We gave it a B
Sometimes the public good that a TV program can do transcends any reservations you might have about its artistic shortcomings. So it is with In the Shadow of Love, a trite melodrama that nonetheless manages to convey a great deal of information about AIDS to its intended audience of teenagers.
The hour centers around Katie (Jennifer Dundas), a high school journalist who anchors the in-school TV news broadcast. She starts working on a story about a support group for teenagers who have tested positive for the AIDS virus. Katie’s ignorance about the subject — she nervously wipes her hand on her jacket after shaking hands with her first AIDS patient — becomes the opportunity for the filmmakers to clue us in on facts, figures, theories, and myths. Some of these are provided by playwright-actor Harvey Fierstein (Torch Song Trilogy), who has a small role as a counselor in an AIDS clinic.
The best thing about In the Shadow of Love is that it dispenses its information free of moralizing. This is the only AIDS drama I’ve seen that acknowledges without disapproval that teens have sex but which also isn’t too hip to point out that sexual abstinence is one way of avoiding the AIDS virus. But the drama of Shadow is too obvious-just after completing her crash course in AIDS research, Katie discovers that her boyfriend (Jim O’Connor) has tested HIV-positive. But the show communicates its information well. B