HBO's Chernobyl Creator Craig Mazin Explains Why They Told The Story "Backwards"

HBO's Chernobyl miniseries finale aired Monday night and it ended in a place that most viewers may not have expected when they sat down to watch the series. Chernobyl ended, more or less, at the beginning of the story, going back to show what happened the night of the nuclear reactor's explosion. As the series had progressed from explosion forward from the series' first episode, it seemed like an unusual choice but for creator Craig Mazin there was a very good reason to end at the beginning: context.

Speaking with Vox about the series, Mazin explained that it must made more sense to him to tell the story in a backwards fashion, letting audiences see the horror, tragedy, and impact of the disaster before breaking down how it all came to pass, and the decisions people made that got them there.

"I just decided to do everything backward, because I’m a backward kind of guy," Mazin said. "The normal thing would have been to start [the series] with the day of and show people, meet them, get to have them come to work and laugh about their night before. And then show them begin a test, and it all goes wrong, and you end with an explosion. And that would have been episode one.

I thought, eh, let’s start with the explosion and go from there. It’s just more interesting to me, and also, I’m not sure I’m gonna really care about these people, what they’re doing, and the decisions they’re making, if I don’t have the context for it, which is this disaster."

He then went on to explained that by going back to the beginning with the finale, it hopefully would prompt people truly examine the disaster -- and perhaps learn from it.

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"So this is an unraveling. It is in part a courtroom drama, but it’s also a scientific inquiry," he said. "And I wanted people to see that these things don’t happen because God willed it. It doesn’t happen because of bad luck. It doesn’t happen because you were doomed, or because of fate. It happens because of science. Facts. And if it happens because of science, that means if we pay attention to science, we can avoid it happening."

What did you think about Chernobyl telling its story "backwards"? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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