Rapid Insights: Eric’s Father-Son Drama and 1980s Setting Hook Viewers

Netflix recently released a buzzy new limited series that has been receiving widespread critical and popular acclaim. Set in 1980s New York, the dark mystery-thriller stars Benedict Cumberbatch as an abusive but distraught father desperate to find his missing nine-year-old son Edgar who disappeared on his way to school.

Here’s what you need to know about Eric:

Vault uses index scores to describe the impact a given story/theme/element will have on specific KPIs: 
≤79 Disappointing  80-89 Challenging  90-109 Average  110-119 Promising  120+ Outstanding

Who’s been tuning in for this limited series drama? 
We’re seeing a viewership that leans female (55%) and is heavily older (77% aged 30+). This profile is somewhat more gender-balanced than the typical mystery-crime-thriller audience; while nearly all entrants in this genre do skew 30+, streaming viewers for shows like Three Pines, Shining GirlsThe KillingMare of Easttown, Big SkyTruth Be Told, and The Undoing tend to skew much more female (61-68%).

Why have viewers been checking it out? 
To find out what happened to Edgar. Eric’s top ratings drivers revolve around the search for the missing boy; audiences want to follow along as his parents–and the police–embark On a Mission (136) to uncover the truth (Searching for the Truth, 143) of their son’s fate. These Mystery (133) aspects parallel similar series whose key draws also depend on unraveling knotty, season-long crimes, such as Mare of Easttown (Murder Mystery, 114)Three Pines (Murder Mystery, 141)The Killing (Hidden Truth, 132), and Shining Girls (Searching for the Truth, 117).

What keeps audiences watching? 
The father’s struggle. Though pulled in by the mystery, viewers become hooked on the story of an increasingly distraught puppeteer who, spiraling on substance abuse and desperation, becomes convinced that a seven-foot-tall monster puppet named Eric will help him reunite with his son. The father’s increasingly volatile behavior (Struggling, 120), which pushes away his family (Husband-Wife Relationship, 137) and friends, as well as the 1980s NYC Setting (120) in which the story unfolds, are important drivers of the show’s bingeability.

What type of viewing experience does Eric offer? 
An Emotional Roller Coaster (136). The show shifts back and forth between the Trauma & Tragedy (129) of the present and much happier flashbacks of the family’s recent past. It is these lighter moments–along with flashes of hope during the search–that audiences find most appealing from the get-go; more positive emotions like Joy (130)Optimism (130)Awe (127), and Amazement (127) are stronger ratings draws. At the same time, the darker, more thrilling side of the story–as well as the father’s descent into near-madness–is what’s keeping audiences hooked; negative feelings like Vigilance (115)Anger (115), and Aggressiveness (114) most impact bingeability.

How has the show been faring in social buzz? 
Great. Though its trailer drop made some waves, its May 30 episode release caused a huge spike in online chatter: Eric premiered at #3 on Netflix’s top 10 shows list and has maxed out our social buzz meter (at 160) for the past two weeks. Viewers are talking about the central Family Tragedy (135) of A Missing Loved One (119) as the desperate parents search for their son.


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