Years and Years, that was just two years ago. One would have thought that Russell T. Davies (Doctor Who, Banana) would rest a little before concocting us a new masterpiece. It was not knowing him well. He, therefore, reiterates with It’s A Sin, a five-part drama broadcast on Channel 4 that follows a group of LGBTQ + friends and allies facing the arrival of AIDS in their lifestyle, combining sex, partying, and personal ambitions.
We follow Olly Alexander, singer of the group Years and Years, who finds here a role to his excess, that of Ritchie, a young gay newcomer to London. From the first seconds, it becomes our prism for the next five episodes. He will experience the liberation that the discovery of his sexuality allows, he will form around him a flamboyant community and will see it decompose in the face of the threat of AIDS.
From Years and Years (the series this time), we also find Lydia West here playing Jill, a young actress in the making who will carry as banner solidarity and generosity in the face of adversity. If her journey is little explored, it is because she devotes herself almost entirely to her friends, those who laugh and dance as well as those who struggle and die.
Years and years, again. It’s A Sin does not pierce the veil of the future, but focuses on a decisive decade for the gay community in particular. Gradually, the party that characterizes the group of friends turns black as AIDS emerges and takes hold in common opinion as a punitive disease for dissolute sex life. It is therefore extremely interesting and relevant to show that these prejudices are not limited only to heterosexuals and to the somewhat bigoted media, but have long had trouble with the community itself.
It’s A Sin is a confrontation of looks on the same question. Ritchie is the catalyst, he who advocates a life without constraints in front of a dumbfounded spectator (the great pedagogical scene in episode 2), he who shamefully hides his condition from his loved ones, he who finds himself back to the wall and his family in the last episode. This then adds even more complexity to his approach when his mother (masterful Keeley Hawes) tries to get around the issue and sort out what she sees as a simple problem in her way. His relentlessness is overwhelming as we know, we, but also the LGBTQ + characters on screen, of the dire and inescapable fate that awaits his son.
But Russell T. Davis pulls off a real magic trick: to turn a serious subject into an optimistic (or at least positive) series in which the real come to intrude little by little. Of course, illness and death are components that increasingly gray the episodes, but there is always hope, a dance, a part of the legs in the air to show us that behind, it lives. This is mainly due to this band and its colorful personalities (Roscoe, this queen) carrying essential light in that darkness. In this, the last sequence, which therefore follows a tragedy for them, stands out as a ray of sunshine, a bridge to the future. And it’s beautiful.
It’s A Sin has everything to be great and it is. From music to directing, from actors to writing, it is above all a reminder that you need joy in misfortune, that you need friends in difficulty, that you need series to tell. It’s an incredible fictional gesture, one that brandishes and leaves you with a heavy heart, but better.
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