It's a Sin: It's a Sin
February 4, 2021 4:45 AM - Season 1 (Full Season) - Subscribe

Drama from Russell T Davies about five friends living and loving in the shadow of AIDS.

This has aired in the UK, I think it will be in the US in a couple of weeks. Just 5 episodes, and most people seem to have ended up binging on them so I figured there should just be one thread.
posted by chill (11 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I finished watching this a few days ago and don't feel like I've fully digested it yet. There's much that could be said about it. There's much that already has been said about it and much praise (100% on Rotten Tomatoes), so it sort of feels redundant to add much more.

But one thing I wanted to call out was that what seemed to grip me the most was the fact that I liked the characters, I believed in them, and I wanted to spend more time with them. Given the subject matter I almost didn't want to find out what happened next, but it felt like you just had to stay on the journey with them.

Few shows manage to punch me in the gut, but this broke me several times (including *that* scene on the prom towards the very end).

I've more digesting to do.
posted by chill at 4:56 AM on February 4, 2021 [3 favorites]

Like chill, I am still digesting this deeply affecting series.

One of the things that has struck me initially is the different nature of societal response to an illness which has a disproportionate impact on certain groups. Would our development of a covid vaccine have been as swift if COVID “only” affected gay men? As it is, there are commentators (certainly in the UK) who dismiss COVID in part on the basis that it affects “only” the old, the already ill, the vulnerable - and that’s before we get to the relative silence around the effects on Black people and those from Asian ethnic groups.

Which is to say that It’s a Sin illuminates not only the past, but the present.
posted by JJZByBffqU at 3:39 AM on February 5, 2021 [5 favorites]

All 5 episodes will be released on HBO in the U.S. on Feb 18.
posted by mediareport at 5:36 AM on February 8, 2021 [1 favorite]

But one thing I wanted to call out was that what seemed to grip me the most was the fact that I liked the characters, I believed in them, and I wanted to spend more time with them

On the one hand the show is about the broad subject of AIDS in the UK during the 1980s - on the other it is very specifically about Ritchie, Ash, Roscoe, Colin, Jill and the rest. We get only 5 episodes to introduce everybody and tell their story over several years - but they have to also be emblematic of the whole community. Contrast that with shows like This Life which also focussed on a group of flatmates (and was influenced by Russel T Davie's earlier Queer as Folk) - but which didn't have that wider storytelling burden. I think Davies did an amazing job of writing within those constraints.

Some amazing scenes throughout - but Keeley Hawes's performance throughout the entire final episode was particularly incredible. There is an interesting theme about how the brutal reality of AIDS forced families, colleagues, politicians and others, to talk about homosexuality and pave the way for its greater acceptance.

I thought the show's use of music was interesting: for example the Pet Shop Boys' song that gives us its title has lyrics with a precise and dark thematic link with Ritchie's story: it could be him speaking. Yet it was just another pop hit to the wider audience in the UK - part of a decade of great by gay artists who were not - or could not be - out about their sexuality. I am approximately the same age as the characters - enough to laugh at the use of "hooked on Classics" to underscore the joyous debauchery of the first episode - or of Carmel's "More More More" as a suitable cover for Richie and Jill to select to perform together. The music highlights that there are 2 stories here: one being the fashions, events and attitudes of the 1980s that anybody who were there will remember: a time of gaudy colours representing the energy of the present, chintzy decoration representing the narrow-mindedness of the past and the grittiness of inner city flats. The other story is - one you had to be there for: one of the flatmates or their friends, members of their families, and hospital workers.
posted by rongorongo at 11:28 PM on February 9, 2021 [4 favorites]

TLDR: Shame is the counterpart of Pride.
posted by rongorongo at 1:17 AM on February 10, 2021

I've just watched the last ep and I'm sure will also be thinking about it for a while to come.

I've just come away thinking it's such. brilliant. writing. As others have said, it was a huge, important historical story told in such a way that it felt as if it was about the characters, that you just wanted to hang out with them and get to know them and be part of their gang. It's a sign of great writing if you get a series where you know what the final outcome is going to be - someone as full of life and energy as Ritchie in the opening episode of a drama about HIV/AIDS is sure to die by the close of it. But that mattered not one whit because you wanted to feel and enjoy all those relationships unfolding each episode regardless.

I was deeply touched and fascinated by the fact that Ritchie's dad actually seemed to have a more straightforward, compassionate reaction to his illness than his mum did. Based on what we'd previously seen of them, and I guess a little prejudice of my own, I'd vaguely assumed his dad would be the one who responded with bigotry or horror, and his mum with love. Whereas RTD used his mum to explore the complexity, anger, alienation, poor judgement that must have happened so many times in this scenario.

I love that the character of Jill is based on RTD's friend Jill whose stories of all the friends she lost made up the core of the show. And that the real Jill plays fictional Jill's mum. But knowing that also makes it so much more poignant to think of all those real Ritchies and Colins who right now should be greying, middle-aged, contented men, maybe married to the loves of their lives at last.
posted by penguin pie at 3:42 PM on February 17, 2021 [4 favorites]

In Canada, at least, this is coming to Amazon Prime on February 19th.
posted by urbanlenny at 4:34 PM on February 17, 2021 [1 favorite]

But knowing that also makes it so much more poignant to think of all those real Ritchies and Colins who right now should be greying, middle-aged, contented men, maybe married to the loves of their lives at last.

Stephen Fry - who plays middle aged Arthur Garrison - is also from the generation who would have been in their 20s at the time and hence lived through all this. It seems like that kind of casting choice we deliberate.
posted by rongorongo at 1:30 AM on February 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

Overall, I liked the show. The period details were excellent. The soundtrack was wonderful. Loved Jill and Colin. But boy did Ritchie rub me up the wrong way. RTD loves writing loathsome gay men, which is fine - TV is filled with loathsome straight men. I don't need to like characters to enjoy a show or even empathise with them, but nice moments with Ritchie were so few and far between. Says something that his most beautiful moment - the ballet for a straight dude he went to high school with - wasn't saved for one of his closest friends.

Five episodes stretching over a decade of time, there were lots of shortcuts and that felt like a pity to me. I wanted to understand why Ritchie thought voting for Maggie was the right thing to do, while Roscoe's entire plot was getting him to the opportunity of pissing in Maggie's coffee pot.

I think Jill vs Ritchie's mum in the finale was probably the highlight for me. A knotty, complicated relationship that was far richer than the other mostly surface relationships across the other episodes.
posted by crossoverman at 6:07 PM on February 21, 2021

I thought it was heartbreaking and brilliant.
posted by Klipspringer at 1:46 AM on February 26, 2021 [3 favorites]

Great Twitter thread on a post-It’s A Sin reading list.
posted by larrybob at 2:12 PM on March 10, 2021

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