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

If USA's The Sinner was a game of Clue, we'd all be winners.

The murder mystery, now in its second season, leaves very little doubt as to whodunit. In the first season, it was Cora, with a paring knife, on the beach. In the second season, it was 11-year-old Julian, with poisoned tea, in a hotel. Scores of people witnessed the first murder. Julian himself confessed to the second.

So it's not a question of who. It's a question of … why?

Detective Harry Ambrose delves into these mysteries in search of those ever-so-elusive answers. Sometimes, the culprit might not be the ultimate killer. Perhaps someone, or something, is pulling the strings—a homicidal Wizard of Oz hiding behind the curtain.

But with each case, Ambrose leaves himself vulnerable to undoing the ragged stitches in his own battered soul, and his fellow detectives and police officers sometimes do the same. Just as some of Ambrose's cases may have more than one suspect (despite what the blood spatter suggests), so each crime's victims often go beyond the bodies lying on the floor.

Open Case

In the second season, the killer at the center of the story is young Julian, who poisoned two people who were thought to be his parents. Not so fast: When Julian's actual mother shows up to reclaim the boy, the case takes on new, sinister layers.

See, they belong to a local group who live on a compound known as Mosswood. It's either an idealistic, utopian commune or an infamous cult—depending on which side of the fence you stand on. Vera, Julian's mother, practically runs the group, and Julian was born in it. He's the only kid on the organization's premises, actually, since the other cult members have pushed personal and familial relationships aside for "the work."

To earn Julian's trust, Ambrose unspools painful elements in his own backstory. But he's not the only one confronting the past. Ambrose's new partner, Detective Heather Novack, has had her own experience with the cult: losing her lesbian lover to it. And the show will likely continue to expose many more unseemly secrets along the way.

Hating the Sin …

Given the murder-mystery conceit of The Sinner, violence is pretty much a given. We see blood gush and seep and drizzle. People sometimes die in terrible, terrible ways.

Sex is an integral, inescapable, element of these mysteries, too. We see lots of it, including movements, acts and some skin. (Nothing critical is shown, however. This is still a basic cable series, after all. But it's pretty graphic, even if it technically avoids explicit nudity.) We also hear about both hetero- and homosexual relationships. Sexual assault and incest have all been on the narrative docket as well.

People drink. They swear. They verbally reference some pretty tough subjects, including abortion and attempted suicide.

But perhaps the most interesting—and potentially the most troubling—aspect of The Sinner involves its spiritual underpinnings. The show weaves religious elements into its violent fabric; and that faith—be it Cora's fervent childhood Christian devotion in Season 1 or the murkier spirituality found in Season 2—can give the show a complex, sinister shadow.

Many of us have known someone who was victimized by someone in his or her faith community. We know that religion can be misused, doing terrible damage to its victims. But, hopefully, we also know that if bad religion hurts, genuine faith heals. Indeed, it's the only real source of healing we may have in this world.

The Sinner's take on faith is layered, but often problematic. And even though the show could potentially foster discussion about some significant issues, the problems we need to wade through to get to that discussion may just be too deep.

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

Aug. 30, 2018
Aug. 8, 2018: "Part II"
The Sinner: Aug. 8, 2017 "Part II"



Readability Age Range



Bill Pullman as Harry Ambrose; Christopher Abbott as Mason Tannetti; Enid Graham as Elizabeth Lacey; Robert Funaro as Ron Tanetti; Eric Todd as Frankie Belmont; Jessica Biel as Cora Tannetti; Grayson Eddey as Laine Tannetti; Patti D'Arbanville as Lorna Tannetti; Carrie Coon as Vera Walker; Elisha Henig as Julian Walker; Natalie Paul as Heather Novack; David Calls as Andy 'Brick' Brickowski; Hannah Gross as Marin






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!