Eric parents guide: The Benedict Cumberbatch Netflix series isn't made for kids

Benedict Cumberbatch stars as a father whose nine-year-old son goes missing in Netflix's latest limited series Eric. Can your kids at home watch it with you?
Ivan Howe as Edgar
Ivan Howe as Edgar /

As May closes out, Netflix has one last great series of the month to share with its subscribers. That would be Eric, the six-episode thriller series starring Emmy Award winner Benedict Cumberbatch. The gripping story follows parents living in 1980s Manhattan, whose nine-year-old son Edgar goes missing one morning when he leaves for school. As an investigation opens up, dad Vincent decides that if he makes one of Edgar's drawings come to life, maybe he'll return home.

I was fortunate enough to have seen Eric early, and I was pleasantly surprised. Not only is the mystery of Edgar's disappearance intriguing, but the way the show tackles societal issues of the time and place — including racism and classism — is very compelling. I definitely recommend Eric if you're looking for a quick, thought-provoking watch leading into the weekend. But depending on how old your kids are, you might want to wait until they're not home.

Netflix's Eric is rated TV-MA and here's why

The official age rating for Eric is TV-MA, with Netflix confirming that this rating is for "language, smoking, substances." That means it's recommended for ages 17 and up. For a TV-MA show, though, it could certainly be a lot worse! Those three reasons listed are very prevalent throughout the series, so let's break that down a bit more without getting into major spoilers:

Language: This is a show that's made for adults, and the language proves it. There are many uses of the "F"-word, "S"-word, and other swear words you wouldn't want your child to repeat. Because of Edgar's disappearance and other difficult events taking place throughout Eric, the characters are, understandably, angry and scared. This leads to the use of profanity in each episode.

Smoking and substances: Characters are seen smoking throughout the show (this is the '80s, remember?!) but substance abuse is an actual part of the storyline. One character abuses alcohol in nearly every episode and eventually goes to rehab. They are depicted as intoxicated through outbursts and having trouble walking up the stairs. They are also seen smoking a drug that looks to be Crack in one scene. In another scene at a club, they snort Cocaine.

Eric Season 1
Eric on Netflix - episode 2 /

Sex and nudity: There isn't a lot of this. There are scenes of characters kissing and in one scene in episode 6, a character performs oral sex on another, as seen in security footage. It's quick, there are no closeups, and it's not graphic. There is no nudity in Eric.

Violence and gore: There isn't a lot of this, either. Though there's a lot of arguing and shouting, the fights between characters are mostly verbal. One character gets a cut on their forehead but we don't get to see how it happened, and a bloody t-shirt is discovered in connection with the investigation. In one scene, a group of men beat up one of the characters, and they are seen later with bruises on their face. In another scene, security footage shows a character getting pushed next to a dumpster and kicked repeatedly. The character is killed, but we don't see the body as it's happening. Nothing is graphic.

Overall, there isn't a lot of visual stuff that would disturb a young child in Eric. There is, as mentioned, profanity throughout and substance abuse, but if your child is young enough that they don't understand these things, you should be fine to watch this in their presence. That said, it's always risky to expose a kid to curse words. You never know what they might pick up!

If your child has been exposed to profanity and knows not to repeat it, Eric is probably safe for them to see, but I doubt they would enjoy it. The show deals with mature themes that probably can't relate to or understand, which might bore them. There's also always a chance the storyline of a child going missing could frighten children. At the end of the day, it's up to your discretion to decide what your kid can watch or not. In my opinion, I'd say preteens and older would be okay to watch Eric.

Take a closer glimpse into what Eric is all about with the trailer here:

Mystery movies and shows on Netflix for kids

Don't think Eric is right for your kids to be exposed to? Totally get it! If they're looking for a mystery movie or show that's more their speed, we recommend the following:

  • Enola Holmes (PG-13) and Enola Holmes 2 (PG-13)
  • The Sleepover (TV-PG)
  • Once Upon a Crime (TV-PG)
  • Nightbooks (TV-PG)
  • Stranger Things (TV-14)
  • Riverdale (TV-14)
  • Wednesday (TV-14)
  • Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (TV-14)

All mentioned titles, including Eric, are available to stream right now on Netflix.

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