Three years ago, I read Taylor Jenkins Reid’s novel Daisy Jones & The Six and loved it. LOVED it. That book singlehandedly got me back into reading fiction (after years of reading mostly nonfiction) and made me a Reid fan for life. Since then, I’ve also read Malibu Rising, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, and Carrie Soto Is Back. Here is my review of Daisy Jones & The Six (the book) from February 2020:
Earlier this month, the highly anticipated limited Amazon Prime Video series debuted and I couldn’t wait. When I read Daisy Jones I made a note in the book that said, “I want to hear these songs” and I finally was getting the opportunity to do just that. Although I usually think books are better than television or film adaptations, I had a feeling that this was going to be something special and it was – from start to finish.
Divided into ten one-hour episodes, the series starts with the humble Pittsburgh beginnings of the Dunne Brothers Band (which eventually becomes The Six) led by Billy (Sam Claflin). Simultaneously, a young Daisy (Riley Keough aka Elvis Presley’s granddaughter) escapes her neglectful parents on a nightly basis to see live music on the Sunset Strip and write her own songs. She also attends parties at famous people’s homes which is how she meets Simone, a disco queen on the rise who is played flawlessly by Nabiyah Be and could probably have her own spinoff series.
Part Almost Famous, part Behind the Music (the documentary style interviewing method is an extremely effective storytelling tool that is also used in the novel), the series brings the book’s characters to life in 1970s Los Angeles. After reading Daisy Jones, I felt like I knew the characters so getting to see them actually talking and singing was so exciting. And while every single member of the cast is excellent, it is impossible to take your eyes off Keough and Claflin– for better or worse – because it’s hard to predict if they are going to rip through the screen while ripping each other apart.
While all the episodes are good, things really get going in episode three when legendary record producer Teddy Price (played by an excellent Tom Wright) has the insight to introduce Daisy to The Six and make (fictional) music history. By episode five, Daisy becomes an official member of the band and the chemistry between Billy and Daisy simultaneously comes into clear focus and all but erupts – in both positive and negative ways.
Anyone who has read the book or anything about the show knows that the Fleetwood Mac references and inspiration are undeniable. The stories of Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham making Rumours have become rock and roll mythology because when two electric and explosive personalities decide to collide and collaborate, magic happens. And that’s what takes place before our eyes with Billy and Daisy. Watching the timeline of this band go from gigging at small clubs to recording an album (Sound City!) to touring to hitting the music success stratosphere is a lot of fun – especially since it takes place so many decades before CDs, the internet, and social media. And at a time when the cover of Rolling Stone magazine was the ultimate measure of making it.
Episode seven is probably my least favorite because it deviates from the music plot and because I already knew that Daisy wasn’t going to stay in Greece forever. But I get why it was necessary as it showcases the level of heartbreak Daisy feels after what happens with Billy. Episodes eight, nine, and ten are a whirlwind depiction of the band on tour – buses turn into airplanes, groups of screaming fans multiply, and they start selling out venues with capacities of 60,000 people. Also, drugs and alcohol are prevalent and emotions run high in every sense of the word. Daisy Jones & The Six is the biggest band in the world and their fame affects everyone around them – including significant others, children, tour managers, and record producers.
Watching this group of people unravel is heartbreaking – especially since Billy is caught between two women he loves, keeping his addictions at bay, his love of music, and having a daughter at home. Meanwhile, Daisy is in love with someone who loves her but can’t be with her. It’s heart-wrenching but it also makes for incredible television because it’s so raw and real. That passion, success, and temptation is a lot for one person to carry and eventually Billy collapses under the weight of it all – but thankfully not in a cliché rock and roll tragedy way.
On a more positive note, there is nothing like nailing the energy and electricity of live music and this series does just that. I can’t get “Look At Us Now” and “Regret Me” out of my head. Those songs are so catchy and so full of angst and emotion that I’m still asking myself how it’s possible that Daisy Jones & The Six is not a real band. But I felt the same about Jackson Maine and Ally in A Star Is Born, Stillwater in Almost Famous, and Bad Blake in Crazy Heart – and still do.
I’ve said before that stories about and conversations between intrinsically flawed people are ultimately what the television-viewing and movie-going experience is all about, and this series is a gripping example of that. Daisy Jones & The Six serves as an important reminder that music truly is the thread that binds everyone – in the band, the series, the audience, and the world.