Inside the nuclear-attack TV movie that blew away Super Bowl ratings

A screenshot from “Television Event,” a documentary about the making of the blockbuster 1983 nuclear-attack TV movie “The Day After.”

Forty years ago, Americans were so on edge about the possibility of nuclear war that a TV movie about a catastrophic nuclear strike on Middle America drew millions more viewers than the Super Bowl that year.

“The Day After,” a harrowing and graphic account of nuclear annihilation broadcast on ABC in November of 1983, drew an audience of roughly 100 million Americans, making it the most-watched TV movie in U.S. history.

For a look back at the making of this remarkable film, and the profound impact it had on the American people and U.S. political leaders at the time, don’t miss award-winning filmmaker Jeff Daniels’s riveting documentary Television Event.

Television Event is now streaming on Kanopy through universities and public libraries, and is available for educational use through MEF on other digital platforms.

At once darkly funny and deadly serious, Television Event is an invaluable resource for opening up dialogue about the escalating threat of nuclear war today¹ – ideal for courses ranging from American history, political science, and political communication to cultural studies, media studies, and media production.

1. “A moment of historic danger: It is still 90 seconds to midnight,” Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, January 23, 2024.





“A blast. Witty, moving, and engaging.”
The Hollywood Reporter

“Absolutely riveting, highly entertaining … oddly funny … a wild ride.”
Deadline Hollywood

“Entertaining … [Full of] vivid inside storytellers”

“As entertaining as it is profound … a gem of an historical document.”
Hammer to Nail

“Smartly structured … a celebration of art.”
The Moveable Fest

“Suburb … highly comedic … its impact truly hits home.”
Pop Matters

“Engrossing and profound … Takeaway – the power of art is real.”
Screen Radar

“9/10. Focused and honest. A riveting study of a landmark film.”