Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"


Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

TV Series Review

It's terrible to be rich in America. No, let me take that back: It's terrible to be rich on an American television show.

Sure, these telegenic characters may live in sprawling mansions and stroll through manicured gardens. Granted, they may own Gucci handbags and teeter on their Jimmy Choos. But where, pray tell, do they actually store all their designer gear? Because there's certainly no room in their mansion's walk-in closets—not with all the skeletons stuffed in them.

Concrete Evidence

Take the Hawthornes in CBS's American Gothic. They're a well-to-do Boston family who made their fortune in the concrete business. For the most part, they've always been a family that mixed well with other Northeast elite: Father Mitch and mother Madeline made sure of that. Daughter Alison took so firmly to the family's hoity-toity ways that she's running for mayor now. Young son Cam is a successful artist. And baby sister Tessa—well, she's just the sweetest, nicest girl you'd ever want to buy concrete from.

Admittedly, the family's not perfect. Eldest son Garrett did disappear for, oh, 14 years without so much as a Facebook page status update. But the Golden Son is back now! And everyone is sure that he'll shave and stop stabbing himself in the hand eventually.

But the family empire has been crumbling as of late. Like, literally.

When a tunnel made of Hawthorne concrete suddenly gives way, police discover a clue from a long-dormant cold case: a belt apparently used by the so-called Silver Bell Killer 15 years before. (The killer used the belt to strangle somebody, not as a fashion accessory.) Oddly, Tessa finds a box full of silver bells on her family's property right around the same time. It's not long before patriarch Mitch suffers a heart attack. And when he starts babbling to Madeline that they "have to tell the truth," Madeline promptly squeezes off his oxygen tube.

Cementing his fate, as it were.

Is it possible that Mitch and Madeline could've tag-teamed as the Silver Bell Killer? Could one of the kids be in on it? Or is Mom simply protecting one of her progeny?

But who has time to find out? The Hawthornes, after all, have a lot on their silver serving plate. Cam is a recovering drug addict. His son, Jack (the only person in the family who has an airtight alibi, given he wasn't yet born at the time) is cutting the tails off cats and stealing neighbors' dentures. Alison, despite being married, is exploring a same-sex dalliance with her campaign manager. Tessa's marriage to police detective Brady is on the rocks, too. And Garrett? Well, let's just say that it'd be best to keep sharp objects away from the guy for now.

Another Brick in the Wall

In the world of fashionable television, black is the new black. Dramas are practically required to be dark and brooding, filled with gloomy subplots and shadowy literary pretensions and, of course, lots of problematic content.

American Gothic wants to be fashionable. But in order to stand out from all the other dark shows out there, it has accessorized with an extra dose of crazy. While each episode snatches its title from a well-known American painting (American Gothic itself was pulled from Grant Wood's famous farmer portrait), its creators appear to have taken most of their inspiration from Jackson Pollock—enthusiastically spattering stray plot points and disjointed mysteries and, oh yes, sex and drugs and the occasional murder on the telegenic canvas, hoping it'd all look great and important in the end.

Alas, unlike Pollock, what we have here is just a mess. While American Gothic doesn't go overboard with problematic content—this is a CBS show, not one on AMC or FX, after all—there's still plenty to give viewers pause. Characters engage in all sorts of physical relationships. They drink and smoke. Oh, and they sometimes kill, too. Let's not forget that.

American Gothic tries to pass itself off as serious entertainment when it actually wants to be unhinged summer escapism.

It flails at both.


Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles



Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

American Gothic: July, 6, 2016 "Nighthawks"



Readability Age Range



Juliet Rylance as Alison Hawthorne-Price; Antony Starr as Garrett Hawthorne; Justin Chatwin as Cam Hawthorne; Megan Ketch as Tessa Ross; Elliot Knight as Brady Ross; Stephanie Leonidas as Sophie Hawthorne; Gabriel Bateman as Jack Hawthorne; Virginia Madsen as Madeline Hawthorne; Catalina Sandino Moreno as Christina Morales; Maureen Sebastian as Naomi Flynn; Dylan Bruce as Tom Price; Lorna Wilson as Phyllis Krittenhauser; Aidan Devine as Gunther Holzman






Record Label




On Video

Year Published



Paul Asay

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!