In the third episode of Daisy Jones & The Six, during the recording of the band’s first hit single “Look At Us Now (Honeycomb),” you can’t help but feel like you really are watching musical magic happen. Despite Daisy and Billy (Riley Keough and Sam Claflin, a match made in heaven) engaging in songwriting warfare and the rest of the band already getting caught in the crossfire, it truly feels like fictional band Daisy Jones & The Six are something special.
Based on the novel of the same name by Taylor Jenkins Reid, and brought to the small screen by co-showrunners Scott Neustadter and Will Graham, Prime Video’s Daisy Jones & The Six catalogs the cosmic collision of homegrown band The Six (which only consists of five members, it’s a thing) and magnetic songwriter Daisy Jones, beginning with the end of the line—in October of 1977, Daisy Jones & The Six played a sold out Soldier Field in Chicago, only to never set foot on stage together again. Rewinding from there to The Six’s humble beginnings, the series follows frontman Billy Dunne, his wife and photographer Camila (Camila Morrone), guitarist Graham (Will Harrison), pianist Karen (Suki Waterhouse), bassist Eddie (Josh Whitehouse), and drummer Warren (Sebastion Chacon) as they follow their dreams all the way out to Los Angeles, where music producer Teddy Price (Tom Wright) links them with Daisy to create one of the most legendary bands of the ‘70s. In a mix of documentary-style interviews and narrative dramatization, Daisy Jones & The Six follows the band as they build themselves from the ground up, only to tear themselves down piece by piece.
Most importantly, Daisy Jones & The Six shines in its central performances—both dramatically and musically. Keough and Claflin are electric in their respective roles, perfectly portraying two individuals as they simultaneously self-destruct and thrive both with and without each other. Daisy and Billy are brash and unlikeable at times, but the charisma that emanates from both Keough and Claflin always keeps you in their corner, especially as they inject tangible humanity into two characters that are truly larger than life. Additionally, Morrone perfectly captures the elation and heartbreak of life as a rockstar’s wife, and Waterhouse, Harrison, Whitehouse, and Chacon each deliver as the rest of The Six. And while she may not be in the series as much as her peers, Nabiyah Be steals every single scene she’s in as Simone, a disco pioneer with enough charisma and talent to light up any stage.
And light up the stage they all do. The vocals on each of Aurora’s tracks—the band’s last (and most successful) album, which is also available for real-life streaming and purchase—are great, and wonderfully capture the ‘70s rock sound they were aiming for. Every extended musical performance in the series is a joy to watch, whether it be on a grand stage or in the studio. The group truly do feel like a real band, especially since the actors themselves each took on the task of learning their instruments and playing real shows together for the crew working on the series. The commitment to their musical craft reads beautifully on screen, and goes a long way in selling not only what will be many real-life records, but the true tangible connection between these people—both musically and personally.
However, where Daisy Jones & The Six falls flat is in its central framing device. Usually, in a real documentary about a real band, the talking-head interview clips would be used to primarily tell the story, but in this TV show about a fake band, that is the opposite of what needs to happen; you don’t want the voice-over to overshadow the actual storyline being weaved in the narrative segments. So instead, the interview clips are more reminiscent of Jim looking into the camera on The Office, telling the audience how to react to certain moments, reiterating how a character feels despite being able to clearly read that information from the scene itself, and ultimately undercutting the narrative more often than not. The few moments where it works are when the characters in the present directly contradict their past actions in their retelling or there’s a particularly biting bit of voice-over work, but those are few and far between. The series’ ending, which features a better look at the band 20 years in the future (with “aging effects” so subtle that it feels like they didn’t even try), gives purpose to the interview clips, but it’s an odd ending at best, and certainly not enough to change the lackluster utilization of the interview segments.
In spite of its bizarre ending and lackluster framing device, Daisy Jones & The Six is still incredibly entertaining, and weaves a meaningful story throughout its 10-episode run (all of which were available for review). The series’ engagement with the era and the more nuanced issues of gender, sexuality, and race are interesting (if sometimes surface level), but the way Daisy Jones & The Six explores the price of fame, the price of dreams, and the price of artistry is really captivating, and showcases the true cost better than most real biopics manage to. The destructive relationship between Billy and Daisy also allows the series to explore addiction in its many forms: substance abuse, of course (it takes place in the ‘70s, after all), but also addiction to your own implosion. The final episode’s title, “Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide,” feels emblematic of the series as a whole, capturing the life and death of Daisy Jones & The Six in what reads like a documentary-style obituary for the band, but a celebration of life for those within it. And yet still, filled as it is with self-destruction and heartbreak at its core, Daisy Jones & The Six manages to find a hope and lust for life along the way as well.
This series is perfect for fans of rock music—particularly Fleetwood Mac, the band that inspired the original story written by Reid—and musical biopics, or simply anyone looking for a grounded series about the decidedly not-grounded life of rock superstardom. It’s uncertain how it will land for fans of the original novel, but for myself and others experiencing the series without knowledge of the book, Daisy Jones & The Six captures everything you could ever want from this series: a hazy ‘70s daydream that simmers to a blazing, drug-infused musical inferno. In contrast to the slighted feelings that inspired “Regret Me,” another of Daisy and Billy’s musical musket rounds, audiences watching Daisy Jones & The Six will certainly not regret the time spent with the world’s biggest, most legendary band and the stories they have to tell.
Daisy Jones & The Six debuts with a three-episode premiere March 3rd on Prime Video, with subsequent batches of episodes airing weekly.
Anna Govert is an entertainment writer based in middle-of-nowhere Indiana. For any and all thoughts about TV, film, and the wonderful insanity of Riverdale, you can follow her @annagovert.
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