The TV adaptation of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s novel embraces and strengthens its source material.
“I’m not the muse, okay? I’m the somebody,” says the titular Daisy Jones in the first episode of Amazon Prime Video’s Daisy Jones & The Six. Over the ten-episode course of the miniseries, there’s an impressively concerted attempt to convince the audience that Daisy Jones, is indeed, the somebody. The problem is that the success of this goal depends on how much you can suspend your disbelief.
Conceptualised as a subtle homage to Fleetwood Mac, Daisy Jones & The Six is about a fictional ‘70s rock band that reaches unprecedented levels of success. The Six, beginning as a small-town garage band called The Dunne Brothers led by frontman Billy Dunne (Sam Claflin), eventually finds its free-spirited but troubled frontwoman, Daisy Jones (Riley Keough). While this addition brings the band to the forefront of public attention, it also leads to tensions within the band, particularly between the two leading members – likely intended to parallel the tensions between Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham.
The show partially adopts the interview-style format used in its source material, Taylor Jenkins Reid’s novel of the same name. We’re introduced to the characters while they’re being interviewed about the mysterious dissolution of the band 20 years ago. Unlike the book, however, the Amazon Prime adaptation was able to take a flexible approach to the format: on the one hand, we have the unique documentary style, but we also get to see flashbacks to the band in action. The result is something that can feel stunningly nostalgic and sentimental – if you can ignore the horrifying wig worn by Graham (Will Harrison) in the interview scenes, that is.
Overall, the show’s greatest success is its casting. The supporting cast – including Harrison, Camila Morrone, Suki Waterhouse, Josh Whitehouse, Sebastian Chacon and Nabiyah Be – provides tremendous value to both the storyline and aesthetic of the show. Additionally, Sam Claflin’s portrayal of Billy’s addiction and his struggle with his feelings for Daisy feels almost uncomfortable to watch because of how authentic it feels.
And then there’s Riley Keough. There’s a scene in the show’s second half, where Keough sits barefoot on the sun-drenched roof of a Greek villa. She’s in a long red dress, wearing Daisy’s signature gold hoops, smoking a cigarette. Something about her performance in that scene feels so animated, as if it were pulled straight from the book. Throughout the show, she captures Daisy’s impulsivity and selfishness, but also embodies her vulnerability in equal measure, and she seems to do so effortlessly.
But even Keough’s incredible performance, and the palpable chemistry between Daisy and Billy, is not enough to maintain the illusion that you’re witnessing the birth of one of the greatest bands in history. With every episode we hear more of the band’s discography, which ranges from mediocre to good, and yet we’re continuously informed of its objective brilliance. Daisy Jones & The Six breaks the cardinal “Show, don’t tell” rule from the outset, and yet, it’s trying so hard not to.
The show tries, at every juncture, to show us how remarkable this band is. As an audience, we sit in on the band’s studio sessions, we hear them talk about what the lyrics mean to them, we watch Daisy and Billy writing songs together, we watch them perform to a massive crowd screaming their lyrics along with them. The band’s 11-track album Aurora has even been released on Spotify. Admittedly, some songs on the album like Look at Us Now (Honeycomb) are clear standouts. Still, while the tensions within Daisy Jones & The Six are a worthy and fascinating tribute to the behind-the-scenes drama of Fleetwood Mac, the same can’t be said for the overall quality of the music. Despite all the valiant efforts to make this fictional band seem revolutionary, Regret Me is no Silver Springs.