the film that brought AIDS into the TV heart of America.
The term groundbreaking can be an overused expression. Only not in this case. For this is indeed a true groundbreaking work. Not in terms of its production values. Nor even with regard to its direction, being clearly soap opera in style. But rather in terms of what it did. Namely, to directly address the then taboo subject of AIDS. It did so in a sincere and poignant fashion, by relating the story of a young man who returns home knowing that in doing so, he has somehow to tell his family that he's both gay and HIV-positive.
For it is the reaction by the individual members of his family to his plight that form the emotional foundation stones of this piece, given they largely mirrored those held by many at this time. Be it the love of a supportive mother to the homophobic wrath of an intolerant father, to that of the support of a loving grandmother to a pregnant sister scared that the virus may pass to her unborn child.
The result is a telemovie that marked not so much an early frost, but more an early crusade in the depiction of a disease that was taking the lives of all too many. For this is a film that made people stop and think, thanks largely to the compelling work of Aidan Quinn as HIV-positive Michael Pierson, coupled with Gena Rowlands and Ben Gazzara; screen parents who find their idyllic world torn apart by the AIDS crisis arriving on their doorstep. Yet whilst Sylvia Sidney in one of her last appearances shines in her portrayal of a loving grandmother not afraid to hold her grandson, the real star turn lies with John Glover and his heartrending performance of a proud gay man battling with the disease, but remaining optimistic throughout.
For in times devoid of the life-enhancing drugs of today, this historic NBC production, alongside the Arthur J Bressan Jr feature Buddies,
held out a message of hope and compassion for those infected or affected by AIDS. Both are pioneering works. Both are classics of gay cinema. But in this case, here was a
film that in 1985 dared bring the subject of AIDS into the television heart of America. And the rest, as they say, is history.