With the Game of Thrones reaching its finale this month, a lot of viewers have been reportedly thinking of cancelling their HBO subscriptions. But not so fast!
HBO, home of critically acclaimed shows such as The Sopranos, The Wire, Six Feet Under and, well, Game of Thrones, has a new miniseries for you which is more than worth keeping your subscription live for: Chernobyl.
Here at the office, some of our colleagues named the show “the best in a decade.” The new HBO miniseries earned the coveted “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes with over 96% approval, is ranked even higher on IMDB, and holds the best User Score on Metacritic. And this is no small achievement.
The nuclear catastrophe has had such a grasping effect on the human psyche since 1986 that it’s hard to count how many books, movies, and video games have been made about (or based upon) the Chernobyl disaster. HBO’s series puts the bar very high.
A drama like no other
The Chernobyl series depicts the aftermath immediately following the explosion of reactor number 4, in the middle of the night on April 26 1984.
Following real-life scientist Valery Legasov (Jared Harris, excellent), Council of ministers’ chairman Boris Shcherbina (Stellan Skarsgârd, faultless) and fictional scientist Ulana Khomyuk (Emily Watson sober and on point) as they deploy all possible resources to protect millions of lives against “something that has never occurred on this planet before” all the while being confronted to Soviet culture of secrecy and over-administrativism.
Show creator Craig Mazin achieves the extraordinary – to deliver a story as faithful to historical events as possible to create masterful tension and drama, and to deliver a message that strikingly resonates with the current zeitgeist.
The effects of Acute Radiation Syndrome on the human body will spin your stomach a couple of times around. Yet, Director Johan Reck’s camera never shies away from the gruesome, but only where and when it’s absolutely needed. It moves with grace and efficiency, staying as close to the people as possible. All the while, the air around them turns into an invisible, silent killer.
Forget about the controversies on how the actors all speak English while every TV set and radio around them sizzles in perfect Russian, or how some windows are plastic when at the time they would have been framed with wood.
Chernobyl is about much more than that (see the podcast below for more). It’s a must-watch. No excuses. Even if your excuse is geo-blocking.
Now, let’s see how you can make sure you won’t miss the miniseries everybody’s talking about.
The issue with geo-blocking
First off, the easy way: Chernobyl airs on Mondays on HBO at 9pm in the USA, and on Sky Atlantic and NOWTV in the UK, every Tuesday night at 9 pm. If you have a subscription with one of those broadcasters and live in the US or the UK, you should be able to watch the show already. And if you’re there and haven’t seen it yet, well, what are you waiting for?
For the rest of the world, the issue is that HBO uses measures of geo-blocking that check your IP to localize you and stop you from accessing its content from certain countries.
No need to panic, though. There’s a simple and effective way to bypass those geoblocking measures.
Using a VPN will allow you to spoof your IP and make it appear as if you are located in the US or the UK.
Whether you reside in a geo-blocked country or are enjoying a well-deserved vacation under the sun and feel like streaming a show about Chernobyl on the beach (to each their own preferences, who are we to judge?), a good VPN is here to help you. Here’s how:
- Unblock HBO restrictions from anywhere: a good VPN typically has servers from a wide range of country locations making it easy to connect to a server from any of those locations before accessing geo-blocked content.
- Avoid ISP monitoring or third-party tracking: since VPNs replace your real IP address, they help you prevent third-parties from monitoring your web activity or linking what you do online to you.
- Prevent intrusive ads: if you consistently use a particular service online, ad agencies are able to use your cookies to push ads that may be of interest in your direction. Using a VPN should ideally limit how much information they have about you.
What are the best VPNs to watch Chernobyl?
1. NordVPN ‣
NordVPN is great for accessing HBO and our top pick among the best VPNs to watch Chernobyl. It is widely popular for offering very low subscription prices, nearly 5,000 US servers, and obfuscated servers.
We thoroughly enjoy this provider’s easy-to-use dedicated apps for every major platform you can think of.
NordVPN also works in countries with internet restrictions like China. Thanks to its unbeatable security features and a huge list of servers, it’s able to unblock any geo-restricted content and let you stream safely and privately, making it the ideal provider for watching Chernobyl regardless of your location.
2. ExpressVPN ‣
If your base connection is not the fastest and you’re looking for speed when it comes to streaming, this is the ideal choice for you.
ExpressVPN unblocks HBO seamlessly and offers unbeatable connection speeds to go with that. It’s more expensive than NordVPN but it offers a ton of features and US/UK servers for accessing regional HBO catalogs. Fortunately, ExpressVPN also works in China.
3. PrivateVPN ‣
PrivateVPN is our third choice for accessing HBO, mostly because despite its smaller network of servers, it’s still very effective for unblocking HBO and streaming Chernobyl online. This VPN also has the right security setup to meet all your privacy needs.
On the whole, VPN services are notorious for dramatically slowing down your internet connection. However, this is not the case with Astrill VPN. In fact, Astrill is one of the fastest VPNs currently available on the market.
With over 320 servers in more than 60 countries, there’s no content you won’t be able to unblock. Aside from great privacy and security, this VPN will let you stream pretty much anything you want by changing your location and securely encrypting your data.
Alternatives to HBO
If you don’t have, don’t want, or can’t buy an HBO subscription to stream Chernobyl, you’re out of options, legally speaking. Apart from waiting for the hypothetical day when rights to the show will be purchased and broadcasted by one of your local TV stations. But this does not mean that you cannot enjoy the show at all.
We have a selection of alternative streaming websites where you may find your most desired show to watch. Just be aware that a lot of those websites finance themselves by using intrusive ads.
Unfortunately, they’re also an occasional source of malware.
If you’re not absolutely certain the update is actually from Adobe, don’t download the Flash updater that some of these websites will offer.
VPN is therefore not an option, but a must, at least when navigating those sites.
You can also visit our torrenting section to find a good torrent tracker that could help you look for your favorite content. While we can’t support illegal means of watching HBO’s Chernobyl miniseries, we also don’t want you to infect your device with malware. If you want to avoid the risk of your ISP tracking you and end up with a heavy fine, use torrents with caution, and always with a VPN turned on.
There’s little that a good VPN service can’t do to help you unblock geo-restricted content like HBO US or UK libraries.
Whether you want to relive one of the darkest pages in our recent history, or simply enjoy a great no-filler thriller, and be able to join the conversations around the coffee maker the next day, each of the VPNs we listed above is here to help.
If we had to choose one, it would be NordVPN because of its reasonable pricing, safety features, and the ability to unblock almost any geo-restricted content.