Every band goes through growing pains, and the ones that get very big typically experience some sort of monumental event that threatens their very existence. Members may go on to have solo careers after early departures from the group, and the appeal of a reunion can be irresistible for fans, even if those who actually have to come back together may require considerably more convincing. There may be too much drama to overcome, but negative memories are still often fascinating to hear. Daisy Jones and the Six captures the glory and the complicated dynamics of one fictional 1970s band.
Prime Video’s new limited series is presented in documentary format with manufactured archival footage mixed in, telling the story of a rock band featuring singers Daisy Jones (Riley Keough) and Billy Dunne (Sam Claflin) that peaked in 1977 when it was at the height of its popularity. A packed concert at Soldier’s Field in Chicago marked the last performance of the group, setting up the central mystery for what happened to cause them to disband. Decades later, members speak to the camera about what made the band and ultimately broke it.
Though Taylor Jenkins Reid’s 2019 novel of the same name is not based on any one true story, it does draw its inspiration from real groups like Fleetwood Mac. Like in Cameron Crowe’s superb 2000 film Almost Famous, these characters and their music do feel like products of the era, more than just generic representatives of the evolution of genre and prevailing cultural forces of the time. Someone could easily watch this series and think they were watching a dramatic recreation of an actual band’s history.
The look of Daisy Jones and the Six contributes heavily to its effectiveness, with purposeful camerawork to mimic the 1970s and hairstyles and outfits that distinctly ground it in that memorable decade. There’s also a difference in how the band members look and talk when they come back to be interviewed, and those subtle changes indicate not only the passage of time but also an adjustment of attitude aided by resentment, nostalgia, and the mere fact of being older in a generation that interacts with new technology and other advances.
Creators Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber have a long history of working together that informs the style and tone of their latest project. Their past screenplays include 500 Days of Summer, The Spectacular Now, The Disaster Artist, and Rosaline, and they previously collaborated on the short-lived NBC sitcom Friends with Benefits. Their newest TV series is far more serious and focused, and they are able to successfully blend comedic wit with dramatic storytelling, making the issues of this band feel three-dimensional and complex. At the same time, those problems are laced with lightheartedness that, especially upon retrospection, makes them feel alternatively massive and hardly worth remembering.
At the head of this strong cast is Keough, who inherited musical talent from her famous Presley relatives and has more than proven herself with impressive performances in American Honey, Zola, and the TV series The Girlfriend Experience. She brings a superb energy to the band’s namesake which transforms over the course of her own development. Another standout is Camila Morrone, who has wowed film festival audiences with projects like Never Goin’ Back and Mickey and the Bear, and Timothy Olyphant adds considerable comedy in an amusing supporting role. Music fans will enjoy this premise, which can be appreciated by all audience in search of a solid drama with just enough humor and musical assistance to make it a very worthwhile watch.
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The first three episodes of Daisy Jones and the Six premiere Friday, March 3rd on Prime Video, with multiple new episodes dropping every Friday through March 24th.