The key to Netflix's new and limited series Eric should entirely be its time (1985) and location (Manhattan). But this key—which concerns the twilight of a period that began with President Gerald Ford refusing to bail out civil New York City from debts it could no longer service (1975), and ended with Jean-Michel Basquiat overdosing on heroin in his Noho flat (1988)—only works on the first half of the six-episode series. Eric also begins as an impressive mystery (missing child, detective with secrets, powerful people pulling all sorts of strings) and ends [SPOILER ALERT] as a fanciful Freudian family drama (daddy was mean to his son because his daddy was mean to him). Had the show stuck with its time and space, and kept the disappearance of the boy a crime that had to be solved, it would have produced a masterful narrative that presented the social forces that shape family life.

Let's go back to 1985. What's happening in New York City? The struggle between labor (city employees) and capital (which runs city hall) is soon to end with the latter claiming victory. Wall Street's power is rapidly expanding. The poor are being swept out of Manhattan. Gentrification is gaining steam. HIV is still seen as "the gay disease." And hip-hop is not only popular but on the verge of entering the mainstream. All of these developments are, at first, represented in Eric.

For example, when the show's main character, Vincent Anderson (Benedict Cumberbatch), is informed in "Episode 1" that the children's show he co-created, Good Day, Sunshine!, is becoming stale and needs to include a beatboxing puppet to keep up with the times, his rejection of the idea not only goes unchallenged (by even the Black puppeteers) but hip-hop is never again mentioned. There's no breakdancing on street corners, no rapping on the radio or booming from ghetto blasters, no nothing of the kind. (There is, however, lots of folk rock and, due to the—weak—gay characters and—unconvincing—gay club scenes, some disco.) One would be surprised to learn that "The Show," the song that introduced beatboxing master Doug E. Fresh and one of rap's first superstars Slick Rick, is a huge hit in the show's year, 1985. Or that Run DMC's Raising Hell (hip-hop's first platinum album) and Beastie Boys' Licensed to Ill (hip-hop's second platinum album) are right around the corner.

True, Vincent Anderson's son, Edgar Anderson (Ivan Morris Howe), is enamored with a two-bit tagger, Yuusuf Egbe (Bamar Kane), but nothing becomes of it. The boy is not really into graffiti, which exploded in the '70s and had already entered the gallery world by 1985. Edgar doesn't revolt against his father's vision of art, which is stale and in decline, but instead reinforces it. Indeed, his father appropriates one of his drawings (a monster that has Maurice Sendak written all over it) to revive his enervated career.

Nearly 40 years after the fictional Edgar ran away from his home (his crazy father, his feckless mother) and entered the underground world of the homeless to be close to a tagger with a heart of gold, I visited Manhattan. And what caught my eye here and there was how so much of it had become a museum of the 1980s—its nightlife, its dingy shops, and, of course, its music. On the corner of Houston Street and Eldridge Street, I came across a mural of a young LL Cool J sporting gold jewelry and a remixed Kangol hat. A block from Riverton Street and Ludlow Street (now officially called Beastie Boys Square), I entered a bar, Thief, devoted to the Golden Age of Hiphop (1979 to 1988). The small establishment had a Run DMC shrine below a blue speaker, a grimy boombox surrounded by tape-gutted cassettes and spent spray cans, and expertly executed graffiti all over its walls. In fact, there seems to be as much graffiti inside of remodeled hotels and new apartment buildings as there is on the street.

The makers of Eric might have forgotten or ignored this New York, but the city itself, despite being in its billionaire stage of gentrification, refuses to. 

Here, I must admit that a personal memory affected my experience (and subsequent interpretation) of Eric. The memory recalls an afternoon in the spring of last year. It was around 3 pm, and I walked into the Shell on Genesee Street to buy wine for the hour or so I planned to spend at the section of Genesse Park that's next to Lake Washington. After selecting a pricey bottle of Grüner Veltliner, "The Show" began to rock on the station's speakers. Because I had not heard this track in a minute, I decided to listen to it on my way to the park. When I reached my destination (Doug E. Fresh beatboxing and Rick the Ruler rapping to the theme of Inspector Gadget), I was suddenly overwhelmed by an upwelling of emotion and burst into tears. I almost never cry, but here I was on a park bench beneath the temple-like shelter balling like nobody's business. What just happened? It was all in the music. "The Show" transported me to 1986, to a little cottage in Chisipite, Harare. 

The cottage was next to a two-story house on eight acres of land by Bay Bokes Road. My family (my brother, sister, and parents) were in the house; I was in my cottage listening to a recording of Mr. Magic's Rap Attack on WBLS, New York City's second-best hip-hop show (number one was, of course, Kool DJ Red Alert's on Kiss FM). And then it happened: Magic's DJ, Marley Marl, began cutting up "The Show." I cried in the park because all who were in the house at that moment in time were now dead. When my sister became a shade near the middle of April, my first family was down to just me. I stopped the music. But I could not stop crying. Then I saw someone I knew approaching me with a concerned expression. I stood from the bench, and, without saying a word, walked away from them, walked toward the recently cut field, walked into a swirl of swift and low-flying swallows. That person no longer talks to me.

As you can see from this memory, Eric had little to no chance of getting a fair shake from me. Memories are more than just tears in the rain.