Daisy Jones and The Six review: Key changes from the book tell a different story

Daisy Jones and The Six premieres March 3 on Prime Video
Daisy Jones and The Six premieres March 3 on Prime Video /

If you’re a book fan of Daisy Jones and The Six, I’m going to warn you now that the Prime Video adaptation is not the story you fell in love with. The songs are different though they bare the same names of the ones from Taylor Jenkins Reid’s best-selling novel and the characters have a different feel to them. Expect many changes, but where the two tales are similar is that they’re electric.

There is something that is as vital and vibrant as rock ‘n roll about this series. It’ll grab a hold of you just like those old Behind the Music episodes where you’d find yourself glued to the TV learning about a band you may never have heard of before but who are quickly becoming your new obsession.

The premise is simple. The audience is being let in on the story of America’s biggest (fictional) band in the ’70s. They’re music is so enthralling that their singular album, Aurora, cemented them in the halls of music history as did their shocking dissolution after a sold out concert. Fast forward 20 years and they’re sitting down for the first time in tell-all interviews to discuss their origins, their rise, and the fall that blindsided the industry and their fans.

But at its core, Daisy Jones and The Six is a love story. And I don’t just mean the feelings that blossom between lead singers and songwriters Daisy Jones and Billy Dunne whose chemistry burns up the page, stage, and screen. I mean it’s a series about the love of self, found family, and music. How it transforms, how it frees, and how you can find yourself in a lyric, a melody, or a chord struck the right way.

Daisy Jones and The Six is a love story

Where the show differs from the book is its priorities. Reid’s story is about addiction and the great loves of one’s life. In the ’70s that was drugs for Daisy and it grew to include Billy, a man she knew she couldn’t have because of his marriage to Camila and his commitment to his family. For Billy, it was and always had been Camila for him from the moment they met even if he could later admit that he’d been more than infatuated with Daisy, he’d been in love with her and not being with her burned.

At the forefront had been Daisy’s struggle with drugs, how they lit her up just as bright as her talent and brought her down as low as her insecurities and loneliness. She’s a firecracker in the book, the kind of woman songs are written about but who’d rather be howling into a mic telling her own stories for others to listen to. And Billy didn’t know what to do with her, they clashed immediately because they were twin flames and like calls to like. He was wary due to being a recovering addict and Daisy had no interest in sobriety or denying the cold hard truths about herself.

The show doesn’t toss their addictions to the wayside but it’s less preoccupied with them. They’re white noise until they need to be substance, an additional weight to the plot that revolves primarily around coming into one’s own. Riley Keough’s Daisy Jones is fragile and mercurial. And, like a contradiction, she’s headstrong, stubborn, and more than a little narcissistic.

She’s what a neglected girl becomes when let out on the L.A. scene with no one to care for her well being, whose self-worth is hard earned because the people in her life are determined to tear her down. All except one, her best friend Simone, played by a radiant Nabiyah Be. Keough portrays Daisy with put on bravado that crumbles when she’s not in control of the moment. She’s explosive and enchanting with a voice that can shake the rafters and soothe you at the drop of a dime. In essence, she is Daisy Jones.

Sam Claflin, as Billy Dunne, matches her excellently like a backing rhythm that expands the sound in a song. His portrayal is vulnerable and a little trussed up just the way you’d want Billy to appear because he too puts on bravado, is just as insecure about his music, and is also narcissistic. Perhaps that’s a part of the formula that makes a formidable front person. In either case, Daisy Jones and The Six is their story more so than it is anyone else’s.

Unfortunately for book fans, that does mean that even with Camila’s character expansion allowing her story to encompass her own artistry and life outside of Billy, the series loses the tether that made the triangle between Daisy, Billy, and Camila so compelling. Claflin and Camila Morrone have fine chemistry and at times you can see why Billy is holding so tightly to the life he’s chosen, but the writing regarding these two relationships is not equal and that’s definitely felt.

There’s a charge to Billy and Daisy that’s there from the beginning and the series takes a bold direction with them. While the book gradually reveals Billy’s true feelings, relying heavily on reading between the lines for large swathes of the story, the series rips off the band-aid. It has to, of course, because we get to see their relationship unfold, it’s not being told or curated by these characters as they speak to their interviewer.

This leads to some interesting changes that will have some viewers yelling at the screen in delight while others will likely be disappointed. What’s not disappointing, however, is the way the series fleshes out background characters, a prime example being Simone.

Simone, who’d largely been a support system to Daisy who bounced in and out of the narrative in the book depending on when our lead needed her, is her own force in Daisy Jones and The Six. The roots of her are the same. She’s an up and coming singer with a powerful voice whose talent is getting lost in L.A.’s preoccupation with rock. Simone’s destined to become a pioneer of disco, but when we meet her, she’s doing background vocals and not rising to her full potential.

She saved Daisy, that’s true, but her best friend also helped her come into her own by seeing her and embracing her just as she is. That’s what the two provide to each other and that’s something they both need desperately. Daisy because she’s spent most of her life having to get along on her own despite having a family and Simone because she’s a lesbian who has few people to support her.

The way Nabiyah Be plays Simone’s strength, courage, and tentative hope in love is breathtaking. When the series hands her the reins, pulling viewers into a story about loving yourself enough to trust your art, your heart, and who you fall in love with, it’s nothing short of beautiful.

So, if you’re a book fan who is initially deterred by the changes you see in the show. If the band’s sound isn’t how you imagined or you’re having a hard time letting go of the gorgeous story Taylor Jenkins Reid put on the page, I implore you to push through those feelings.

This adaptation stands on its own and still manages to speak to the core of what the book conveyed. Daisy Jones and The Six is a story about love and it will stick with you long after its final scene. That I can attest to.

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Stay tuned to Hidden Remote for more Daisy Jones and The Six news and coverage. The series premieres Friday, March 3 on Prime Video.