences emotionally and critically engage with the series in the process of contextualization, decontextualization, and recontextualization. This study contributes to previous research on the social-cultural contexts in which audiences interpret a mediated historical event on screen as well as a transnational approach to understand how such a disaster is remembered and reflected in the digital age.


Publishing year




Document type

Student publication for Master's degree (two years)


  • Arts and Architecture
  • Cultural Sciences
  • History and Archaeology
  • Languages and Literatures


  • Chernobyl
  • nuclear disaster
  • audience research
  • media and memories
  • cultural memory
  • television drama and history


  • Marie Cronqvist (Dr)