It's a Sin

TV review by
Marty Brown, Common Sense Media
It's a Sin TV Poster Image
Great 1980s-set drama about AIDS epidemic has sex, drugs.

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Many positive messages about friendship, activism, and supporting one another through crisis.  

Positive Role Models

Takes place in a close-knit gay community in London in the 1980s as they struggle through the beginning of the AIDS epidemic. Explores how prejudices exacerbated the health epidemic, how marginalized communities may receive lower-quality health care. Characters care for each other, find joy in life and friendship. 


Some forms of abuse are seen, including sexual harassment.


Sex is a major part of the show, depicting how the AIDS epidemic began and spread within small communities. Simulated sex is shown frequently, with some male nudity. Sex is also often described and joked about.


Profanity is used throughout: "f--k," "s--t," "piss," "slut," etc.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters drink alcohol throughout, and many scenes take place in a bar. Drug use is talked about but not shown.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that It's a Sin is a series about a small community of friends experiencing the AIDS epidemic in 1980s and '90s London. The show focuses on community, specifically the marginalized gay community in 1980s London, exploring what draws people to these small communities, how they can provide a family for those without one, and how the members of a community can support one another through crisis. The series also draws parallels between the AIDS epidemic and the coronavirus pandemic, especially in terms of how information is disseminated and interpreted, and how misinformation can directly affect people's experiences with the disease. In depicting the spread of AIDS, sex is a major part of the plot and subject matter. Simulated sex is shown frequently, some male nudity is seen, and some characters make choices to have unprotected sex. Alcohol use includes many scenes that take place in a bar, and drug use is sometimes described by characters. Though it's frank and graphic in its depiction of the AIDS epidemic, It's a Sin is also often a joyous and entertaining series, mixing music and comedy throughout in order to show all the ways in which the close-knit community provides for one another.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byDorsetMum March 20, 2021

Emotional, educational, honest

I watched this before my daughter, who is almost 16, thinking she wouldn't be interested in it all, but loving the 80s and hearing me talk positively about... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byjack thulborn December 28, 2021

diverse role models and inclusive

inclusive show with diverse role models
Teen, 14 years old Written byamaya.06 September 11, 2021

My Favourite Show!

After watching it as a 14yo, I think any (mature) child 13+ would be fine watching it without the sex, and 14/15+ with. The main thing age wise is some sex scen... Continue reading

What's the story?

It's a Sin begins with Ritchie (Olly Alexander), Roscoe (Amari Douglas), and Colin (Callum Scott Howells) each leaving their respective homes and setting out for London in 1981. Within a few months, they've all, along with friend Jill (Lydia West), become roommates as well as central figures in a small but thriving community of gay men. As friends within their circle begin to get sick with a mysterious, fatal disease, Ritchie, Roscoe, and Colin become aware of a disease called AIDS that seems to be mostly affecting the gay community. 

Is it any good?

Writer-producer Russell T. Davies has quickly become one of the most significant voices in television, with the rare ability to absorb and respond to culture in real time. 2019's Years and Years explored how technology affects people in ways they're not psychologically prepared for, and it's not difficult to draw parallels between It's a Sin's depiction of the AIDS epidemic in London and the way America and Britain have responded to the coronavirus pandemic.

But while Years and Years was often difficult to watch, It's a Sin, for all of its frank depictions of disease and prejudice, is often a lot of fun. Davies keeps the series focused on community: how surrogate families can offer strength and support through crisis and tragedy, but also how communities can help otherwise marginalized people find a sense of identity and joy in togetherness.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the characters depicted on the show. When does It's a Sin take place? Where? What brings the roommates together? What are their relationships with one another like? What is their circle of friends like?

  • What happens when people start getting sick? How do the characters respond? Why do some choose to take AIDS seriously while others don't? How does information travel between the friends? How do they influence each other's point of view?

  • How does AIDS change the small community that the roommates are in? How do each of the characters respond? What are some of the choices they start to make differently? How do they help one another?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love LGBTQ+ TV

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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