Eels lead singer learns about his dad, mental illness, and quantum physics in Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives

Eels lead singer Mark Oliver Everett, known as E, goes on a quest to learn more about his father and his father’s work Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives, which debuts tonight at 8 p.m. ET on PBS. The documentary, which originally aired in the UK and was produced by the BBC and now airs as part of Nova, will also be viewable online as of Wednesday.

Quantum physicist Hugh Everett, who developed the concept of parallel universes that’s found its way into popular culture (in shows such as Star Trek), died when his son was 18, and now Mark Oliver Everett traveled “across the country as he attempts to understand the fantastic possibility of parallel universes and unravel the story of his troubled family and the father he never really knew,” according to PBS. By talking to his dad’s friends and colleagues and others, he “delves deep into the Everett’s family history, including the bouts of mental illness. Mark’s father and paternal grandmother both suffered from severe depression, as did his deeply troubled sister.”

Mark, who’s also written a memoir, Things the Grandchildren Should Know, about his life, says in PBS’ materials, “My father never, ever said anything to me about his theories. I was in the same house with him for at least 18 years, but he was a total stranger to me. He was in his own parallel universe. He was a physical presence, like the furniture, sitting there jotting down crazy notations at the dining room table night after night. I think he was deeply disappointed that he knew he was a genius but the rest of the world didn’t know it.”

The BBC has a an excerpt from the documentary, but here’s its brief trailer:

Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives [PBS]

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.