Five reasons to watch The Sinner on Netflix

Jessica Biel is Cora in The Sinner (Picture: Netflix)

Jessica Biel is Cora in The Sinner (Picture: Netflix) - Credit: Netflix

If you've got Stranger Things 2 withdrawal symptoms (and you've already watched Mindhunter), try Netflix's The Sinner


We've all been there: that moment where you feel as if you could murder someone because they've been so inconsiderate, rude or downright annoying.

Most of us, however, manage to choke back the urge to, well, choke someone for reasons including the fact that it's illegal, it's immoral and someone playing their music too loudly on a crowded beach doesn't really justify us lurching forward to stab them with the knife we've just used to peel a pear for our toddler son. Unless you're Cora Tannetti.

The Sinner is gripping, if disturbing, viewing. Netflix's latest must-watch drama is an eight-part thriller based on German crimer writer Petra Hammesfahr's book of the same name is about a seemingly ordinary (if slightly depressed and insular) married mother-of-one who appears to suffer a moment of madness as she stabs a stranger to death on a crowded beach.

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While Cora admits to the crime immediately, she has no idea whatsoever why she killed a stranger. Enter detective Harry Ambrose, played by Bill Pullman, who refuses to accept her guilty plea without looking into the reasons behind her crime.

And it's at this point that things start to get even darker. Through a series of flashbacks we discover that Cora's childhood was anything but normal and each recollection helps us to build our own 'What the…?' jigsaws at home as we all try and work out what in the name of everything that is holy is actually going on. Don't get me started on what the detective gets up to in his down time.

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In the (unforgiveably awful) words of X Factor contestants Rak-Su, 'let's Netflix and chill' – just don't say I didn't warn you about episode one.

Five reasons to watch The Sinner:

1) It's not a whodunit, it's a whydunnit: I don't think it's a major spoiler to announce that the murderer in The Sinner is revealed to us immediately in incredibly graphic, distressing scenes which may well make you question whether or not you fancy spending the afternoon at the beach again. The rest of the series doesn't involve us finding out who killed who, they involve us finding out why Jessica Biel's character Cora Tannetti did what she did.

2) To see Harry Ambrose taking the phrase 'maverick cop' to a whole new level: Bill Pullman's character is trying to rebuild his marriage to wife Faye and as the action opens, is sleeping on a sofa bed in his police partner Detective Dan Leroy's house while he tries to persuade Faye to take him back. His interest in Cora's case verges on obsessive and we learn that he's not been the best of husbands. While his wife woke up from an operation, she woke up in the recovery room alone because he was at home spraying his dogwoods for anthracnose (if anyone is reading, this is not the way to win anyone's heart). To be fair, his wife has more to worry about than fungicide – there's the dominatrix that forces him to pick up spilled oranges in supermarkets, for a start. The naughty scenes are definitely not ones to watch with your parents.

3) There's a terrifying beige ski-mask in it which makes next Halloween a doddle: Genuinely, that thing has been turning up in my dreams. Who on earth would choose a beige ski-mask? Is Alan Partridge involved? And while we're on the subject, Cora's baby sister is the most disturbing infant I have ever seen – she's virtually see-through and purple.

4) To realise that however hard you think your childhood was, Cora probably had it harder: The Sinner's title hints at something Biblical and my word, the fervent religion is quite something else. Cora's wicked mother tells her that her baby sister's health is reliant on Cora's good behaviour and constant praying: 'It's all a test,' she tells her, 'every single thing He expects of us, we have to do. Do you understand? Do you? It's the only way she'll live.' As parenting techniques go, it's one that's almost guaranteed to raise a murderer.

5) There's an actual ending: There are eight 45-minute episodes in The Sinner and it's a self-contained drama, so there's no waiting for a second series because you've got the entire series at your disposal in one, depressing, dark bingeing session. Hooray! That said, the series has been so successful that there's talk of a spin-off involving Harry the kinky detective. Oranges are not the only fruit, you know.

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