Inverse Recommends

Netflix Just Followed Baby Reindeer With an Even Weirder Thriller

Don’t let the puppet fool you.

A man in a coat stands in a subway station beside a large, blue-faced creature resembling a yeti. Th...
Inverse Recommends

Netflix Originals have been on a hot streak lately. With the streamer now releasing more original content than ever, there’s room to let underseen creatives take bigger swings. Recently, this strategy paid off with Baby Reindeer, an adaptation of a solo theatrical show from creator Richard Gadd. Now, hot on its heels is another wild show from another playwright, and this one is even more ambitious.

Eric follows Vincent (Benedict Cumberbatch), the creator of a popular Sesame Street-esque children’s show, as he copes with his son Edgar's sudden disappearance. In his desperation, he begins seeing the puppet his son designed in the days before he went missing: a giant, horned monster named Eric. As Vincent gets increasingly desperate to save his son, his marriage, and his show, Eric pushes him to extremes to the point where it’s unclear if he’s saving his son’s life or ruining his own.

The show’s best element is separate from Vincent’s storyline. Detective Michael Ledroit (McKinley Belcher III) is tasked with finding Edgar in a dirty, crime-riddled 1985 New York, a world where children seemingly vanish into thin air. Edgar’s case collides with past missing person cases and Ledroit’s own life to expose a dark truth lying in the center of the NYPD.

Calling Eric ambitious would be an understatement. In its scant six episodes, Eric covers grief, substance abuse, class issues, corruption, human trafficking, and the AIDS crisis, often in the same breath. Sometimes it feels like the story’s bitten off more than it can chew, but it builds to a satisfying finale that finds small moments of justice.

Benedict Cumberbatch delivers the kind of performance masterfully balanced between manic and solemn that audiences expect from him, but the true breakout is Belcher as Detective Ledroit, who portrays the frustrations and challenges of attempting to solve seemingly unsolvable cases while living as a Black, queer cop in the 1980s. The supporting cast, like Gaby Hoffman as Vincent’s beleaguered wife and Dan Fogler and Roberta Colindrez as his co-workers, bring nuance to their roles, and even the puppet used for Eric is expressive enough to match the rest of the ensemble’s subtlety.

The scenes with Vincent’s imaginary friend are trippy but convincing.


Written by playwright-turned-screenwriter Abi Morgan, best known for Margaret Thatcher biopic The Iron Lady, Eric is not exactly a feel-good series. The tone gets bleak, and there are whole episodes where it feels like nothing will ever be good again. But just as the setting juxtaposes a brightly colored children’s show against a grungy New York, Vincent’s own life contrasts his relentless hope with a world determined to destroy it. He’s not the textbook definition of an optimist, but he survives nonetheless.

Eric, much like Baby Reindeer, is not a Netflix series you should binge. But with the right pace and the right mindset, even its bleak story dotted with otherworldly delusions offers a bright spot in 2024’s streaming landscape.

Eric is streaming on Netflix.

Related Tags