Everything we learned from Billie Eilish: The World's a Little Blurry documentary
From secret heartbreak to injuries to getting her driver's license, the singer's raw Apple TV+ documentary bares it all.
This article was written independently by Entertainment Weekly's editorial team and meets our editorial standards. Apple TV+ is a paid advertising partner in Winter 2021.
Despite her meteoric rise to stardom at a young age, Billie Eilish still remains a teenage girl, with normal teenage girl problems. Even with worldwide fame, millions upon millions of dollars in the bank, custom designer duds, and a history-making moment as only the second artist to ever sweep the four major Grammys categories in one night, none of it blocks her from experiencing moments in life that every teen goes through, for better or worse. And her Apple TV+ documentary Billie Eilish: The World's a Little Blurry captures it all.
From her first broken heart to getting her driver's license to her mental health struggles, Eilish's new doc from filmmaker R.J. Cutler takes you on a (very long) journey, from the first moment she heard herself being played on the radio to that historic Grammys sweep — interspersed with enough concert footage throughout to fill an entire set. It's the kind of unfettered access her most devoted fans will eat up, but the 2 hour and 20-minute runtime is enough to scare off the casual viewer... even one who knows all the words to "Bad Guy" and "Bury a Friend."
If you love Eilish but don't have the attention span (or time) to sit through the film, here's everything we learned from The World's a Little Blurry:
Her family is always there
Eilish still lives with her parents in the same ranch house in Los Angeles that she grew up in. It's the house where she and her brother Finneas wrote and recorded her debut album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? right in his bedroom, sitting cross-legged on his bed. It's where Eilish comes up with the concept for her music videos, shooting a rough idea on her iPhone with her mom acting as a stand-in.
The documentary almost plays as an extended home movie with how much her family is involved in every aspect of her life and career. Meetings about her album and touring sometimes take on the vibe of a family argument — no matter how upset anyone gets about something, there's a deep, unconditional love underneath it all. When Eilish has a bad night after a concert and doesn't want to keep meeting random adult men who are somehow tangentially involved with her record label, her mom talks to her about it the next day, half scolding her for shirking her responsibilities and half commiserating with Eilish about how an artist like her can't afford to have a bad day like that. Her mom's heart breaks talking about how the team "failed" Eilish in that moment. It's not the first nor last time you see her parents get emotional about what Eilish goes through, no matter if it's because she's a pop superstar or just a teenage girl with everyday struggles.
She goes to the DMV like everyone else
In the midst of becoming a global superstar, Eilish also had to get her driver's permit, and then her driver's license (but doesn't sing about it). She went to the DMV and passed her test, even as her mother watched from afar, worrying that she had failed it because the test administrator was taking too long to finish.
Eilish's parents worrying about her is a common thread throughout the documentary (and her life) — after she gets her license, she wants to go to her boyfriend's as her first solo drive. Her mother was inside the house on the phone while her father gave Eilish a long speech about safe driving. When her mother finally hangs up the phone to discover Eilish already left, the parents decide they're going to need Eilish to turn on her phone's tracking so they know where she is at all times. It's a far cry from most other young pop stars on the same fame and success level.
She's had her heart broken
Throughout the first half of the documentary, Eilish is shown trading "I love you's" and phone calls with a boy named Q, a.k.a. her boyfriend Brandon "Q" Adams. There isn't much footage of them actually sharing the same space — because he wasn't there with her all that much, even though she wanted him to be. He didn't do anything for her on Valentine's Day, making her lonely day on tour feel even lonelier. She got him tickets to Coachella in an effort to spend time with him before and after her 2019 set, but he bails on many of their plans that weekend. He spends time with her in her trailer right before her set when she needed to change into her outfit, but doesn't come to see her after, even when she begs him to.
Their relationship issues stem much deeper though — at one point she's shown getting upset on the phone with him after he confesses to driving drunk the night before. He lands in the emergency room at another time because he got angry and punched a wall, breaking his hand. She knows he's self-destructive and wants him to go to therapy. Ultimately Eilish ends their relationship, citing the fact that they want different things, his "lack of effort," and how he didn't have enough love for himself to love someone else. "I can't fix him. I tried. I can't do it anymore. I'm not happy," she says. During one concert performance after the breakup, she gets too choked up to sing and the audience sings her lyrics until she composes herself.
She has celebrity crushes
Everyone knows how deep Eilish's love for Justin Bieber goes. We've all seen the cameraphone videos from the moment they met in person at Coachella during Ariana Grande's set. But before they met in person, he DMed her on Instagram offering to collab with her. Her response? "You could literally hop on the song and just say 'poop' and I'd be happy with it," she says about their "Bad Guy" remix.
She met another one of her crushes at that same Coachella when Katy Perry introduced her to her fiancé, telling Eilish that he's a huge fan of hers, and Eilish had no idea that "Katy Perry's fiancé" was actually Orlando Bloom. "No way, bring him back! I want to meet him again," Eilish says after she learns she just met the Pirates of the Caribbean star without realizing it. "He kissed me on the cheek. I did not know that was him, I just thought that was some dude Katy Perry had met!"
She's her biggest critic
For anyone who saw Eilish's debut Coachella performance, it was an incredible, high-energy showcase of truly original talent. If you ask Eilish, it was terrible. Due to technical malfunctions with the giant screens behind her, having to cut songs for time after a delayed start, and her forgetting the lyrics to "All the Good Girls Go to Hell," she "wasn't happy with it" overall. Add to that the heartbreak of Q blowing her off that night, and she ends her once-in-a-lifetime Coachella debut night in tears.
She actually hates writing songs
Eilish and her older brother Finneas write all her songs, but it turns out nothing irks her more than the act of writing songs. "I like singing songs. I like having songs to sing," she says, standing in her kitchen. "I've always hated [writing songs]. Every single time that I've written a song that I actually like, I've hated the process. It really tortures me."
"Billie hates writing songs in general and is so woke about her own persona on the internet that I think she's terrified of anything that she makes being hated," Finneas explains. Even when he's told by the record label that they need to make a hit, he knows he can't tell Billie that's what they're trying to do. There's a lot of protecting Eilish's feelings from the pressures of delivering a soon-to-be-iconic album.
She gets injured — a lot
Eilish is known for her active, intense jumping and dancing during her shows. But a lot of the time, she's jumping and dancing through extreme pain. She's gotten shin splints and torn ligaments during concerts before — and continued to perform in a walking boot.
"I'm afraid I'll wake up and I won't have any of this anymore," she says. "Everything I've ever loved, I've had to quit. I used to dance like 12 hours a week. And then I got injured. I tore my growth plate in my hip, the bone separated from the muscle. It was the most depressing year of my life. I just laid in bed; I couldn't move. Since then, I have not danced."
With each injury, she endures nonstop rehab and workouts. She's in a constant state of healing, and worries that her body will always be "broken."
She struggles with depression
The young singer has always been open about her mental health issues and uses her songs as a diary to get out her dark feelings. She also uses a literal diary to get out her dark feelings, with many lyrics and music video ideas ripped right from its pages. "People are always like, it's so dark, have happy music," she says. "I'm like, but I'm never feeling happy so why would I write about things I don't know about? I feel the dark things. I feel them very strongly, and why would I not talk about them?"
Eilish opens up towards the end of the film about her suicidal ideation and self-harm tendencies when she was 14-15. She hid razors in her room, and always had band-aids on her wrists. "I was literally locking myself in the bathroom and making myself bleed because I thought I deserved it," she says.
Eilish also has Tourette syndrome, with many physical tics that are exacerbated when she's tired or stressed. She says she once broke a glass in her mouth because she bit down hard involuntarily, which is one of her more common tics.
Billie Eilish: The World's a Little Blurry is now streaming on Apple TV+.