‘Daisy Jones & The Six’ Is A Meticulously Made But Formulaic Rags-To-Riches Tale – TV Review

Prime Video

Prime Video brings the fictional 1970s rock band Daisy Jones & The Six to life in their new adaption of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s bestselling novel. The book, one of many of Reid’s to be adapted, is written as a series of interviews with the band some twenty years after their final gig. The ten-episode limited series does justice in expanding the mythology of this fictional band.

Set up narratively like an episode of VH1’s Behind The Music; we see the rise and fall of an iconic band through a series of talking heads and flashbacks of the events. Daisy Jones & The Six wears its Fleetwood Mac inspiration on its sleeve, clearly basing the main plot on the chemistry between Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks.

Daisy Jones & the Six introduces Margaret “Daisy” Jones, a young girl from a family who offer her money but not time or love. As she grows into an adult (played by Riley Keough, daughter to Lisa Marie Presley and granddaughter to Elvis), she dulls her senses to escape from the real world. She is a talented writer but, sadly, her own worst enemy as she searches for a sense of belonging in all the wrong places.

In Pittsburgh, we meet the Dunne Brothers, a jobbing band consisting of Billy Dunne (Sam Claflin), Graham Dunne (Will Harrison), Eddie Roundtree (Josh Whitehouse) and Warren Rhodes (Sebastian Chacon). They scraped by in the local scene, playing small gigs until they decided to move to LA. They are joined by keyboardist Karen Sirko (Suki Waterhouse) and change their name to The Six. The opening episodes hit the familiar beats of this genre. The talking head interviews promise the story is going somewhere else, but it never really does.

Prime Video

A chance encounter with Berry Gordy-esque music producer Teddy Price (Tom Wight) opens the doors to semi-stardom, but it’s the addition of Daisy Jones to the band that catapults them to fame and adoration. Mimicking Fleetwood Mac, the making of their most successful album led to their demise.

The fame and fortune bring all the expected turbulence, mimicking every Walk Hard-style music biopic you have ever seen. There is substance abuse, affairs and the general indulgence that comes with being in a 70s rock band. Billy Dunne’s wife Camila (Camila Morrone) is just some of the collateral damage of stardom and temptation. Compared to other films and TV shows, the hedonism feels pretty PG.

A character who gets a welcome expansion from the book is Daisy’s friend Simone (Nabiyah Be), who goes from the voice behind some of the biggest hits to a disco pioneer. They also give her a love interest and expand the singer to be more than just a sidekick to the white lead. Sometimes, it feels like her story is shoehorned into the show because she is so separate from the main narrative.

We keep getting told by talking heads that Daisy Jones & The Six are supposed to be the best band of the 70s. This means the writers of their music (Blake Mills alongside a team of creatives including Phoebe Bridgers, Marcus Mumford and Jackson Browne) have a big task that they don’t quite achieve. Audiences may have to suspend their belief that a band with songs that sound like this has become such a big thing.

Prime Video

Claflin and Keough provide their own vocals for the soundtrack and bring to life songs like “Look At Us Now (Honeycomb)” and “Regret Me.” The full 11-track Aurora album will be available when the show airs, but overall 24 original songs have been written and recorded by the cast. These songs are a mixed bag of quality, all of them a little too referential to Fleetwood Mac. It’s not helped that intertwined with original songs are iconic hits from Patti Smith, Lou Reed and The Who

Daisy Jones & The Six is held up by the production design. All the details from the sets, the costumes, and even the cars are meticulously assembled. Every shot looks like it comes from the pages of Rolling Stone magazine circa 1977. This feels like a tangible world that you can buy into. The performances feel so real you’ll want to stand up and cheer the band for an encore.

The series adaptation by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber is done a disservice by the insufficient writing and the lack of three-dimensional characters. The pacing is off, and it takes far too long to reach the point you know is coming. This ten-part series could easily be done in a shorter format, although it’s refreshing to see whole songs performed to let conversations breathe and tension arise. There aren’t any twists or turns, and anyone who has read or watched a single biography about a band from this era can foresee most plot points.

Asides from Billy, Karen and Daisy, the rest of the band are underdeveloped. They are wallpaper to the main story, meaning it’s hard to be as engaged and involved when they get their side plots. Sam Claflin is the most believable member of the band, embodying the charisma, looks and talent to be a worshipped musician.

Prime Video

Considering she is the title character, Riley Keough is quite bland in the role of the self-destructive Daisy. She looks the part but fails to really emotionally embody the character. Her chemistry with Billy is nowhere near the Buckingham-Nicks inspiration.

On the other hand, we have Suki Waterhouse and Camila Morrone, who both started their career as models and manage to command the screen every time they appear. These actresses embody the determined energy required to play women fighting their way through the 1970s entertainment industry.

Daisy Jones & The Six is a decent adaptation of the best-selling novel, as it is a well-made paint-by-numbers, rags-to-riches story that requires a little effort to enjoy. It’s clearly made by a team who loves the genre and the era, but you can’t help but wish the same time spent on the production details was dedicated to this script.

Daisy Jones & the Six premieres on Prime Video on March 3

by Amelia Harvey

Amelia is a freelance writer, frustrated novelist and occasional wrangling of international students. She is especially interested in LBGTQ culture and 1960s and 70s music. She also writes for Frame Rated, The People’s Movies and Unkempt Magazine, amongst others. Her favourite films include Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, Moulin Rouge and Closer. You can find her on Twitter @MissAmeliaNancy and letterboxd @amelianancy

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.