When a Netflix Miniseries Gives You More Than You Bargained for

There’s something comforting about my slow transition into a couch potato with my water bottle and a pack of baked chips in hand. It’s my way of winding down after a day of engaging with lovely humans. I appreciate psychological stories and was intrigued by one Netflix miniseries.

If you shy away from dark and intense, with a satisfying resolution to the horror of homelessness, racism, human trafficking, mental illness, and cruel parenting, this is not for you. But if you can handle realism, outstanding acting, and a window into character arcs that you’re glad you witnessed, get your popcorn and tissues.

ERIC Miniseries

The series ERIC, featuring the talents of seasoned actors, introduces us to a miserable puppeteer, Vincent Anderson, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, who self-destructs after his son goes missing following another explosive argument with his distraught wife, Cassie, played by Gaby Hoffman.

When Edgar goes missing, Vincent finds his son’s depictions of a polar bear-sized blue furry monster named ERIC. In Vincent’s mental decline, ERIC becomes the delusion of his self-loathing as well as his solution to finding Edgar.

NYPD missing persons Detective Ledroit, played by McKinley Belcher III, leads the search for Edgar, the protagonist of the back story. How does an ominous blue furry character named ERIC, a missing child, a rotten marriage, and a gay police officer inspire us to want to do better as humans? Without spoiling your viewing experience, I can tell you that it most certainly does make us both broken and healed. This miniseries made me want to “do better” in a world where safety and belonging are cherished commodities.

Film Represents Real Life

Maybe you’ve read some of my other articles where I focus on family dysfunction that culminates in estrangement. Many film projects naturally emulate life situations, and I’m wired to look for examples demonstrating how messy relationships appear. What poked me most about this series is not just the apparent awful relationship between Vincent and his son, Edgar. But also, how Edgar internalizes his parents’ behaviors and his father’s emotional angst. I promised not to spoil so you will want to watch all six episodes to discover what happens.

I can tell you that I have yet to meet anyone in my practice who does not want to belong, be safe, be loved, and valued. Family rifts and conflict can leave scars that need to be healed. Excellent films can organize and help catapult our healing process, where our grief shows up on the screen, and there’s a version of an ending we can accept.

More importantly, series such as ERIC and the apparent dysfunction of Edgar’s family illuminate how emotional harm is insidious. With a paralleled backstory highlighting corruption and heinous acts towards children, we can enlarge our capacity to empathize – if only to do and be better in our community.

It Is Never One-Sided

I’m always struck by the human tendency to invalidate someone’s perspective of their childhood experiences. When watching, notice the interaction between Vincent and any of his puppeteers. He was just unable to hear anything besides his perspective. Likewise, his mom and dad were like this as well. It alerts me to what I see on the estrangement front, with parents calling their adult children and others like them entitled and selfish.

On the contrary, we have the intolerance or disbelief of adult children who don’t want to consider that maybe a parent was not the monster, and there were other factors, such as alienation, that contributed to the breakdown of the relationship. I have joined the ranks of similar behaviors and share my short comings with frustration. I see this play out in our culture and social networks; the divisive and opinionated atmosphere with little room for empathy and understanding that there may be another way to look at a situation.

From Division to Understanding

As a messenger devoted to presenting an unbiased collection of research, anecdotes, and strategies, I envision bridging the gap from division to understanding. We live in a world where it is so hard to have civil, polite conversations without vitriol. Do we need to be so black and white? How do we make a difference at the most basic level? Can there be repair of very broken relationships? Can society accept and not castigate those who made mistakes?

What Does ERIC Have to Do with It?

Remember the boy, Edgar, who went missing? It turns out his dad, Vincent, was also a creative genius who imagined all the characters in a pseudo-Sesame Street Show. Those of us with grown adult children remember feeling so safe when we propped our kids in front of Sesame Street. Vincent found a way to honor children and teach them valuable lessons.

Nevertheless, for Vincent, all that became the ‘monster’ within him, also birthed this lovely legacy that honored belonging, safety, and finding hope. The series brings the viewer face to face with inhumanity and the conflict of how one navigates the ugly inevitability of its existence. ERIC is also an artistic gift, where tragedy and trauma can transform an individual into doing better for oneself, their family, and their community.

Learning from Books and Movies

If I am honest, I get inspired a lot by books or films. Sometimes I follow that train of inspiration steadfast and work towards changing. There are times, when I fall face first into the mud of forgetfulness, loss of interest, or busyness. With this series, I was so intrigued by the acting, story, and ideas made real on screen that I watched it twice.

Being attached to family well-being at the individual and family level, it spoke to my curiosity for understanding the characters and what I could learn. It reminded me that families and people can be fragile and resilient. Everyone can recount times wanting to belong, of inner turmoil and family challenges. We can align with knowing that if we have made it into our 60s, we have overcome a lot of difficulties and we are not those same people we were back in the 1980s. Having communicated with this community, I know we are a resilient bunch who take their well-being seriously.

A Study of the Human Condition

In the end, Netflix’s miniseries ERIC offers more than just an evening of entertainment; it provides a profound exploration of the human condition. The series masterfully addresses complex themes such as homelessness, racism, human trafficking, mental illness, and family dysfunction, challenging viewers to confront uncomfortable realities.

Through exceptional performances and compelling storytelling, ERIC illuminates the insidious nature of emotional harm and the pervasive need for empathy and understanding in our social connections. It reminds us that even in our darkest moments, there is potential for healing and transformation.

As we reflect on Vincent’s journey and the emotional turmoil that accompanies it, we are encouraged to recognize our own vulnerabilities and strive for betterment in our relationships and communities. This series is a poignant reminder that, despite our flaws and past mistakes, there is always room for growth, empathy, and the possibility of a hopeful legacy.

If you are interested in a conversation of how I help families to repair, and individuals to work through their estrangement, you can learn more at my website. I also offer an on demand course called  Embracing Renewal to guide you step by step towards transformative wellness when estranged.

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing themselves.” —Leo Tolstoy and Edgar

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Are you a fan of realistic films or series? If so, what films or series can you share that were meaningful for you? How do you think your own childhood experiences have shaped your perspective on family relationships and conflicts depicted in series like ERIC? In what ways do you believe watching emotionally intense and realistic dramas can contribute to personal growth and understanding of complex social issues?

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