Taylor Jenkins Reid’s book Daisy Jones & The Six is, at its simplest, about a fictional ’70s rock band struggling along the road leading to eventual success. At its more complex, compelling core lies a story about a Fleetwood Mac-esque band at the height of its fame dealing with the fallout of the tumultuous relationships between its members. The book is told through interviews with the band members, conducted decades after the band’s break up, and sees them recounting their time in the spotlight. In the show, we see the members interviewed in a documentary style. It’s a gimmick that works most of the time (aside from the minimal efforts to make the actors look like they’ve aged at all), and these first three episodes give us some much-needed context as to who these people are.
Speaking of the people, one thing the show got right without a shadow of a doubt is the casting. Billy Dunne, the band’s lead singer and guitarist, played by Sam Claflin, is today’s answer to Billy Crudup in Almost Famous. He’s charming, talented, and brimming with emotion – within minutes of meeting him, the audience is sold on Billy Dunne as a frontman. Riley Keough is Daisy Jones, and her version of the titular rocker is nearly perfect, selling every bit of conviction and emotion necessary to get the audience to care about her story.
The show is, by far, at its best when it lets the two of them do the talking.
The shallow replication of the aesthetics of the ’70s is enough to draw the audience into the world of Daisy Jones & The Six, but the at times equally empty plot of the first few episodes isn’t always enough to keep the audience hooked. It’s a shame to see the wasted potential of these first few episodes, mainly because the introduction of their humble beginnings was handled so remarkably in the novel. The first two episodes have a few pacing problems as we jump back and forth between Daisy’s and the band’s growth. It feels like ages before we see the two collide, but with so much time spent on this part of the story, it still doesn’t feel like we learn much.
In the book, we go deeper into what makes Daisy tick and what pisses her off. We are told about her anger at being sidelined and seen as nothing more than a muse. While we briefly see that touched upon in the show, we aren’t given enough time to understand that Daisy is a one-of-a-kind talent deserving of this indignance. As for the formation of The Six, the show takes some confusing liberties (such as completely erasing a character’s existence) that don’t make sense.
Riley Keough and Sam Claflin’s chemistry is palpable and electric. Their immediate bickering when they first meet is a sign of what’s to come in their relationship, professionally and, more importantly, personally. Camila (Camila Morrone), Billy’s wife and mother of his child, is a caring and supportive wife. She has chemistry with Sam Claflin, but it’s clear as the episodes go on that Billy and Daisy are the show’s stars, literally and metaphorically. Their spark outshines that of Billy and his wife, a fuse just waiting to be lit, ready to blow up the life Camila is trying to make for them.
As for the rest of the band, we don’t get to see as much of them as we should, especially with more fantastic casting. Karen Sirko (Suki Waterhouse), the band’s British bombshell drummer, Graham Dunne (Will Harrison), Billy’s brother and lead guitarist, Warren Rhodes (Sebastian Chacon), and Eddie Roundtree (Josh Whitehouse) make up the other members of The Six. While they have a more significant role in later series episodes, the first three episodes find them mostly relegated to one-liners in the interviews and emotional support for Billy.
We get to hear the band play in flashbacks to their start in Pittsburgh when they were still going by The Dunne Brothers and working without the late addition Karen, and the music is good. However, it’s clear that they began working better together after the name change and moved to California. The brief moments when we see them perform help sell the fact that this band eventually became one of the biggest bands in the world during the ’70s.
The adaptation is by no means perfect, but if these first three episodes are a sign of what’s to come, the lofty expectations set by the novel’s killer story will likely be met. With solid performances, enviable ’70s fashion, catchy rock music, and a compelling start to an explosive story, it seems that Daisy Jones & The Six is ready to take the world by storm.