Courtesy of Penguin Random House

April 12, 2023

Missing the Beat: A Review of the Mini Series Daisy Jones and the Six

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Based on Taylor Jenkins Reid’s novel of the same name, the limited mini series Daisy Jones and the Six premiered on Amazon Prime Video in March. The show and book mostly have the same plot: the rise and fall of a 1970s rock band, loosely based on Fleetwood Mac. Like the book, the TV show is formatted as a documentary — as the characters are interviewed, they reminisce on their time in the band. As with most book-to-screen adaptations, I personally preferred the book over the show.

The band first started as “The Dunne Brothers,” created by Billy Dunne (Sam Claflin) and his brother Graham (Will Harrison) with a group of friends in high school out of their garage. After years of being unknown, the band finally started to gain traction, but it is not until Daisy Jones (Riley Keough) joins that they really reach stardom. 

While Daisy made the band what it is and wrote the song that made them famous, much of the show and book focus on the love-hate relationship between Daisy and Billy. Daisy and Billy both have dramatic personalities, and they clash as they both see themselves as the head of the band. They go back and forth between liking, loving and hating each other, which honestly became confusing at times. As someone who read the book before watching the show, I don’t remember their relationship being as confusing in the book, maybe in part because we didn’t get their full story in the book like we do in the show. 

There is a clear contrast between the narrators in the book, as all of the members of the band tell their own versions of what happened. With so many characters telling the story, the book is prone to unreliable narration, while the mini-series shows the audience what really happened. The show establishes what the characters are like early on, and then goes back to show how they became this way. Some of them are easygoing and happy, like Warren Rhodes (Sebastian Chacon), while some are more matter-of-fact and take a less emotional approach, like keyboardist Karen Sirko (Suki Waterhouse). Some look back nostalgically like Graham, while Daisy and Billy take the most emotional approach, showing the audience that what happened hurt and still hurts. 

The nature of Daisy and Billy’s relationship was unclear throughout the book, as Daisy and Billy were both unreliable narrators. Most of their relationship was left up to the reader’s interpretation, which I think is what helped make the book so popular, while the TV show more clearly defines their relationship. Daisy and Billy kiss in episode six of the show, but in the book, Daisy supposedly leaned in for a kiss and Billy pulled away. It seems risky to make such a dramatic change in the show that could cause differences in the plot, but the producers handled the risk by having Billy say that he only kissed Daisy to get her back into the studio. 

It was a bit disappointing that the TV show turned the novel, which focused mostly on the band, into a condensed love triangle between Billy, Daisy and Billy’s wife, Camila (Camila Morrone). There is so much more to the band than just Daisy and Billy’s relationship, and the show loses the potential there had been in the book’s split-timeline setup. It wouldn’t have hurt to have a few scenes showing Graham, Warren, Eddie and Karen in the studio without Daisy and Billy. These characters are all important too, and showing them without Daisy and Billy directing everything would have expanded them beyond just the background characters who like to party and play backup for Daisy and Billy. 

The documentary style could have been more useful as well, since the characters being interviewed usually didn’t have much to say or just repeated what we already saw in the previous scenes. Using the interview style to investigate the band members’ different memories about what happened could have made the story much more intriguing and fleshed out the characters’ conceptions of themselves and each other. 

Still, the show had its redeeming qualities, the music being a big highlight for me. The show released a full album, AURORA, which is the album the band was touring in the show. On the announcement of AURORA, Reid said in a statement, “We finally have AURORA. A stunning, nostalgic, timeless album that captures the drama, pathos, and yearning of the band’s zenith and nadir all in one.” 

The soundtrack of the band is all original songs, featuring contributions from Phoebe Bridgers, Jackson Browne, Marcus Mumford and more. The lead producer and songwriter for the album was Blake Mills. “AURORA represents the pinnacle of a short-lived recording career. It also serves as proof — for both the fictional band and the real one who dreamed this up together — that pouring your heart and soul into something you believe in can have a profound effect on the rest of your life,” shared co-writer and executive producer Scott Neustadter.

The show and the music certainly capture the glamorous, bohemian atmosphere of the 70s, but left something to be desired in connecting with the characters. What Jenkins Reid did successfully was create this beautiful landscape as a backdrop for the story, and then also made us care about the characters who lived the story. I loved the book, so I’m happy the show was made, but in the end I would choose the book over the show. 

It is difficult to work backwards from a hit as big as the book, as well as the story of a band becoming a hit. After all, the band was supposed to be a groundbreaking, genre-smashing group of people drawn together by their undeniable talent and dazzling, if not slightly problematic, personalities. How do you showcase a group of stars that have already been shown to be so world-dominatingly talented? How can any other portrayal ever live up to these expectations and the story already created for them? The TV show was an enjoyable watch with some catchy songs and an aesthetically pleasing environment, but this kind of stardom is nearly impossible to simulate.

Freya Nangle is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected].