Russel T Davies’ upcoming television drama starring Olly Alexander and Neil Patrick Harris, set to debut in January 2021, follows three young gay men through the 1980s AIDS crisis in the UK. 

Co-produced by the UK’s Channel 4 and HBO Max, the five-part series was created by Russel T Davies as a eulogy for all gay men who lost their lives to the disease and to honour those who survived it. Davies previously created iconic and well-known shows Queer as Folk and Years and Years. Coincidentally, Olly Alexander, vocalist of the band Years & Years, will be the series’ protagonist, Ritchie Tozer. Ritchie is a gay teen, aspiring-actor who moves from his family’s hometown to London in 1981. Olly Alexander feels ‘the luckiest in the world’ to participate in this project because he has been a fan of Davies’ works since secretly watching Queer as Folk at 14, which Alexander says helped him shape his identity as a gay person (The Sun). 

The plot of It’s A Sin is based on Davies’ life experiences since he was 18 when the AIDS crisis began in the UK. Likewise, the three protagonists –played by Alexander, Omari Douglas and Colin Morris-Jones– will have the same age as Davies during 1981, when they move to London yearning for a new, different and better life. Neil Patrick Harris, who also stars in the series, explained the drama tells two main stories: one of the young people discovering their true identities and the beginning of the destructive AIDS pandemic (The Sun).

In a statement, the series’ production company (RED Production Company) gave the following synopsis for the series:

“Ritchie, Roscoe and Colin are young lads, strangers at first, leaving home at 18 and heading off to London in 1981 with hope and ambition and joy… and walking straight into a plague that most of the world ignores. Year by year, episode by episode, their lives change, as the mystery of a new virus starts as a rumour, then a threat, then a terror, and then something that binds them together in the fight. It’s the story of their friends, lovers and families too, especially Jill, the girl who loves them and helps them, and galvanizes them in the battles to come. Together they will endure the horror of the epidemic, the pain of rejection and the prejudices that gay men faced throughout the decade.”

The trailer (which can be seen below) begins with the protagonists optimistically telling the camera, prior to the crisis, what their goals for the following five years are, unknowing of what the future holds for them. “Do you seriously think there’s an illness that only affects gay men? I don’t believe it.”, Ritchie (Olly Alexander’s character) says.