13 Reasons to Watch ‘It’s A Sin’

Revolving around the collective and individual lives of a group of LGBT individuals that come together to form a family- the five part mini-series- ‘It’s a Sin’ is moving and powerful in equal measures. Through its brilliantly scripted narrative, it tells a tale of grit and an indomitable (queer and otherwise) spirit in the face of a looming health crisis.

 It’s an uplifting tale of how an unfolding of crisis brings together a diverse clan irrespective of their outlooks, personalities and, makes them second guess life choices and decisions. While there are umpteen reasons to watch this beautiful show if you haven’t already, we enlist thirteen to include it in your next watch.

1. It’s beyond a binge-watch

Over the past few months, we’ve taken to playing shows mindlessly or resorted to ‘binge-watch’. ‘It’s A Sin’ is much more than either. It’s a mindful watch that gives its viewer a sense of time period it is based in i.e. the eighties, the societal attitudes towards the queer community at that time, and shortcomings faced by them.

2. It has a clever title

I have a thing for shows that have a clever title. And, ‘It’s A Sin’ fits into that bracket snuggly. The show’s title is layered with multiple coded meanings depending on how you see it. It can take on the form of a question, a statement, pronouncement, conclusion, analysis or a critique of the times it was based on.

3. It has a universal appeal

Another highlight about the show is its universal flavor and commonality of emotions across the cultures and geographies. The story could be set anywhere, and yet strike a chord owing to its universal theme at the core.

4. It is a humanitarian drama

Though ‘It’s A Sin’ predominantly features LGBT characters and has a strong LGBT storyline on the surface, deep down it is a humanitarian story at heart – of love, loss, resilience, and coming together at the time of crisis.

5. It makes you uncomfortable in a good way

At the risk of giving you a spoiler, I must warn: the last two episodes won’t be easy to watch. They will make you squirm on your seat, tempt you to press pause or even make you question about certain actions. These two episodes are what I like to call ‘The Black Mirror to your soul.’

6. It’s highlights the importance of allyship

‘It’s A Sin’ highlights what an ally can do for the queer community. In the series, Jill Baxter, played by Lydia West, is that ally. She is the glue that holds the boys together in all times. She’s what a true-blue ally looks like. If an allyship had a face; it would be of hers.

7. It is an indicator of ‘80s

The mini-series is a fleeting study of ‘80s as we know it and ‘80s we are unaware of. It is a multi-faceted account of varied things such as attitudes towards homosexuals in general, and in entertainment industry, barriers to the medical treatment owing to stigma, media coverage of AIDS and much more.

8. It gives ‘Home is where the heart is’ a fresh spin

Home may mean different thing to a straight and a queer person. For a queer person, it can be no less than a hell; a site of suppression of feelings, emotions and true self. The series tries to showcase this difference, especially in the latter episodes when Ritchie Tozer (played by Olly Alexander) makes a difficult decision to return to his birth home.

9. It opens a conversation on ‘family by choice’

Historically, a significant number of queer populations across the world and culture have had tense relations with family. A family doesn’t necessarily translate to a ‘safe space’ for a queer individual. Here’s where the ‘family by choice’ aka extended family steps in. The series opens a conversation on how friends can easily become the family and fill in the emotional gaps unmet by ‘the family by blood.’

10. It has had a social impact

The series not only went to become C4’s most-watched show; it contributed to a significant rise in people requesting an AIDS test. Such was its social impact! According to the Terence Higgins Trust, the series resulted in a ‘four-fold increase’ on HIV testing stats and a significant awareness jump from the previous years.

11. It tells the story humanely

‘It’s A Sin’ doesn’t demonize the disease outbreak. Rather it chronicles the people’s dispositions towards it. Further it digs deeper to unravel ‘the culture of shame and silence’; a queer identifying individual has to go through.

Because of this embedded shame; they’re unable to come out in open and left to lurk in the shadows that often result in unhealthy approaches towards sex to sexual exploitation at the hands of some ‘mostly straight’ or ‘straight in public’ individuals.

12. It doesn’t peddle ‘disease porn’

‘It’s A Sin’ goes beyond the tropes of a disease themed drama. In fact, it maneuvers around it skillfully. In fact, ‘AIDS’ here is the climax that imbues the characters of this show with purpose.

For Jill, it serves as a quest to dismantle the stigma around it and become Florence Nightingale for the sick and suffering. Whereas for Ritchie, it is a reminder of all the happy memories; and coming face to face with the disease with a positive bent of mind.

13. It is a show of our times

‘It’s A Sin’ without a doubt is show of our times. It has multiple moments of losses, grief, and bouncing back from the adversities – stronger than before. It has a halo of hope, reassurance and is a blueprint for navigating through grief with the support of loved ones.

 It tells us not to hold back when required; and also to gather oneself piece by piece – and show a steely resolve when the situation demands. It has a sublime message that when we acknowledge our emotions and fears; true healing begins, as told by Jill to Ritchie’s mother, who was grappling with a façade of self-conceived smokescreen till the end!

Vinay Agrawal