It's a Sin about 'It's a Sin'

Monday July 19, 2021
Originally published on July 14, 2021

"It's a Sin" was one of the best received and watched limited series of the year. But you wouldn't have known it existed from the Emmy nominations released yesterday, where it was completely snubbed.

Granted, the category — Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series — is a tough one, with five strong contenders: "I May Destroy You,"†"Mare of Easttown,"†"The Queen's Gambit,"†"The Underground Railroad," and†"WandaVision." But why wasn't the category expanded to eight (such as for Comedy or Drama series)? As Vulture points out, there were more than enough quality series worthy of a nomination, such as "Steve McQueen anthology†'Small Axe,'†'The Good Lord Bird,'†and†'A Teacher.' " (According to Variety, the limited series/anthology category has 37 programs on the ballot. Follow this link for the full list.)

And "It's a Sin," Russell T. Davies' poignant limited series that followed the lives of a group of 20-something Londoners during the 1980s when the AIDS epidemic devastated a generation of gay men. It premiered first in Britain in January, then the following month in the United States, to great acclaim. It currently has a 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

"Critics will sometimes describe series like 'It's a Sin' as if watching them were also a self-sacrificing act as well — phrases like 'must-see' imply a kind of duty to history. And I will not pretend that 'It's a Sin' isn't heartbreaking.

"But it's also propulsive, galvanizing, even joyous. This is a stirring requiem for the dead, shot through with defiant life," wrote James Poniewozik in the New York Times.

The series received no nominations yesterday — an oversight to be sure, given the quality of its young acting ensemble, including a standout Olly Alexander as the show's leading character, Ritchie, a young actor reveling in the sexual freedom of London in the early 1980s.

The excellent ensemble includes Lydia West, Callum Scott Howells, Omari Douglas, Nathaniel Curtis,†and Neil Patrick Harris; but a standout for an acting nomination was Keeley Hawes as Ritchie's selfish mother, who gives the show's finale an unexpected, genuine emotional jolt.

Also, Davies' script, which encapsulates the harrowing years with a gentle, knowing hand, deserved a nomination, as did director Peter Hoar (who helmed the five episodes), who balances the exuberant, liberating spirit of the time with the heartbreak of the epidemic, and does so with visual inventiveness.

Many on Twitter were also equally disappointed: