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  • Writer's pictureDana Piccoli

6 big reasons why "It's a Sin" is must-see LGBTQ TV

Russell T Davies has been putting queer characters front and center in his works since the mid-90s. His groundbreaking series Queer As Folk debuted in 1998 in the UK, soon to be followed by a US version, which opened the doors for shows like The L Word and created a space where LGBTQ characters were allowed to be something other than sacrificial lambs at the hands of well-established tropes. Like Queer as Folk, Davies' new show It's a Sin centers on the lives of a group of young gay men (and one straight woman) in London. However, with It's a Sin, we step back in time to the early 80s when AIDS was merely a whisper on the lips of the LGBTQ community in London. We meet Ritchie Tozer (Olly Alexander), a University-bound student who dumps his law studies to become an actor; Roscoe Babatunde (Omari Douglas), who flees his family's plan to send him back to Nigeria for conversion therapy; and Colin Morris-Jones (Callum Scott Howells), a mild-mannered Welshman and tailor's apprentice, who all collide when they move to the city and discover the gay-scene. While there, they befriend Jill (Lydia West), a straight woman and actor who begins delving into this mysterious illness that seems to be affecting the gay-men of London and abroad. There are also a number of wonderful supporting characters you will fall in love with, like Ash Mukherjee (Nathaniel Curtis), Henry Coltrane (Neil Patrick Harris), and Gregory Finch (David Carlyle).

Majority queer ensemble shows are still a rarity, and when one is as good as It's a Sin, it should definitely be on your must-see list. Here are reasons why you should check out It's a Sin on HBO Max asap.

The series finds a delicate balance between moments of joy and pain. There were many times while watching It's a Sin that I found myself laughing out loud or smiling from ear to ear, only to be in tears a scene or two later.

It's a stark reminder of our shared history as queer people. The AIDS crisis decimated the LGBTQ community in the 80s and 90s. We lost nearly an entire generation of queer culture, and It's a Sin shows just how little people knew at the time and how fear of the virus overshadowed the suffering so many endured. Davis doesn't pull away from the realities of the time and tells the stories of those who fought bravely to save themselves and their friends.

Lydia West as Jill and Keeley Hawes as Valerie. Source: Channel 4

Keeley Hawes and Lydia West are incredible. Queer fans may know actor Keeley Hawes best from her role as Kitty Butler in the Tipping the Velvet mini-series, but Hawes has been a fixture on British television since the late-80s. As Richie's mother Valerie, she pulls out all the stops late in the series in a performance that is sure to score her a BAFTA nomination. West plays Jill, the doting straight friend of the group who dedicates much of her life to bringing awareness to HIV and AIDS. West is outstanding in the role of a loving young woman trying to keep things steady as the ground beneath her and her friends begins to shift.

The 80s new wave soundtrack is a celebration. Pet Shop Boys. Erasure. Blondie. Culture Club. It's a Sin uses the time period's music brilliantly.

Omari Douglas as Roscoe Babatunde. Source: Channel 4

Davies specifically sought out queer actors for the queer roles. While this remains a controversial opinion to some, Davies is a big proponent of LGBTQ actors playing LGBTQ roles. The major queer roles (and some of the straight roles as well) are played by out LGBTQ actors.

It's just damn good television. The series may only have five-episodes, but it carries a gravitas that stays with you long after the credits roll.

It's a Sin is available on Channel 4 in the UK and HBO Max in the US.

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