‘It’s A Sin’ is a brand-new limited series on Channel 4, written and created by Russell T. Davies. It follows a group of gay friends through the HIV/AIDS epidemic in 1980s London. The show will teach you a lot; it will make you laugh, it will make you smile, it will make you think, and it will make you cry, a lot. You can catch all five episodes on All 4 now.
Youtube video courtesy of @Channel 4
Here’s four reasons why you should watch ‘It’s A Sin’:
1. Lovable Characters
Firstly we have the show’s main character Ritchie (played by Olly Alexander- frontman of Years and Years); a closeted small-town boy finding his feet in London and exploring his sexuality. We get to see him live it up at parties, performing in pubs with his best friend Jill and having lots and lots of sex. Jill (played by Lydia West) is an inspiring character that represents the best of the LGBTQA+ allies. She supports her loved ones through sickness, even when she believes that she is putting her own health at risk, and tries her best to educate and advocate. Then there’s Colin (played by Callum Scott Howells), a sweetheart who provides a stark contrast to the other more promiscuous members of the group. There are so many other fantastic lifelike characters in the show but I won’t give it all away now.
2. Realistic (man on man) Sex
Although it may be awkward to watch explicit sex with your parents (trust me, I know from experience), the realistic gay sex we see in ‘It’s A Sin’ is brilliant. Not only do we see gay sex unapologetically occur (a lot) on national TV, but it’s not romanticised either. In the very first sex-scene, we are exposed to the sometimes not-so-glamorous sides of sex (*cough* anal hygiene *cough*). In a country where all sex education, especially gay sex education, is shoddy to say the least, it is a breath of fresh air to see sex portrayed as it really is: sometimes funny, sometimes erotic, sometimes awkward, sometimes almost perfect, but always natural.
3. Nathaniel Hall
Youtube video courtesy of @Lorraine
Nathaniel Hall plays the part of Donald in ‘It’s a Sin’ but in real life, he is an HIV advocate who is himself HIV positive. Hall contracted HIV at just 16 years old after his first sexual experience, and kept it a secret from his family for 15 years, only telling a few close friends and partners. Nathaniel felt the need to keep his diagnosis to himself due to the stigma and shame surrounding the virus that is so brilliantly explored in ‘It’s A Sin’. Nathaniel knows now that since his HIV is at an undetectable level, he can expect to live to be old and grey and even have unprotected sex without passing on the virus, but when he was 16, he was told his life expectancy was just another 37 years ). Hall even has his own stage show and a book about his experience with HIV- both titled ‘First Time’. I personally cannot wait to get my hands on the book.
4. It’s so Important
I learnt so much about the London HIV epidemic from this limited series. It’s also great to see that it has inspired a huge surge in HIV testing during February. While the previous record of tests ordered in one day stood at 2,800, as of Monday 1st of February, a total of 8,200 tests were ordered. Testing for HIV saves lives, and there are so many treatments available now that mean people that are HIV-positive can live long and healthy lives just like Nathaniel. However, people cannot start treatment if they don’t know that they are positive, so anyone who is sexually active should get tested regularly. It’s free, it’s fast, and, unlike the situation in the 80s, it saves lives. UNAIDS is working towards ending HIV/AIDS by 2030 and the awareness that shows like ‘It’s A Sin’ are bringing to the issue are an essential part of reaching this goal.
Words By: Alice Colton
Edited By: Rosie Harkin-Adams