Reel Thoughts: Addictions, affairs and rivalries rock ‘Daisy Jones & The Six’


Illustration by Lily Ogburn

Amazon Prime transports viewers to the 1970s Southern California rock scene in its “Daisy Jones & The Six” adaptation.

Warning: This article contains mentions of a drug overdose. This article also contains spoilers. 

At exactly 11:03 p.m. on March 3, we settled in to watch the adaptation of our favorite summer read. We buzzed with just as much anxiety as excitement. Would Amazon Prime butcher “Daisy Jones & The Six”?  

Just over three weeks later, on the last night of Spring Break, we sobbed while watching the heartbreaking season finale, emotionally purged but pleased with the hit show. 

Based on the 2019 novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid, the 10-episode miniseries “Daisy Jones & The Six” depicts the rise and fall of a 1970s rock band loosely based on Fleetwood Mac. The chemistry of the group’s lead singers, Billy Dunne (Sam Claflin) and Daisy Jones (Riley Keough), sparks magic on stage, but burns too hot for the group to survive beyond its first album and tour.

As fans of Reid’s novel, we were nervous about the TV adaptation. The book is written as an oral history where transcriptions of interviews with the characters form the narrative, with little intervention from the interviewer. Part of the fun for the reader is figuring out where the truth lies and where biases cloud recollections. We were worried this ambiguity would be lost in the adaptation, but were pleasantly surprised this was not the case. The show keeps the conversational charm by including interview snippets and still shows characters as unreliable narrators. 

Structurally, we felt the pacing of the first few episodes was far too slow, but by Episode 5, the show hit its stride. And while we enjoyed Simone Jackson’s (Nabiyah Be) storyline in Episode 7, Daisy’s escapades in Greece drag on, making it feel like a throwaway episode. 

The show remained true to Reid’s original narrative with some notable exceptions, which we preferred for the most part. Camila Alvarez (Camila Morrone), Billy’s wife, sleeping with bassist Eddie Roundtree (Josh Whitehouse) instead of an unnamed figure from her past makes the affair more personal and sharpens Billy and Eddie’s rivalry. Billy finding Daisy as she overdoses on drugs in the shower, a scene from which he is absent in the book, restores their intimacy just as he is about to kick her out of the band. 

We were a little bummed to see Pete, the Six’s bassist in the book, removed from the adaptation, but the change ended up framing the band as three sets of foils. Karen Sirko (Suki Waterhouse) and Daisy represent the different ways women rose through the music industry at the time. While Karen tempers her femininity to be taken seriously, Daisy accentuates (and sometimes weaponizes) her sexuality. This dichotomy exemplifies the unique struggles women continue to face in the music industry. 

The Dunne brothers, Billy and guitarist Graham, represent dark versus light. Billy’s controlling frontman persona contrasts Graham’s warm, easy going personality. Ironically enough, Graham has always looked up to Billy, but Graham has all the qualities Billy desperately needed: stability, devotion and peace. 

Eddie and drummer Warren Rhodes (Sebastian Chacon) are ambition versus satisfaction, which the producers perfectly capture in later scenes. In Episode 10, Eddie tells Warren he’s leaving the band because he resents Billy for keeping him out of the spotlight, and Warren reminds him that they’re the biggest rock stars in the world. Warren ends up marrying a movie star while Eddie goes on to lead his own band that fails, showing it’s better to be content with your lot than to always wish for more.

We were apprehensive that the show’s music wouldn’t meet the standards for the biggest rock group in this fictional world. But, the 11 tracks on “Aurora,” the band’s first and only album, are genuinely impressive. The folk-rock songs have an Americana feel with plucky guitar riffs and tambourines that bring to mind deserts, outlaws and rattlesnakes. That dry fire is occasionally met with a softness that flows like water, reflecting moments of clarity in Billy and Daisy’s struggles with addiction and heartache. 

Blake Mills, the show’s executive music producer, recruited a stacked set of artists, including Marcus Mumford, Phoebe Bridgers and 1970s rocker Jackson Browne, to write the music. Fleetwood Mac’s influence is obvious. That was intentional, according to the album’s liner notes, especially in songs like “Look at Us Now (Honeycomb),” whose intro and bridge are eerily similar to Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain.”  Keough does a fantastic job emulating Stevie Nicks on stage in her wardrobe, wild twirls and haunting vocals. Each time Daisy meets Billy at his mic, we felt the same electricity Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham created.

Although Claflin has stunning onstage chemistry with Keough, we found the 36-year-old actor too old to play a 20-something rockstar. We were frequently distracted from the story when he appeared on camera. Perhaps it was the childhood attachment we have to his character Finnick from “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” but it took almost the entire season for us to believe Claflin as Billy. 

We also wanted to see more of Karen and Graham. Daisy and Billy’s tormented love constantly overshadows the sweet romance of the keyboardist and lead guitarist. 

We missed the complicated conversation between Camila and Daisy after the band’s last show, too. Their on-screen relationship lacks the tension Reid included, especially during the book’s climax. Yet, we were still pleased to see that Daisy has more agency in the adaptation with her final decision to let Billy go.

Criticisms aside, we have to give the producers credit for successfully adapting a beloved book and transporting viewers to the 1970s Southern California rock scene. Costume designers captured ’70s fashion without falling into the 2010s boho aesthetic, and the music emulated Fleetwood Mac without sounding like a caricature of classics. 

After seeing Whitehouse’s cryptic TikTok about post-wrap rehearsals, we’re hoping the band will make a live debut soon. And, if Daisy Jones & The Six does perform this summer, we’ll be front-row.  

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @AudreyHettleman

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @JennaAnderson_1

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