If you’ve ever been a die-hard fan of bands, you know that few things are more heartbreaking than hearing about your favorite group splitting up. Taylor Jenkins Reid has always been interested in this phenomenon of members suddenly disbanding for unknown, mysterious reasons, and explores this in her best-selling fiction book, Daisy Jones and The Six. Exposing the messy rock ‘n’ roll scene in the ’70s, the novel also takes its music to life in Amazon Prime’s TV adaptation of it. Here is how they compare to each other:
Multiple perspectives in novels are far from uncommon, but Taylor Jenkins Reid reinvents the wheel by using only transcribed interviews of different characters in her narrative. Years after their rock star days have passed, the characters reminisce about their past by recounting their versions of events to an interviewer. There is no objective third-person point-of-view, which creates more intrigue about how certain events unfold. With only verbal accounts of events, the he-said-she-said discordance makes the reader question the veracity of everyone and everything: What is the actual truth, and who’s obfuscating it?
The events the characters recount take place in the heart of Hollywood in the ’70s, focusing on the frenzied lifestyles of those in the entertainment industry. Daisy Jones, the daughter of a famous French model and British painter, longs to find meaning in her life—until she discovers her passion for singing and songwriting. She reluctantly joins an up-and-coming band called The Six comprising lead singer Billy Dunne and his brother Graham Dunne as the lead guitarist, keyboardist Karen Sirko, bassist Eddie Roundtree, and drummer Warren Rojas. Drama immediately ensues as they frequently bicker over minuscule inconveniences and creative differences. However, this is also where all their love for music and their personal struggles get propelled into the spotlight. Reid doesn’t hold back from showing the chaotic realm of drugs, sex, and rock music.
Going on a tremulous journey of addiction and coping with fame, Billy and Daisy are drawn to each other in ways they shouldn’t be, especially with his wife, Camila Dunne, in the picture. Camila is portrayed as a determined, confident character that holds her own when it comes to struggling with interpersonal issues, but also acts as the band’s confidante. It’s a refreshing change from all the typical jealous and doting wife narratives that are often present in novels with romance in them. Reid knows how to weave a captivating narrative that takes place in a glamorous celebrity’s world. Daisy Jones walks the line between showing her authentic self through songwriting and singing, and masking all that with her partying and unhealthy escapist habits. Billy sees himself in her but is afraid that Daisy’s self-destructive lifestyle might catapult him back to square one due to his past issues. Even with all the fame, achievements, and being the number one band in the world, their struggles with mental health take a turn for the worst behind the scenes:
“…the only reason people thought I had everything is because I had all things you can see. I had none of the things you can’t.”
I do think that the majority of the characters are not as multidimensional as I’d usually like, however, I think that’s just the limitation that comes with the format of the narrative. On top of that, things started getting a little repetitive, and I finished the book thinking the plot was missing a slight flair, despite having enjoyed it and liked the ending.
Overall, this is a digestible and entertaining read that makes it easy to get invested in, and if you have a love for drama and emotional aspects that we often hear about regarding the celebrity world, this book is for you.
Unlike the book, the TV adaptation spins the subjective narrative into a more objective, clear-cut one. There is hardly any room for misinterpretation when the series shows events from a third-person perspective, something that the book contrastingly hones in on. While still making use of the oral history approach in the form of an interview, it rarely plays a significant role in the retelling of events as it appears sparingly.
The highlight of the show is the music of Daisy Jones and The Six, and I am personally quite impressed with their sound, although they don’t quite capture the archetypal rock ‘n’ roll sound. The set pieces and overall production design also complement this and are characterized by a nostalgic feel, and the outfits especially hammer down that “old school” rock band vibe. Daisy and Billy’s voices (Riley Keough and Sam Claflin’s) harmonize seamlessly, and the soundtracks blend well with appropriate mood. A few lyrics written in the novel have been tweaked for the script but they don’t detract from the meat of the songs. Some fan favorites are “Look At Us Now (Honeycomb)” and “Let Me Down Easy,” an unanticipated pop sound that is pleasant to the ear, yet not that authentic to the band’s groovy aesthetic.
Billy and Daisy had the exact kind of chemistry you’d imagine from reading the book, especially on stage— but the dialogue just feels a bit too spelled out at times. For example, there was a specific scene where Billy and Daisy talk about each other’s “brokenness,” and that feels too artificial, especially since their actions speak for themselves. Whereas the novel veers into the dark side of the music industry more, the adaptation overall focuses on drawn-out, melodramatic scenes of interpersonal mayhem.
Some of the changes in the adaptation are understandable and suitable for the medium. The characters are represented accurately for the most part, and I love how we get to see a much more fleshed-out and exciting side of Simone Jackson (Nabiyah Be), Daisy’s best friend. Simone has her own plotline, and it’s one aspect of the film that is better than the book, especially with her navigating a sapphic relationship during that time period.
A massive shortcoming in the adaptation is that the interview format is not relayed effectively with more meaningful dialogue. I understand that we get to see an impartial account of the events that happened but the interviews almost brought nothing of value. The novel takes advantage of the oral history format and showcases the characters’ reflections and perspectives on certain events. This sense of introspective hindsight, however, is lost in the adaptation as we know precisely what happened, trimming that sense of mystery. But most importantly, the interviews don’t really show how the characters have grown, and they mainly consist of brief reactions or quirky one-liners. The last episode is the only one where the interview aspect ties nicely with the plot as it provides a resolution.
There are bound to be limitations with translating certain literary techniques onto the screen, and the TV adaptation didn’t completely miss the mark. The storyline is engaging and I found myself humming to the tunes of the show, and the cast meticulously replicated the essence of the characters from the novels. Nevertheless, the ineffective interview format and the melodramatic tone sometimes bog the plot down just a little.
4 thoughts on “Daisy Jones and The Six – Book and TV adaptation review”
Great post, I’ve got the book and have prime but not watched it read either yet but this post has me excited for her i do 🖤
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Thank you for reading, appreciate the comment ❤️ Hope you enjoy the book and the show, definitely a fun one to binge read/watch!
I love this book so much I need to check this out
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Yes! Definitely worth a watch 😊