Based on an acclaimed trilogy of novels by Swedish author Jonas Gardell, the three-part drama Don’t Ever Wipe Tears Without Gloves follows two young men in love and the impact of the AIDS crisis on Stockholm’s gay community in the early 1980s. Originally airing in Sweden in 2012, the series is now coming to the United States on DVD. Each episode covers one of the three novels: Love (Kärleken), Disease (Sjukdomen) and Death (Döden).
As the show begins, it focuses on nineteen-year-old Rasmus (Adam Pålsson), who after graduation moves from rural Värmland to Stockholm to attend school. As soon as he arrives in Stockholm he begins to seek out the gay community, where he meets and befriends Paul (Simon J. Berger). At a Christmas dinner party in Paul’s apartment he eventually meets Benjamin (Adam Lundgren), a young man who is struggling to come to terms with his homosexuality and faith as a Jehovah’s Witness.
Rasmus and Benjamin fall deeply in love just as the AIDS crisis is about to begin. An early scene in the first episode shows two nurses dressed in heavy-duty bio-protective clothing in the early ’80s, caring for Reine (Kristoffer Berglund); suffering from AIDS. As the nurses tend the pained man, one nurse wipes a tear from his eye, which leads to the second nurse rebuking her afterwards with the sentence that serves as the title of the series: “Don’t ever wipe tears without gloves,” reflecting the unnecessary fear surrounding the virus at the time.
With terrific writing, direction and performances, Don’t Ever Wipe Tears Without Gloves is a deeply powerful romance and period piece and a strong reminder of how hard we have fought (and continue to fight) as a community. Watch the series trailer below and click here to pre-order your copy. It is coming to DVD in July.