It’s a Sin Review

Liam Coates

Image: Channel 4

“It’s a Sin” will mash your emotions up like a potato and tug your heartstrings along a cheese grater. Makes a delicious meal then, but it’s heavy going. Do with that what you will, but it gets a hearty recommendation from me.

Tackling the weighty topic of AIDS didn’t have to be this charming or sexy, but “It’s a Sin” pulls off both the heart-breaking moments and the lighter ones with grace. Not much is left to the imagination however, there’s plenty of nudity. Flesh-fearers steer clear.

Set in London in the 1980s, it follows an eclectic bunch of young gay people charting their unusual courses through life together, while the shadow of AIDS looms overhead.

It’s not all doom and gloom though, these are fun, fascinating characters with a spring in their step and big ambitions. They’re interesting to watch and you’ll get attached.

And then the show will heartlessly tear chunks from you like a seagull rips apart a stolen fish and chips.

The current seemingly-eternal pandemic has a lot of parallels with the shows’ themes. Misinformation is rife, and people scramble for answers while vast numbers die. The difference then was the disdainful way the State treated HIV-positive people while trying to sweep the epidemic under the carpet.

The callousness with which society and the State treated people with AIDS is the standout thing.

Families resorted to a toxic blame game – the sense of shame that their sons had been ‘dirty’ is palpable. Hospital staff locked men away alone in rooms to die. Police brutally beat peaceful protestors calling for AIDS funding. Onlookers shrugged, they were ‘benders’ after all – they had it coming.

The cast do a jolly good job overall, with only one American fly in the ointment – Neil Patrick Harris. Now, he’s an excellent actor, but his English accent leans too much on the tea-sippingly posh side of things. Sounded a bit like a caricature.

In fact, his inclusion seemed odd to me, why cast a lone middle-aged American in a British show about young people? Turns out HBO’s condition for airing the show in the US was that it contains a well-known American. In goes one Neil Patrick Harris then, fresh to order.

“It’s a Sin” moves swiftly along because of its short five-episode run, but despite that, you’ll feel the urge to slap quite a few people through the screen. You’ll want to hug many more though (Covid-friendly air hugs.)

How intoxicating to see a show bravely go where few would dare and tackle a taboo topic with such raw honesty. The only sin here would be to miss this gem.

It’s a Sin is streaming now on All 4.