This March, “Daisy Jones & The Six” transported viewers to the vibrant 1970s music scene. The miniseries, based on Taylor Jenkins Reid’s 2019 novel about a band of the same name, does a commendable job of capturing the drama-filled moments readers have been waiting to see on screen. The documentary-style series incorporates present-day interviews and flashbacks to Daisy Jones & The Six’s glory days, exposing the story behind the band’s rise to fame and ultimate demise.
The first three episodes of the series were released March 3 on Amazon Prime Video alongside the fictional band’s album “Aurora.” Though the album was less than impressive, the show adds a thrilling dimension to a story beloved by many readers, bringing the novel’s characters to life and compelling listeners to find a new appreciation for its songs.
The first episode details the group’s origins in Pittsburgh. They emerged as a high school boy band called “The Dunne Brothers,” made up of lead singer Billy Dunne (Sam Claflin), Billy’s brother and three friends. After finding little fame performing at proms and small weddings, the band decides to move to Los Angeles to try and make it big.
L.A. brings on a wave of changes –– the band starts booking bigger sets and onboards keyboardist Karen Sirko (Suki Waterhouse). Following the departure of Chuck Loving (Jack Romano), Billy’s wife, Camila Alverez (Camila Morrone) becomes the band’s unofficial sixth member, working behind the scenes to support her bandmates. Eventually, the band settles on a new name, “The Six,” and after a chance encounter with famous producer Teddy Price (Tom Wright), they finally get their big break.
Throughout the show, Billy struggles with infidelity and addiction. After his substance abuse causes him to miss the birth of his daughter, he decides to go to rehab and the band’s first tour is canceled. But after a few months’ hiatus, the band decides to come together again, this time with a new addition –– free-spirited and flighty Daisy Jones (Riley Keough). Daisy’s influence brings Billy’s songwriting to new levels, shifting his hopeful lyrics into something darker and motivated by raw emotion. Daisy’s effect on the band’s music foreshadows her influence on the band: the initial fame she brings for The Six quickly disintegrates, strained by the romantic tension she shares with Billy.
One of the most captivating elements of the show is Keough and Claflin’s on-point portrayal of their characters. Keough perfectly actualizes Daisy’s carefree and confident persona. In pure Daisy fashion, Keough is most alluring when she is performing. Her stage presence appears so natural that viewers almost forget that Keough is only acting as the frontwoman of the decade’s biggest band. Next to Keough, Claflin’s gripping performance breathes life into a tortured artist. Where Keough excels in embodying Daisy's larger-than-life nature, Claflin is adept at capturing his character’s subtle emotions.
The show makes a few departures from the novel, but most of the choices preserve the emotional quality of the plot while adding a new level of intrigue to the story. One character that receives more screen time is Daisy’s best friend and disco icon Simone Jackson (Nabiyah Be). While the novel’s version of Simone primarily serves as Daisy’s sidekick, she shines in the show. Her added relationship and partnership with a DJ named Bernie (Ayesha Harris) helps illuminate obstacles LGBTQ+ artists faced in the 1970s and continue to face today. Jackson’s storyline adds depth to the miniseries, which may have otherwise become too saturated in petty drama and trivial rockstar woes.
One of the most obvious differences between the show and its source material is that the interviews in the series are set only 20 years after the band splits — rather than the novel’s 40-year time jump. This is an interesting twist because the events of the band’s tour are fresher in the minds of the characters. Thus, their diverging accounts of what happened are less likely a matter of misremembering and more an issue of distorted narratives. The change encourages audiences to question the honesty of each character, which is what makes the show’s concept so compelling — you never know what the truth is.
Still, the unreliability of the narrators is a far more prevalent theme in the book, and the show fails to match this level of nuance. One of the biggest unanswered questions throughout the novel is whether or not Billy and Daisy actually have an affair during their time in the band. Though it may be unsatisfying for readers to never find out the truth, this obscurity reinforces the idea that the characters have things to hide, which makes them all the more interesting. This is not the case in the show, as Billy and Daisy share a kiss outside the studio after getting into a fight about their song “More Fun to Miss.” By bringing their romantic feelings into the light, the show loses a level of mystique and complexity.
More generally, the show’s plot also feels rushed. As with many television adaptations of books, parts are removed or underdeveloped to condense everything into a single season. Important elements of the storyline, like Daisy’s journey as an independent musician before meeting The Six or Billy’s battle with addiction, are never fully explored. But it is still fun to watch the songs and characters from a beloved novel come to life on the screen. Ultimately, the show offers a passionate and meaningful portrayal of battling one’s desires and fighting for one’s voice to be heard.
The final two episodes of “Daisy Jones & The Six” air Friday on Amazon Prime Video.
Daphne is an Arts & Culture writer from Austin, Texas. She is planning on studying International and Public Affairs. Her passions include cats, running and Phoebe Bridgers.