Behind the music

Published date07 March 2023
TAYLOR Jenkins Reid’s bestseller Daisy Jones & The Six is a beautifully controlled depiction of the exuberant rise and chaotic fall of a 1970s band — fictional but very much reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac. It captured the glamour, the hedonism, the freedom, the joy of unleashing talent and the agony of addiction, all the while building an acute psychological portrait of each character and — even more impressively — the cross-currents between them all. Love, resentment, creative and sexual tension, insecurities and monstrous egos collide, rebound and send shockwaves back into and beyond the group, compounding their mistakes but also creating the alchemy that gives rise to great music

It is a book made for television — even down to the way it is structured, as the members of the band are being interviewed for a documentary 20 years after they broke up — and the rights were duly snapped up by Reese Witherspoon. The result is a glossy, 10-part Prime Video adaptation, developed by writers Scott Neustadter and Michael H Weber, and directed by James Ponsoldt. They have kept the style and glamour — everyone and everything in it looks ceaselessly gorgeous — but failed to repeat Jenkins Reid’s great feat, which was to make you care about this group of talented, fortunate people who couldn’t keep themselves together enough to succeed for long, and who damaged an awful lot of people in the fallout.

It is a rags-to-riches-to-slightly-less-raggy-rags story. Four childhood friends in Pittsburgh, including brothers Billy (Sam Claflin) and Graham Dunne (Will Harrison), form a band in the hope of escaping their home town. With the addition of Karen Sirko (Suki Waterhouse), poached from another band and an unrequited love interest for Graham, they make it to LA and are on the brink of stardom when Billy’s addictions overcome him and he enters rehab. When he gets out, their manager, Teddy Price (Tom Wright), puts them with his new discovery, Daisy Jones...

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