Review: It’s A Sin (2021)

Following his near-future BBC drama Years & Years, Russell T. Davies returns to Channel 4 with It’s A Sin, a stunning and evocative series that spotlights the HIV/AIDS crisis of the 1980s. This is chiefly done through the changing perspectives of three young gay men – Ritchie (Olly Alexander, returning to his acting roots), Roscoe (Omari Douglas) and Colin (Callum Scott Howells) – who come to occupy a sprawling flat (christened the “Pink Palace”) in the heart of the city. The series explores their differing backgrounds, while also tracing the trajectory of their present-day lives as a deadly new “flu” takes hold. The script strikes a fine balance between playful warmth and crushing darkness. An outstanding montage in the first episode, for example, deftly captures the buoyancy of finding ones true self through dance, sex and liberation. Davies handles the subject matter with such delicacy; his skill for capturing humanity and humour are second to none. The consequence of this is that the catastrophic way in which the pandemic rips through lives and communities bears heart-wrenching weight. This is similarly aided by the performances, which are uniformly tremendous. If any were to be singled out, it would be newcomer Howells as Colin and Lydia West as Ritchie’s close friend and ally Jill. The former, in particular, leaves a lasting impression. For some, It’s A Sin will be an uncomfortable and upsetting reminder of the past, while for others it will educate and inform; sparking real debate and conversation. This is undoubtedly an important and powerful television series but the time in history it captures should be – and ultimately is – the focal point.

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