Watch or skip Eric: All-star cast shines amid bulky plot

Eric is definitely one of the best new Netflix shows of the year so far
Eric on Netflix
Eric on Netflix /

There's a new mystery series on Netflix called Eric, named after a giant puppet monster who lives in the subway tunnels and sewers of New York City. Eric stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Vincent, a children's TV show creator who is searching (kind of!) for his missing son, Edgar (Ivan Howe), a nine-year-old who vanished on his way to school one morning.

That's the hook! Eric is set in the 1980s and is a much deeper commentary on politics, racism, police issues, social justice, housing, public health, the AIDS crisis, discrimination, hate crimes against the LGBT community, and more. Created by Abi Morgan, Eric also has an excellent cast, rounded out by Gaby Hoffman, Dan Fogler, McKinley Belcher III, David Denman, Adepero Oduye, Phoebe Niccols, and more.

So, let's get into the real question: should you watch Eric or not? We have some thoughts to share.

Why you should watch Eric on Netflix

Eric - Netflix /

I'll keep this short and sweet. There are two reasons you should watch Eric: brilliant acting performances and a mystery that will make you just curious enough that you won't be able to stop watching.

I have a strong inkling that Eric will pop up a few times on the shortlists for the awards shows in the acting categories. Where the story struggles, the performances of Cumberbatch, Hoffman, and Belcher III more than make up for it. Eric is a masterclass in performance from the three leads. Cumberbatch is especially good as his character slowly loses his mind, becoming the monster he fears.

I was so impressed with Belcher III. I recognized him from his role on Ozark, but this is a much bigger role. In every scene with his character, Detective Ledroit, you'll be mesmerized by the quiet power. You know there's an untapped source of strength flowing through his veins, and when he finally puts all the pieces together, it's magic on screen.

In addition to the great performances, there's just enough of an addicting mystery to keep you watching. This story dips and stalls at times, but the search for Edgar, along with the other side of the mystery -- the search for Marlon Rochelle, who has been missing for a year longer than Edgar, you'll have a hard time turning this off.

Plus, there are only six episodes in this Netflix original limited series. It's a quick binge-watch!

Why you should skip Eric

Eric Season 1
Eric on Netflix - episode 5 /

Eric is not perfect, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't give it a try. Some pretty clear flaws could have been worked out with more efficiency.

I will say that, eventually, the story does fall into place in the end, but there's a lot of stuff going on here, for lack of a better phrase. It's a kidnapping story and mystery, but it's so much more than that. As I mentioned, it's a commentary on so many different things about life in the 1980s, current issues people are facing, and more. Like, it's a loaded series, and I don't know if that's a good thing.

It's not that there are too many characters or storylines taking place. Many points are being made, sometimes at the mercy of authenticity. And, that's the problem. It's not that I don't agree with the issues presented (I do!) or like the story or performances (I do!), but after finishing the series, I wonder what the overall message or takeaway is. Stories don't have to change or confirm our worldview to matter, but I'd like this show more if it offered something instead of trying to make so many points.

Clearly, you should skip this series if you're uncomfortable with watching racism, discrimination suicide, and other things like that. There is a child sex ring. While there are only a few graphic scenes, it's still very unsettling given the backdrop of the series and the issues presented.

Verdict: Eric is still one of the best new Netflix shows of the year

Even with its pacing issues and bulky plot, Eric is still worth watching, to me. It's one of the best new Netflix shows of 2024 so far, and it will likely be that way for most of the year. In my opinion, it's not Baby Reindeer level, but it's on the same level as, say, The Gentlemen or 3 Body Problem. I'm not saying you'll like the show if you like those shows, but in terms of quality, they are similar with excellent acting performances and some story structure issues that can't be avoided.

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