The concept behind Daisy Jones & The Six—an imaginary Behind The Music for a fantasy Fleetwood Mac—is such a slam-dunk it’s surprising no one’s attempted it before. Reality provided Taylor Jenkins Reid with the bones of the story; all she had to do was fill in the blanks for her best-selling novel. Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine and Prime Video stepped in, seeing the wisdom in putting those words to music and giving that band faces. And thankfully for old fans and newcomers alike, the series (which premieres March 3) succeeds in doing both.
Sam Claflin’s Billy Dunne is the second coming of Almost Famous’ Russell Hammond (Billy Crudup), and Riley Keough, an honest-to-god rock ’n’ roll heiress, suits the role of Daisy Jones so well it’s like she was born in the wrong decade. Billy is dreamy, brooding, and ambitious. Daisy is selfish, vibrant, and free-spirited. They’re the supernova at the heart of the series, and the electricity is evident between them every time they share a microphone, no matter how they feel about each other offstage. (Keough is particularly excellent in spitfire mode, lashing out and cracking Billy’s stoic demeanor.) Of course, Billy has a wife at home (Camila Morrone), adding an illicit edge to their personal relationship even as their creative partnership flourishes.
Honorable mentions go to Nabiyah Be as Simone, whose queer disco side plot threatens to be more interesting than the main event, and Timothy Olyphant, who seems so completely comfortable in this setting that it’s a shame his charming tour manager Rod is missing for many of the middle episodes. If the rest of the supporting cast tends to feel one-note, the writing is as much to blame—if not more so—as the performances. Daisy Jones is a rock ’n’ roll fable, and its characters are rock ’n’ roll archetypes: the disgruntled bassist whos discontented playing backup; the angelic, martyred musician’s wife; the addict bandleaders constantly spinning towards each other and out of control. There are few genuine surprises in the series, as all of these figures feel locked into their predetermined paths from the first episode. But a large part of the fun is just being along for the ride, even if its twists and turns feel familiar.
This is the kind of enterprise that would fall apart if the fictional band’s actual songs weren’t good, but the music is solid enough to support the group’s rise to fame. (“Look At Us Now [Honeycomb],” the outfit’s first hit, shares DNA with Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain,” in case you forgot for a second who inspired this whole thing.) Book sticklers may miss some of the specifics of the novel’s songwriting, but songwriter and producer Blake Mills—with assists from artists like Marcus Mumford, Phoebe Bridgers, and Jackson Browne—has crafted tracks that honor the spirit of Jenkins Reid’s work while being even better suited to the story told onscreen.
As an adaptation, the series is a success, thanks to the competent work of creators Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber and Neustadter’s co-showrunner Will Graham. Anything jettisoned from the source material is barely missed, and what’s brought to life exists even more vibrantly than on the page. If anything, the show could have taken more liberties with the text to build upon the novel’s narrative. While the ’70s were The Six’s “moment,” we wish the show expanded upon its big plot point to really land the finale’s flash forward, for example.
The mockumentary format is perhaps Daisy Jones’ biggest misstep. It works best when the present-day band members are contradicting each other, the memories the audience has seen, or both. But this delicious tension is exploited all too infrequently in favor of dialogue-free talking-head moments filled with eye-rolls, grimaces, or Warren’s (Sebastian Chacon) affable giggle. Attempts to make the actors look decades older in these shots rely mostly on wigs and sometimes just straightening their hair. (For instance, there is little distinguishing Morrone as a 25-year-old and her decades later.) Still, the interviews slot in pretty seamlessly with the rest of the show, and the faux doc does serve a narrative purpose (though your mileage may vary).
None of these minor flaws detract from the show’s considerable charms, however. What you see is what you get with this miniseries, and what you get is a straightforwardly good time. The ensemble clearly had lots of fun together, which translates to a delightful viewing experience. And the ’70s-era costumes and set design draw the audience into its world of sex, drugs, and, yes, rock ’n’ roll. Most especially, the love story at the center is compelling enough that viewers won’t want to miss a moment of its highs and lows. Much like its titular fictional band, Daisy Jones & The Six is destined to be a crowd-pleaser.
Daisy Jones & The Six premieres March 3 on Prime Video