Spoilers ahead for Daisy Jones & the Six.
The first three episodes of Daisy Jones and the Six are now streaming on Amazon Prime Video, so shake down the service for that free Prime Student membership while it lasts.
Taylor Jenkins Reid fans have been waiting for this moment since the author released her book of the same name in 2019. But Jenkins Reid is also known for her other novels, including Malibu Rising and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. Centered around a fictional Fleetwood Mac-adjacent 70s rock band, this series follows their fast upward trajectory before their equally sudden downfall.
It all begins with a depiction of the bandmates’ lives before they come together one fateful day in a Los Angeles recording studio. Billy Dunne (Sam Claflin) is the talented – albeit cocksure – frontman of his Pittsburgh-based band, originally called The Dunne Brothers. Claflin has a boyish charm that makes his role as a bewitching rockstar a no-brainer, even if he can never fully get that American accent down. *Insert the sugar cube scene from Hunger Games: Catching Fire*
If you know, you know.
When the band is just getting started, Billy meets a striking woman named Camila at the laundromat (Camila Morrone) and promises to write her a song in exchange for her number. Surprisingly, this pickup line actually works. From then on, Camila becomes the band’s biggest cheerleader and eventually marries Billy, a decision they make on a whim when they find out she is pregnant.
In the series, I found myself frustrated at Camila’s unwavering loyalty to Billy. In the book, she is not complacent and she holds Billy accountable when he acts out, but her TV counterpart is willing to let things slide in order to keep their family together. Leaning into the typical rock 'n’ roll lifestyle, Billy’s addictions to drinking and drugs cause him to do things that would theoretically ruin any relationship. Still, Camila is loyal to a fault and never considers leaving him. Many fans of the book have expressed concern that the series is not doing the strong and likable Camila character justice, but I think she redeemed herself by slapping some sense into Billy. Pun intended.
The titular character of Daisy Jones is played by Elvis Presley’s granddaughter Riley Keough. She’s a tortured soul that doesn’t take no for an answer, even though life has bogged her down time and time again. More importantly, she’s a gifted songwriter with a soulful voice that attracts the likes of music producer Teddy Price (Tom Wright), who has already been working with the band. In the book, Daisy is hard to love. She is hardheaded and facing her own demons, but Keough brings a sincerity to the role that cannot be understated. After all, rock 'n’ roll is in her blood, and her Daisy certainly has the feel of a young ingénue who will take the world by storm.
It isn’t until the final 20 minutes of episode three that exciting possibilities for the show begin to shine through. When Teddy calls Daisy into the studio to record a song with the band, now established as The Six, Billy unsurprisingly objects. From their first interaction, it's easy to see that he and Daisy are both stubborn characters, but they challenge each other in a way that forces both parties to acknowledge their shortcomings.
After some coaxing from Teddy, Billy finally agrees to record with Daisy. When they start belting it out to “Look at Us Now (Honeycomb),” sharing a microphone with inches between their faces, the bubble of tension bursts and there is no denying their chemistry. While this moment of musical magic is a crucial turning point for the band that will eventually become Daisy Jones and the Six, it also means a lot of people are going to get hurt, namely Camila.
The show’s unique style, a mockumentary depicting events before and after the group’s inception with talking heads in between, does not make for a completely seamless transition to the small screen. At many points, the interviews merely restate the subject matter of the previous scenes with a slightly less evocative payoff. And some of the actors, meant to be aged 20 years, don’t look noticeably different with the exception of some makeup and a different hairstyle. If you can get past that, however, then the interviews make for an interesting refresher from the dramatic storyline.
The 70s costumes, however, are perfect. Bell-bottom jeans, long denim skirts and lots of oranges, browns and cool patterns. The songs, both ballads and rock numbers, have also been catchy and reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac’s iconic sound. “Two Against Three” is a heartbreaking song about seemingly unobtainable love, where Keough’s voice is on full display, stripped down with only the lulling sounds of an acoustic guitar. On the opposite end of the spectrum, “Look Me in the Eye” is led by Claflin, who channels pivotal rock 'n’ roll voices like Tom Petty and Led Zeppelin. For Claflin and Keough being new to the craft of singing, they sure know how to hold a tune.
There is always a risk in adapting a novel into a movie or series. Fans of the book will inevitably compare the new creation to the original and harp on any detail that has been changed or removed entirely. The disappointing reality is that some details conveyed through writing simply cannot be adapted to the screen, which might be a hard pill to swallow for loyal fans as episodes continue to drop.
Still, Daisy Jones and the Six builds momentum by the end of the third episode, though the jampacked exposition makes it take a while to get there. With seven episodes to go, there is lots of time for the show to break our hearts and (hopefully) put them back together. I, for one, am excited to see where it leads.
New episodes of Daisy Jones and the Six drop every Friday until March 24 on Prime Video. The cast-recorded album, “AURORA” is also available to stream on Apple Music and Spotify.
Thumbnail image courtesy of Lacey Terrell / Prime Video.