A group of five 18 year olds make a big move to London and they are about to grow up very quickly when the rise of AIDS will shake them to the very core.
Number of Episodes: 5
Episode 1 – September 1981.
Episode 2 – December 1983
Episode 3 – March 1986.
Episode 4 – March 1988.
Episode 5 – November 1991
Spread over five episodes lasting between 45-50 minutes each, a decade in the life of Ritchie Tozer and his friends is explored. When he is eventually free to be true to himself and live life in the manner that he has always wanted. He is gay and doesn’t want to hide that anymore, his sexual awakening comes very quickly as he can experiment with so many other men. Jill Baxter quickly becomes his best friend and she fully knows about his life choices.
Coming together in London as Ritchie and Lydia both aspiring actors, along with Ash Mukherjee the Roscoe Babtunde who let home after his parents found out about his choices with threatening to send him back to Nigeria. Then Colin Morris-Jones from Wales moves in with them after not enjoying the first place that he was living.
All coming from very different backgrounds and now in London feeling free to breakaway. Eventually being allowed to be true to themselves and be free of the families that did not accept them or that they were afraid would not accept them. That always breaks my heart watching and knowing how many people have been cut off and kicked out of families for their sexuality.
It has been 40 years this year since the AIDS outbreak began and being born in 1987 it is not something that I have a massive amount of knowledge about other than the other TV shows and then films that I have seen on the subject. I felt as though highlighting everything these men went through, the lack of knowledge and knowing about what began as a very hushed disease.
The denial felt around this new disease from Ritchie and his friends was one of those frightening moments. Especially when you think about how many young gay men really would not have thought it was anything to be concerned about. Especially when the reports from the US weren’t exactly talked about in the UK. Which again just highlights how horrendous finding anything out about it all. Jill really took it upon herself to try and find out as much as possible, although when at the doctors for an appointment the doctor said it wouldn’t effect her and would not give her any information.
Colin on his trip to New York City manages to get the different newspapers and information for Jill and she really begins to try and help people. Especially as she had been helping a close friend Gregory who was the first she knew personally to suffer from it. Given the lack of knowledge around how it was transmitted the scenes with the rubber gloves and then scrubbing herself in the shower and then the trauma over the cup when he was at the flat one day was how I can imagine a lot of people reacting to finding out someone had been diagnosed with AIDS. Going from HIV+ to AIDS is still not something I fully understand, although I know it is so very different now.
Originally titled The Boys and then Boys before landing with It’s a Sin, something that I like about this fact is that it makes sense because it is mentioned quite a lot about all of these boys that were dying and left alone to die. Being ripped away from friends when family didn’t want to know them anymore.
The performances are truly outstanding. Seriously outstanding, I don’t think anything will be able to compete with this in 2021 when it comes to a limited series. This really does have everything and representation for all different backgrounds was something that I totally loved. I really wasn’t expecting to get such an amazing female character either which was a lovely bonus with Lydia West on another level as Jill. I really felt her performance was amazing and this should more than be a breakout role for her. Olly Alexander is infectious and daring as Ritchie who you totally love right from the start. He is just perfect. Truly perfect and beautiful, with his final scene of no regrets ripping my heart fully out of my chest. That was another level of acting.
Omari Douglas is utterly amazing as Roscoe bringing so much sass and charisma to each and every episode, every single time he is on screen is a true joy. Nathaniel Curtis was the same as Ash, with an amazing intensity to his performance. Callum Scott Howells in his first ever role was another to add to how fantastic the cast all were together, dealing with some very tough scenes. Neil Patrick Harris and Stephen Fry taking on small roles was something that I felt was very good casting considering both have been openly gay and working on so many amazing TY shows and in film. Keeley Hawes and Shaun Dooley as Ritchie’s parents were fantastic as well, something that you won’t really appreciate until the final episode, when the reactions were not what I expected from the characters.
The emotional nature of the show is truly incredible, as one second you could be laughing at a small moment and then the next crying your eyes out. I certainly cried a few times and then sobbed at the end. Even though I knew what was coming by the final episode it didn’t make it any less sad, not just because of the character in a TV show but for all the men who died and were lied about. For all of those denied a full life because they were not given the best medical treatment when they needed it and for those who’s families betrayed them by taking them back home.
A truly important TV show to watch and see how badly the AIDS outbreak was handled and how many amazing young men were cheated of a long life. The discrimination that follows it and how the stigma should really be very different now, but this is not something that should ever be forgotten.