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Wait, Is Netflix's 'Eric' Based On A True Story? I'm Scared

I knew Netflix’s Eric was gonna upset me and give me nightmares, but I obviously had to take the plunge. I’m just a girl — I need a healthy dose of televised crime in my life. Plus, the limited series only has six episodes, which is an easy one to two sitting situation for me. Eric stars Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays a desperate father searching for his missing 9-year-old son and losing his mind along the way. As I got more and more invested in the show, I began to get a bit nervous, ’cause I did not do my research beforehand: Is Eric based on a true story? I prayed that it was entirely fictional before doing a deep dive. It turns out, the answer is… kind of, but kind of not.

Is Netflix’s Eric Based On A True Story?

What Is Eric About?

The series takes place in 1980s New York City and follows Vincent Anderson, a puppeteer who runs a children’s program called Good Day Sunshine. After his 9-year-old son, Edgar Anderson, mysteriously goes missing, Vincent’s mental health steadily declines. He has his son’s drawings of a blue puppet named Eric and believes that he can lure his son home if he features the puppet on TV. Vincent “battles his demons on the vibrant, dangerous, and intoxicating streets of ’80s New York in a race to bring home his missing son,” per Netflix’s Tudum.

Eric Was Inspired By Several True Stories

Eric wasn’t inspired by one true story in particular. Rather, the show is based on the 1980s period and a wave of child disappearances that happened then. “There were several children who disappeared,” showrunner Abi Morgan told USA Today. “I wanted to create a kind of everychild; the simple act of going out one day and not coming home felt very resonant.”

She noted to Today that the series is meant to evoke the “stranger danger” panic of the 1980s. “It is based on the dark shadows of an era,” she explained. “It’s that era of the mid-80s when the AIDs epidemic was hitting, there was systematic racism within a number of institutions in New York, there was gentrification in the city happening at the same time as low income families were struggling to find places to live.”

While chatting about Eric with RadioTimes.com, Abi recalled hearing about missing-persons cases when she was young. Growing up in the U.K. in the ’80s, she was “haunted” by stories of missing children.

Eric does notably bear similarities to the 1979 case of Etan Patz, who was six years old when he went missing while walking to his Manhattan school bus stop alone. Etan was never found.

Ilana Frost
Ilana Frost
Ilana Frost is an entertainment writer at Betches. As a teenage girl in her twenties, she spends her time stanning Olivia Rodrigo, baking cakes for award shows, and refusing to ever leave her Reputation era.