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Eric (Netflix) Series Review: Compelling Mystery

Benedict Cumberbatch is in the underground with a blue monster next to him in Eric

Benedict Cumberbatch stars in Netflix’s dark mystery series Eric, which features a missing children’s investigation and a fuzzy blue monster, set in 1980s New York City.

Series creator: Abi Morgan
Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Number of episodes: 6
Global Release: May 30, 2024
Where to watch: Netflix

All I could think about while watching the beginning of Eric is how fascinating it is that we have gotten three wildly different portrayals of imaginary friends so far in 2024. First, Blumhouse horror movie Imaginary, with its frightening twist on the childhood phenomenon.

Next, John Krasinski’s family friendly film IF tapped into the more traditional explanation of why kids create these entities. Now, we have Eric, which is easily the most interesting portrayal of imaginary friends out of the three. The titular Eric is a manifestation of the monster under the bed of Edgar (Ivan Morris Howe), a child that has been missing for 48 hours.  

Edgar’s father, Vincent (Benedict Cumberbatch, of The Power of the Dog), is one of the head puppeteers for an extremely popular children television show. When his son goes missing, he is thrown into a very dark headspace filled with loathing and grief, which causes him to become an alcoholic. This is when he discovers Edgar’s drawings of Eric, and soon after, starts to see Eric in real life. As everything in Vincent’s life spirals to disastrous places, Eric becomes his only ally in his pursuit to find his son. 

Eric is a captivating show, but not for the reasons I was expecting when I first heard what the series was about. While a large part of Eric falls on the shoulders of Vincent, Edgar’s disappearance sparks a larger exploration of issues of homelessness and police corruption in New York City during the 1980s. We spend the same amount of time with Vincent as we do with Ledroit (McKinley Belcher III), the lead investigator for Edgar’s disappearance. This means that Eric isn’t in the show nearly as much as I initially thought he would be, but that ends up not being disappointing. 

Benedict Cumberbatch draws leaning on a table with a blue monster looking at him on the opposite side of the table in Eric
Benedict Cumberbatch in Eric (Ludovic Robert / ©2023 Netflix, Inc.)

The portions that follow the police investigation are the best parts of Eric. McKinley Belcher III gives my favorite performance, and the procedural aspects are entertaining enough to have a standalone series. There are so many ideas brought up during these moments, such as homophobia within the NYPD and racial bias in police investigations, that you can get a little whiplash jumping from scene to scene, but you never lose interest. This isn’t to say that the portions of Eric following Vincent and his personal life aren’t good, but they do get a little repetitive as he falls deeper into alcoholism. 

While these two parts of Eric might not seem like they would fit together on paper, the end product is quite enjoyable. There are enough unique elements to have this series stand out above other familial mystery shows, and the plot constantly evolves in complex ways that’ll always keep your attention. If a show involving a corrupt police force, a spiraling alcoholic, and a bright blue fuzzy monster sounds like a good time, check out Eric: it’ll surely surprise you.

Eric will be available to stream on Netflix on May 30, 2024.

Eric: Trailer (Netflix)
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