Image of a Life After: Chernobyl commercial with text 'World premiere... Life After: Chernobyl... Tuesday April 26th'

Life After: Chernobyl – The Mockumentary of the Century???

Life After: Chernobyl, a mockumentary of epic proportions… possibly… I think…

Life After: Chernobyl premiers on Animal Planet on April 26th and I must say… it feel like a mockumentary to me. From the feel of the commercial to the claims inside the commercial, I just do not think this is going to have any real scientific value. I feel like Life After: Chernobyl is just going to be another The Cannibal in the Jungle.


So… A Mockumentary…

So you may not know what a mockumentary is. Well, a mockumentary is a fake documentary made to look like a real documentary. TV executives accomplish this by not disclosing, or poorly disclosing, that the documentary is fictional. They will also use actors in place of actual researchers, use the names of real organizations, and make things like fake news articles.

And honestly, Animal Planet has been pulling stuff like this on viewers for a while now. They make a splashy, interesting, documentary with a veneer of science and then when viewers watch suddenly they’re inundated with a bunch of nonsense… they’re then confused because Animal Planet really doesn’t disclose that the documentary is fake and can’t tell if what they just saw is real or not.
So you guys end up here!
That’s what happened with the mermaid documentaries and that’s what happened with The Cannibal in the Jungle.

Now since this article is being published before the show even airs… I can’t give you facts about it. I can only share my feelings.

And I feel, strongly, that Life After: Chernobyl is going to be a fake documentary mainly stitched together from footage in Animal Planet’s archive. They most likely have a lot of footage to begin with from Jeremy Wade’s more recent visit to Chernobyl… and it’s not hard to take a shot of a deer or a bird out of context and use it in a show on Chernobyl.


What We’re Probably Going To See

From the looks of it, Life After: Chernobyl is going to show us some deer, wolves, horses, catfish, and other critters along with sensational claims that they’ve become mutants / monsters.

That’s probably it… I think Animal Planet is just going to spin this as some kind of zombie radioactive mutant thing.


Science… Sciencey… Science-like…

Did you know, back in 2011, PBS had a documentary on the fauna in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. It appeared on the surface that animals were doing well there… but that’s the thing about radiation… the harm it causes is mostly invisible. So while animal populations look, externally, healthy… they don’t seem to be internally.

When Jeremy Wade of River Monsters, another Animal Planet show, visited Chernobyl to catch a giant catfish… it was later discovered the catfish was half the size it should have been for its age and had a dose of radiation 16 times normal.

And did you know, the Przewalski’s horse was reintroduced to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. The effects of long-term exposure to radiation on these horses is not actually known. Instead, the health of the animals seems to be solely based off of how many are currently alive regardless of each individual horses’ actual physical health.

And well this is really what I’m talking about. Everything we’re talking about is in this grey area of science where we can go “yeah I suppose that isn’t UN-true” and “well I suppose it’s possible”. Everything is lacking in data, everything is poorly researched, you can claim anything and everything because humanity just hasn’t gone into Chernobyl and systematically studied everything that exists there. I just don’t think anything we’ll see in Life After: Chernobyl will be anything new or particularly scientific.

Some Science-ey Resources:


Update 4/27/2016

So Life After Chernobyl premiered last night and it turns out… it is not a mockumentary but just a really bad documentary. I decided to write up a whole new article which you can find here: Life After Chernobyl Documentary / River Monsters Recap

Ultimately there’s little to say about either the River Monsters special 30 Years After Chernobyl or the actual documentary Life After Chernobyl. Neither included any new content or anything of particular interest. Frankly so little happened in both shows that the article I originally wrote (the one you’re reading now) seems ridiculous.

But I feel I was right on the show not being particularly scientific… I think I got that one right.



I will either update this article or write a new article after the show actually airs. Depending on what Animal Planet actually shows us and the claims concerning animals, I may feel the need to rant on how unscientific it all was. Who knows though, Life After: Chernobyl might turn out to be a very nice documentary.

3 thoughts on “Life After: Chernobyl – The Mockumentary of the Century???

  1. I feel I should mention again, Life After Chernobyl is NOT fake. It’s just really dumb and unscientific.
    Just… so dumb.

    1. My husband and I watched it last night on the Discovery channel. And I do agree with you that the two main characters (and I do literally mean characters) were overly dramatic and did make the whole thing seem like a mockumentary. There was some interesting stuff in there but a lot of laughable not scientific stuff as well. Some of the said “science” they were using on the wolves being radioactively aggressive literally made us laugh out loud because it was so ridiculous.

      1. The ‘radioactive wolves’ part was most definitely laugh out loud ridiculous…
        They didn’t even have proof of any abnormal behavior… just a clip of wolves snarling and I’m pretty sure that’s normal behavior…

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