Look, I get it. Your Netflix watchlist is full. You don't have time for another "must-watch" TV show. Whether it's Better Caul Saul, Ozark, The Witcher or Bridgerton, there's too much good stuff out there. Let me tell you right now: you need to make room for this show.
It's a Sin from Russell T. Davies, best known for Doctor Who and A Very English Scandal, focuses on the daily lives of a group of friends during the HIV / AIDS crisis. That topic manner might immediately put you off due to its uncomfortable nature. Don't let it. It's a Sin is a compelling character piece like no other. I'm not trying to be hyperbolic – it's that good. And it's important that more people come to understand just what happened and how many gay men it affected.
Starting in London in 1981, we follow the loveable Ritchie Tozer (played by Olly Alexander) as he forms friendships with like-minded people, living out their youth. Everything about it is entirely relatable. Attending parties on a nightly basis, snogging someone for the hell of it and generally trying to get a career off the ground. All of this takes place among the looming fear of HIV / AIDS in the backdrop.
Without giving away too much, Ritchie denies the existence of the crisis while others like Colin, a sweet Welsh lad, encounter the effects from colleagues first-hand. We then get the other end of the spectrum from Lydia West's Jill Baxter, an aids activist who becomes more entangled with the issue, seeing just how this hideous disease not only affected people physically but mentally.
Over the next decade, we see how the epidemic plays out, dipping in and out of the gang's lives. It's a sporadically harrowing watch but an important one. In little over a month of release, It's a Sin accumulated close to 19 million views on All 4 (opens in new tab) (the original streaming platform it debuted), earning itself the accolades of "the streaming service’s biggest ever instant box set and the most binged to date". Furthermore, HIV tests at the Terrence Higgins Trust (opens in new tab) more than tripled when compared to its previous biggest day, following the show's conclusion.
That takes some doing. It's a Sin is something special, I truly believe that. The impact that the five-part miniseries created was one of the biggest talking points of 2021. Countless awards for the cast and crew have been awarded with more likely on the way – including the British Academy Television Awards, due to take place in May 2022.
There's something astoundingly real, raw and truly remarkable about these characters. As someone who was fortunate enough to not have lived through this horrendous time, I can't imagine the constant anxiety and anguish these people went through, simply from being gay. All I can say is that if you watch one show this year, make sure it's this one.
It's a Sin stars Olly Alexander, Lydia West, Callum Scott Howells, Omari Douglas, Nathaniel Curtis, Keeley Hawes and Neil Patrick Harris. The full series will be available to stream from April 20th on Netflix in the UK, or it can alternatively be found on HBO Max in the US.
To find out more about HIV, head to the Terrence Higgins Trust (opens in new tab) website for further information.