Russell T Davies is the man behind new Channel 4 five-part show on what it was like for gay men growing up in the 80s during the AIDS crisis.
The clever thing Davies has done here is focus on representation. Every character in the show is gay in real life.
After 30 years of remembering the things he witnessed, Davies decides to put it into action to spread awareness.
“I looked away for years. Finally I have put AIDS at the centre of a drama.”Russell T Davies
The drama, set in London, surrounds a young group of men dealing with their sexual identities and the problems that would bring for their family lives.
They are also up against the new ‘mystery illness’ that allowed the media and doctors to target just gay men.
As times have moved on and the world is more educated, it is known that it affects anyone.
Davies (who was 18 in 1981) and his actors do a remarkable job at showing how gay people were treated in those times.
It is such an accurate representation from Davies to put what he witnessed himself into practice to enlighten others in this modern society.
It brings hope that Britain has slightly moved past the discrimination shown throughout the show despite homophobia still being a massive problem in this country and the rest of the world.
Homophobic slurs are embedded in British conversation, which by watching would hopefully make people more educated and aware of gay history and therefore stop using these slurs.
Despite the sadness in the show, the culture shown from the 80s through the music and clothes is another layer added to it. This would be good for people wanting to feel some nostalgia.
It is definitely a show anyone over 18 can watch, it is full of emotions- tears yes but also laughter because the characters add a comical side to it even when they are faced with struggles.
It portrays a variety of social problems that sadly still exist today including homophobia and police brutality.
Ritchie (Olly Alexander) has just left his parents (Shaun Dooley and Keeley Hawes) home on the Isle of Wight to study in London.
Keeley Hawes’ character range is incredible, her roles are always given justice. However, in this she does an excellent job of making the audience sympathise with her but at the same time feel so angry at her.
Ritchie then meets Jill (Lydia West) and Ash (Nathaniel Curtis).
Jill is based on one of Davies’ oldest friends, making her character all the more special. She plays Jill’s mother in the show.
Roscoe (Omari Douglas) is forced to run away from his religious family who want to send him to Nigeria. His sister gives him money to help as she makes it clear to him he will be brutally tortured for this.
Colin (Callum Scott Howells) works at a tailor’s shop. He is shy and innocent to this world of partying that he is introduced to when he randomly meets the rest of the gang at the local pub one night.
The friends all move into a flat together they like to call the “Pink Palace” where they have parties almost every night.
Due to how little people (including medical staff and government officials) knew about HIV and AIDS at this time, it unfortunately led to even more isolation and discrimination for gay men particularly.
From families burning all their son’s belongings after their deaths (completely erasing their existence) to locking one in a hospital room by law shows this.
Many had isolated funerals late at night and sorting a funeral deemed difficult as many refused to do a service for them due to fear of contamination.
As the news begins to cover this mystery illness more, Ritchie is seen to be completely in denial and trying to convince his friends of the same.
Due to the lack of information, it would be easy for one to believe that this was just another attempt at encouraging the wider public to dismiss gay people, as Ritchie does.
Jill is very much like the glue who holds the boys together, she is devoted to charity and to finding out as much as she can about what is causing all of these males to die.
She would even visit men who had no family by their hospital bedsides for obvious reasons, showing a true angelic side to this character.
Many of the boys and men who contracted AIDS would hide this from their families for as long as they could because most of them were not open to them about their sexuality.
It can be argued that if this were an illness killing a community of heterosexuals, there would have been medicines to help within weeks.
Due to the stigma it had, authorities failed to research or even question if it could affect others.
Although the show is indeed a heartbreaking watch, it is a must watch. Shows and films representing the true history and what these people had to go through are rarely shown which leads to people’s ignorance.
It highlights so much importance that is often not taught in British schools or seen on television.
Davies does a wonderful job of educating the audience with this informative show. He has a piece on The Guardian where he talks about growing up during this. Like the show, it is sad but a really well written piece.
‘It’s A Sin’ is available for free on 4oD, Sky Go and On Demand.
Featured image credit: Metro