Rehabilitating Rock Mythology: A Charming Take on Daisy Jones & the Six

Riley Keough takes center stage in Prime Video’s delightful homage to the music of the 1970s. With an excellent casting choice, Keough brings an electric energy to the screen, captivating audiences with ease. This nostalgic rock fantasy provides a soothing and enjoyable viewing experience, with its gentle pace and laid-back atmosphere. The first half hour of Daisy Jones & the Six introduces Timothy Olyphant’s character not once, but twice. Unfortunately, up until this point, the show’s main focus seems to be on poorly executed wig choices. Taylor Jenkins Reid’s bestseller, which centered around a fictional rock band’s journey to fame and eventual downfall, is reimagined into an unconvincing mockumentary.¬†Rehabilitating Rock Mythology: A Charming Take on Daisy Jones & the Six.

Rehabilitating Rock Mythology: A Charming Take on Daisy Jones & the Six

The actors playing the youthful and idealistic characters of the ’70s are noticeably in their thirties, while the older interviewees don’t quite hit the mark either. The soundtrack is somewhat heavy-handed, with “Bang a Gong (Get It On)” blaring as Daisy (played by Riley Keough) snorts her way down Sunset Boulevard. The overall vibe is reminiscent of the Bee Gees’ Sgt. Pepper’s, but comes across as more of a lackluster Las Vegas show.

Moments later, Timothy Olyphant graces the screen as Rod Reyes, the band’s tour manager. In flashbacks, he’s rocking a pornstache, midnight aviators, and long hippie hair that Dirty Harry would have been happy to chop off with a bullet. In present-day interviews, he’s transformed into a silver fox, complete with a flirty scarf. “Politics, man. No one wants to hear it. People just want to feel good again,” he advises a young Dylan-esque musician. Olyphant’s over-the-top performance perfectly embodies the excessive charm of Daisy Jones. The 10-episode miniseries, set to premiere on Prime Video on March 3rd, starts off as absurd before gradually delving into more profound territory. Ultimately, it ends on a note so saccharine that I found myself wiping away tears.

In Daisy Jones & the Six, Hollywood luxury serves as a backdrop for the titular character’s ascent as a popular club-goer with connections to every bouncer on the Strip. Meanwhile, brothers Billy and Graham Dunne are looking for a way out of their mundane lives in Pittsburgh, hoping to escape the life of the steel mill or the horrors of the Vietnam War. They form a band with their friends, Warren and Eddie, and later add British keyboardist Karen to the mix. Along the way, Billy’s girlfriend Camila becomes an integral part of the group, helping to maintain a sense of camaraderie after their move to California.

In Daisy Jones & the Six, the titular character doesn’t meet the band until the third episode. Before that, she befriends a budding singer named Simone and goes through a series of lackluster relationships with uninspired writers. Daisy realizes that her true passion is making music rather than being a muse. Meanwhile, Billy spirals out of control, despite his growing romance with Camila. The mockumentary format often overexplains the obvious dramas, making it worse than a tired old rock and roll tale. It takes a while for the twin plots to come together, but finally, the shrewd producer Teddy pairs Daisy with the newly sober Billy for a guest vocal. From there, the rock and roll begins to roll.

Los Angeles in the 1970s was a captivating scene with its affordable housing in Laurel Canyon, ample street parking outside the famous Whiskey a Go Go club, and pool parties that seemed to happen at every turn. It was a time before brand collaborations and TikTok houses, where boho style reigned supreme and marijuana was still illegal and therefore had a certain allure. However, as explored in the story of Daisy Jones, the behind-the-scenes reality of the music industry was not always as glamorous as the public perceived. 

Daisy’s bold move to write her own lyrics shocked many of her male counterparts, while Simone’s experiences of racism and homophobia added another layer of complexity. Although the group’s lineup may have drawn comparisons to Fleetwood Mac, Daisy’s arrival shook things up and hinted at a potential rockstar crossover akin to Joni Jett joining forces with the Allman Brothers.

Daisy’s arrival in the Six brings a new level of popularity and a challenge to Billy’s authority. She refuses to sing harmonies on love songs about his wife, asserting herself as a co-frontperson. The fifth episode is a standout, following a single day in their explosive partnership. Riley Keough shines as she embodies self-destructive self-confidence, perhaps as Amazon’s apology for underutilizing her in The Terminal List. When Daisy grabs Billy’s mic during their first performance, it’s a display of brash moxie and imperial selfishness. 

One can’t help but wonder if she’s claiming her voice or stepping on a mill-town boy. Keough’s pop superstar genes only add another layer to the complexity. Billy’s repression of Daisy’s tiger force is palpable, but Sam Claflin’s default pained expression serves a different purpose. After spiraling early on, Billy is on the verge of retiring for his family, and every step towards fame and Daisy is fraught with danger. The possibility of him becoming interesting enough to implode looms large.

The tension between the ex-boozer monogamist and the Chateau-dwelling free spirit is palpable from the opening credits. Though they seem to hate each other, the possibility of love between them lingers. As their band works on their album and navigates their relationships and health, what benefits one member may prove detrimental to another. While we know that calamity is on the horizon, the journey there is a surprising one, taking us from gritty music venues to tense recording sessions and a doomed tour. Ultimately, it all leads to a complete break-up in 1977.

The music in this series is entirely original, with the actors showcasing their instrumental talents. Despite the absence of chart-topping hits, the band’s raw and unpolished sound adds a nostalgic charm reminiscent of garage bands from the past. While Karen and Graham’s romance falls short of being captivating, the keyboard skills of Waterhouse steal the spotlight. Whitehouse brings depth to the character of a bassist who understands his role as a mere spectator in the grand scheme of things. Chacon’s portrayal of the drug-seeking, the womanizing character adds a comedic element to the series. Simone’s exploration of the New York disco provides a refreshing break from the main storyline. Wright’s character, Teddy, is a father figure and a producer who is genuinely kind-hearted. The series even includes a light-hearted episode set on a Greek island. Timothy Olyphant also makes an appearance.

Eddie’s declaration that rock and roll should embody passion, pain, and anger sets the tone for the series, drawing inspiration from iconic acts like The Doors and Ladies and Gentlemen, and The Fabulous Stains. Initially, I found Daisy Jones to be less provocative, with less emphasis on sex and drugs and more on romance and rehabilitation. However, the likable characters sing heartfelt songs to one another, with lyrics that often reflect recent plot developments. The overall result is a mix of amusement and sentimentality that surprisingly moved me to tears over a wig. Ultimately, the show’s easy listening and emotional moments make for a fun and touching experience.