It's winter 1989 and things aren't looking good for roomies Mark Cohen (ANTHONY RAPP) and Roger Davis (ADAM PASCAL). The heat in their apartment has been turned off and their former roommate turned landlord, Benjamin "Benny" Coffin III (TAYE DIGGS), is going to evict them to make way for the building of a cyber studio. Of course, if they can convince Mark's ex-girlfriend, Maureen Johnson (IDINA MENZEL), to call off her performance-artist protest regarding the evictions, Benny will allow them to live rent-free in the new place.
But Mark, a struggling documentary filmmaker and Roger, a musician and former junkie who still hasn't gotten over his girlfriend's death, have no intention of doing that. Besides, Mark can't believe that Maureen has turned lesbian and is now dating lawyer Joanne Jefferson (TRACIE THOMS), while Roger tries to put off the advances of their downstairs neighbor, exotic dancer and junkie Mimi Marquez (ROSARIO DAWSON).
Then there's Mark and Roger's friend Tom Collins (JESSE L. MARTIN) whose return home is marred by a violent robbery. Coming to his aid is street drummer and transvestite Angel Schunard (WILSON JERMAINE HEREDIA) who rescues and then falls for him. Like some of the others, both have AIDS and they and their friends must deal with that, poverty, illness and Benny's attempts to evict them from their homes.