(No spoilers included in this review)
Get your Sinitta and 5 Star albums of feel-good music at the ready because if you haven’t already binged watched Russell T Davies new Channel 4 drama, It’s A Sin, then brace yourselves for grim viewing.
Having seen the advert teasers and the first show on Friday 22nd January that doesn’t leave you in a good place after the show, then I can tell you that it only gets worse.
The ’80s were not great times for the gay community and Russell manages to pick up the fear so well and quickly too. The accomplished writings of Russell are there from the start and the show bounces with an occasional break in the fourth wall with the view.
Thankfully these are very brief but important and hammer out almost a whole programs worth of what was going on in around 3 minutes as to some peoples perceptions of HIV and AIDS and what was to come played out. Our main character Ritchie Tozer (Olly Alexander) does I have to say grate on you in this part but then again this is 1981 and with some 40 passing years and hindsight it all becomes relative.
There is no sugar coating what the AIDS crisis was from the start of the show and the experiences so many had in the real world in the ’80s, characters dropped like flies. In Friday’s episode, the lovable Henry (Neil Patrick Harris) who you instantly warmed too is killed off by the virus in the bleakest of ways. His boyfriend “goes home” and the crying starts. Russell is a dab hand at writing tear jerkers. I don’t think there are many out there who can say they didn’t cry watching Dr Who where the Dr and Rose were parted. Well, tissues at the ready because worse is to come.
And it does. Admittedly there are some funny bits and if you pay attention to the finer details you’ll howl laughing at the disgust the Tozer gave when the infamous AIDS TV advert aired. Instead, they click it over to Michael Barrymore’s Strike It Lucky. “Oh I like him,” says Valerie (Keeley Hawes). And Keeley really does shine throughout to the point where you are screaming at her. The meek and mild mother of two suddenly becomes emboldened when she discovers the grim news. And then goes on to be a total bitch.
But one mustn’t single out the actors because everyone plays a vital part in this gripping drama of six friends and their peripheral groups in dark times. But it is Jill (Lydia West) who has the hardest of times throughout the 5 episodes. The only female within the group and the one watching all of those around her fall to a virus or living in fear of it.
The last episode ends with all 6 friends together in a flashback of happier times. And it’s this ending that sets you off. It combines the feel-good with what was and might have been.
So grab your best friends, the ’80s feel-good CDs and a box of tissues. It’s hard viewing. Just don’t watch this on your own.