Record-breaking 1980s AIDS drama series It's A Sin launches in the US

London, UK - Already a record-breaking hit in the UK, It's A Sin, the drama series about a group of young people living through the AIDS crisis in 1980s London is set to premiere on HBO Max for US audiences.

The It's A Sin cast includes Lydia West (l. bottom), Omari Douglas (l. top), Nathaniel Curtis (r. top), Olly Alexander (r. middle), and Callum Scott Howells (r. bottom).
The It's A Sin cast includes Lydia West (l. bottom), Omari Douglas (l. top), Nathaniel Curtis (r. top), Olly Alexander (r. middle), and Callum Scott Howells (r. bottom).  © Instagram/Screenshot/@ollyyears

The heartfelt mini-series by Queer As Folk creator Russell T. Davies follows a group of friends in 1980s London amid the traumatic decade of the AIDS crisis.

While they're living their life to the fullest in the British capital – party nights, drunken excesses, and wild sex included – a mysterious "gay cancer" is casting a shadow over their innocent, young lives.

Olly Alexander, the Years & Years frontman, takes the lead as 18-year-old Ritchie Tozer, who leaves his family behind on the Isle of Wight in search of fame and success in the big city.

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He is joined by newcomers Omari Douglas as Roscoe Babatunde, Callum Scott Howells as Colin Morris-Jones, Lydia West as Jill Baxter, and Nathaniel Curtis as Ash Mukherjee.

How I Met Your Mother icon Neil Patrick Harris stars as an older gay man who becomes a father figure and mentor to a young man who is finally embracing his sexuality.

The writer's narrative contains auto-biographical elements

Olly Alexander, who plays the main character in It's A Sin, is the lead singer of the British synth-pop band Years & Years.
Olly Alexander, who plays the main character in It's A Sin, is the lead singer of the British synth-pop band Years & Years.  © IMAGO / Hollandse Hoogte

The five-part series is unlike any other, not least because it's a drama dealing with the AIDS crisis, but also because every queer role is cast with a queer actor. It has been celebrated by many for its powerful narrative and talented cast – and most importantly, for bringing queer history to mainstream audiences.

But the show doesn't only highlight how the AIDS epidemic ravaged the community. It also shows LGBTQ+ people enjoying their newfound freedom in London and having a good time.

Creator Davies, who was an 18-year-old student in Manchester at the fictional start of the series in 1981, reportedly wrote It's A Sin from his own memories of the friends he knew who died of AIDS and those who survived.

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"That’s how I remember those people," he told The Hollywood Reporter in an interview.

"I think many of those lives that ended too soon have been remembered with a lot of stigma, a lot of shame and embarrassment, and with a respectful silence over them. But I just wanted to show them living their lives and having a great time."

Watch the official trailer:

The record-breaking show sparked a fourfold increase in HIV tests

The honest portrayal of the HIV/AIDS epidemic struck a cord with viewers across the board, breaking records since it first aired on British network Channel 4. The first episode has become the best-ever drama launch on the British streaming platform, and all five episodes have recently been deemed All4's "most binged new series ever," with over 6.5 million viewers following the show.

Meanwhile, the UK has seen an unprecedented surge of HIV tests ordered following the show's success, as reported by the Gay Times.

"The power of TV to change lives. #ItsASin is @Channel4’s most binged watched new series and honours the heroes of the past – stopping our history being forgotten," the British HIV/AIDS charity Terrence Higgins Trust shared on Twitter.

"It's also led to more people than ever taking action and getting tested during #HIVTestWeek. What a legacy," the tweet concluded.

The show will be available for streaming on HBO Max

The critically-acclaimed drama will make its American debut on HBO Max on February 18.

Cover photo: Instagram/Screenshot/@ollyyears

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