‘Sin’ Is In – Excavating 80s Queer Culture

Written by | Screen, The Lens

Perspective is a powerful window through time. We look back at the past with a mixture of whimsy, wistfulness, and wonder. If only we could send a message to our younger selves – via text, fax or carrier pigeon – to warn against the worst to come and yet simultaneously embrace the joy of naiveté.

Such is the captivating dichotomy of It’s a Sin, the new series from Russell T. Davies. Fans know Davies’ work from his provocative original version of Queer as Folk, but now he is illuminating an era even further in our homo history, the 1980s.

The trailer for It’s a Sin begins with an innocent question: “Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?” The query is hissed by a retro Karen, seething with a coiffed, blonde mane and judgment to spare. Her dialogue launches into a montage of LGBTQ+ diversity. The respondents express a wide array of aspirations, from vast riches to expansive knowledge to enduring happiness.

But then life gets in the way.

The specter of the AIDS crisis invades this time capsule of London queer existence. The younger cadre of characters refuses to believe that a disease could possibly target gay men. They party and play with abandon, succumbing to the inevitability of the plight that rapidly envelops them.

It’s a Sin could not be any timelier. The narrative evokes the heartbreak of a burgeoning epidemic and the hopefulness of our collective fight against it. The intergenerational dynamic of the cast is vibrant, both on-screen and off. To announce the release of the trailer, millennial star Olly Alexander tweeted, “THE TRAILER IS HERE !! IM SO EXCITED !! BOYS ! DRAMA ! SEX ! HAIR!”

In contrast, legendary performer Stephen Fry shared the same trailer on his Twitter feed with a sense of restrained exclamation. “Inexpressibly proud” he tweeted.

The Gen X meat in the Sin sandwich is the iconic Neil Patrick Harris, who battled our current pandemic alongside his entire family back when COVID was in its first wave of devastation.

Drawing from three generations of gay voices gives the new series an operatic air of awareness. When we are young, we feel invincible; when we mature, we assume responsibility; and when we achieve true wisdom, we strive to impart it to others. It’s a Sin aligns these three states of consciousness brilliantly and harmoniously.




Last modified: December 29, 2020