The mockumentary format tends to be reserved for comedy and, since becoming a staple of American sitcoms, the gimmick has grown tired and overused. As a dramatic mockumentary, the series adaptation of Taylor Jenkins Reid's 2019 novel Daisy Jones & The Six is slightly jarring, its closest antecedent being This is Spinal Tap.
But here, the ‘documentary’ medium is retrospective: interviewing the former members of a fictional 70s band (loosely inspired by Fleetwood Mac) to unveil the mystery behind their break-up. Writer/developers Scott Neustadter and Michael H Weber (The Disaster Artist) structure the series like a Sky Arts rock doc, with well-budgeted reconstructions starring Riley Keough and Sam Claflin as the two hothead leads Daisy Jones and Billy Dunne.
Sam Claflin and Riley Keough as Billy Dunne and Daisy Jones. Photo: Amazon
Ten episodes is a tall order, and the series can’t always justify its length – especially after the wildly incongruous seventh episode, which flies from the musically vibrant Los Angeles to a quiet, Grecian escape.
However, none of these mostly 45-minute ‘tracks’ feel laborious. Each is a well-dressed delight: capturing the Pittsburgh beginnings of the band, the shouting matches in the studio, and their boozy, druggy US tour. And all this across a psychedelic tapestry showing a delicate rock period that was post-hippie and pre-punk, as succinctly described by tour manager Rob Reyes (Timothy Olyphant) in the first episode: ‘It’s a new decade. No one needs reminding that the world is a mess. People want to feel good again.’
Thankfully, unlike the overrated Elvis (2022) and A Star is Born (2018), Daisy Jones & The Six spends most of its time examining the band before their fame. And let’s face it: these are the periods in artists’ lives that prove the most interesting.
Daisy Jones (Keough) is moulded on Joni Mitchell and Stevie Nicks, and also brings to mind the redhead bohemian charm of Florence Welch. She grows up in a world of unloved privilege and every pill, every bump, every glass of Champagne, is a rebellion against that trauma.
Billy Dunne (Claflin) is similar, but he's more dictatorial as the possessive lead singer of The Six before Daisy’s entrance. He’s prone to defensive male toxicity, with his wife and honorary band member Camila (Camila Morrone) often guiding him in better directions.
Once Daisy and Billy finally meet, it’s a wonderfully competitive match. Her firecracker, feminist personality battles his combative approach, and she's more often in the right (bolstered by scathing, hilarious barbs that scratch the era’s casual sexism). Keough’s energetic performance is a rush to watch, her character’s passions raise your mood, and it’s nice to see Claflin in a more sympathetic role after playing horrific villains in Peaky Blinders and The Nightingale.
Left to right: Josh Whitehouse, Suki Waterhouse, Sebastian Chacon, Sam Claflin, Riley Keough, and Will Harrison as Eddie Roundtree, Karen Sirko, Warren Rojas, Billy Dunne, Daisy Jones, Graham Dunne. Photo: Amazon
The series excels in scenes of heated arguments between the two, mixing egotistical frustrations with mutual admiration. Keough and Claflin’s chemistry is perfect, and at times ambiguously absorbing. Billy insists the on-stage connection with Daisy is just an act, blurring the lines between performance and reality, life imitating art.
But the chief pleasure of the series is the music infusing its 70s world. As well as the Daisy Jones & The Six album Aurora (now available in full) – produced by Blake Mills with contributions from Phoebe Bridgers and Marcus Mumford – classic tunes are sprinkled throughout the show. Lou Reed, The Rolling Stones, Patti Smith, Television, Roxy Music and even Fleetwood Mac all feature.
Daisy Jones & The Six isn’t flawless, but it’s a refreshing, entertaining and frankly rockin’ drama. The spicy subplots of the bandmates can feel scattered at times, but they're all engaging characters with never a dull moment. And unlike many classic tales of bands and artists, this series embraces and elevates female perspectives – often discarded, disparaged or just ignored in a very male industry.
The first three episodes of Daisy Jones & The Six will be available on Prime Video from Friday 3 March, with episodes released weekly thereafter.
|What||Daisy Jones & The Six, Prime Video review|
03 Mar 23 – 03 Mar 24, ON PRIME VIDEO
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