The Sinner — 4 Gavels 90% Rotten Tomatoes

Intrigued by Rotten Tomatoes ratings of 90% and above for each of the three seasons of The Sinner on Netflix, this “whydunnit” is a treat. Also, note that the 8-part series received Golden Globe nominations for Best Miniseries and Best Actress. Described as a dark mystery, it starts slow with themes of drugs, religious zealotry, and deviant sex, not exactly my favorite topics. But, if you stick with it, the writers do a great job of slowly leaking out details that change your whole perspective. As one critic says, “it gets its hooks into you.” Certainly, letting us see the crime and the perpetrator early on is not a new concept. Overlooking some of police work and judge’s actions that strain credibility, The Sinner is worthy of 4 Gavels.


Cora Tanetti, young mother without criminal background, with no warning repeatedly stabs and kills a doctor for no apparent reason. With dozens of witnesses, she declines the assistance of counsel. Detective Harry Ambrose will not accept that Cora is without motives. As he begins to peel off the layers of her subconscious, two drug-addled months of her life five years ago seem critical. But why?

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This is NOT the Jessica Biel we remember. Clearly, she deserved her Best Actress nomination as Cora. Similarly, Bill Pullman garnered several Best Actor nominations for his role as Ambrose. Both Biel and Pullman show great skill with subtle nuances. As does the story, each gets better as the series proceeds. Also of note is Jacob Pitts as the smarmy J.D. Lambert. He is handsome, but even more, he is toxic.

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Final Thoughts

The above reflects Season One of The Sinner. Each season finds Ambose on a different case. Tracy Letts stars in Season Two and Matt Bomer in Season Three. A better writer than I says, “The Sinner played the sneaky but satisfying trick of leading the viewer towards what they thought were obvious answers, only to open up a new path at the last minute.” If you don’t get Netflix, you may be able to find this show on the USA Network. Season Three ends in March. As quirky and inappropriate as Ambrose can be from time-to-time, he can be equally fascinating. Bring on Season Two.

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