Sinceevolved into a mega depot of endless content (in a good way), there’s been constant chatter about shows being “bingeworthy.”
Netflix arguably pioneered this concept, dropping entire seasons of a show at once, negating the need to wait for weekly episodes. You could order UberEats, lie in your pajamas all day and consumein a pile of your own filth to your heart’s content.
But I was never a binger. Not really. I’ve always been more of a “one episode a night guy.”
In fact, as far back as I can remember, only one Netflix TV show compelled me to sit bug-eyed on the couch with the posture of an exhausted baboon, streaming an entire season’s worth of content in one sitting.
That show was The Sinner.
A murder mystery show with a twist, The Sinner is top-notch television. Unlike most crime shows, which have detectives trawling through clues in an attempt to find out who the murderer is, The Sinner shows you — in its very first episode, in broad daylight — exactly who the murderer is. The Sinner is less of a “whodunit” and more of a “whydunit.”
The mystery lies in uncovering motives. What initially appears to be a senseless, motiveless act of violence slowly unravels into something far more complex.
In season 1, Jessica Biel stars as Cora, a mother who brutally stabs a stranger to death on a beach while her husband watches. The detective on the case is Harry Ambrose, ably played by Bill Pullman in a performance that somehow conforms to detective tropes while subverting them. (). He’s a weird unit, our Harry, with some interesting kinks. Who’s the real sinner, eh detective?
Why is The Sinner the most bingeable show on Netflix? It’s hard to pin down a single concrete answer. The performances, particularly by Biel and Pullman, are original and measured. The well-crafted spaces this mystery takes place in feel dark, compelling and suitably creepy. The show’s motifs and aesthetics also do a lot of heavy lifting – a song, played endlessly throughout, will haunt you in your dreams.
But it’s the show’s structure, the well-crafted storytelling, that really keeps you hooked. Twists and turns are perfectly drip-fed and never feel unearned. This, combined with the powerful central mystery – why would a seemingly normal, well-adjusted woman brutally murder a stranger – makes it near impossible to stop watching. Better still, the answers, when they arrive, feel more than satisfactory. The Sinner will not disappoint you. It will leave you feeling on edge, a little grimy, but more than content.
Subsequent seasons of The Sinner never quite hit the same heights. Its second run was solid, but I wouldn’t recommend the show beyond that. But The Sinner’s first season, as a standalone, is as good as it gets. If you’re looking for a murder mystery to sustain your dark impulses and drag you kicking and screaming from start to finish, look no further. Just be warned: I started this show at 7 p.m. on a Sunday night. I finished it at 3 a.m. the following morning.
Make sure you plan your viewing effectively. Because once you start watching this show, it is almost impossible to stop.
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