We get it: There’s an overwhelming amount of television right now. The streaming landscape is an impractical maze, and the good stuff easily gets lost in the shuffle. But most of us can still find that one show that cuts through the noise. We call this Appointment Viewing, or the time you carve out in your busy schedule to watch the show you’ll want to unpack with your friends when it’s still on your mind the next day. Tune in each month to read what writer Michel Ghanem, a.k.a. tvscholar, deems worthy of a group-chat deep dive.
Last month, we recommended turning the channel to HBO’s monster hit The Last of Us. This month, the fictional band in Daisy Jones & the Six takes over Amazon Prime Video: a limited series that brings to life a 1970s fictional band with catchy, original music and compelling performances.
What is this music show everyone is talking about?
Daisy Jones & the Six is a faithful adaptation of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s novel of the same name, brought to the screen by Reese Witherspoon’s production company, Hello Sunshine. The ten-episode limited series follows a Fleetwood Mac–inspired fictitious rock band in the 1970s as they come together to create a once-in-a-lifetime hit record during a drug- and booze-fueled whirlwind that would propel the band to dizzying levels of fame. The series takes a faux-documentary approach by using interviews with the band members as they look back, 20 years later, at their moment in the limelight and what went wrong. After watching all ten episodes ahead of its premiere, I can say the finale brings the show to a conclusive ending that made the season feel worthwhile and carefully considered — but the journey, shimmering with eye-popping 1970s outfits, is just as satisfying.
The show stars a phenomenal Riley Keough (granddaughter of Elvis Presley and whom you might have seen in Starz’s The Girlfriend Experience or A24’s Zola) as the titular Daisy Jones, and much of the conflict revolves around her clash with the Six front man Billy Dunne (played by The Hunger Games’ Sam Claflin). The rest of the band is composed of lead guitarist Graham Dunne (Will Harrison), keyboardist Karen Sirko (Suki Waterhouse), drummer Warren Rojas (Sebastian Chacon), and bassist Eddie Roundtree (Josh Whitehouse). The sixth “member” of the band is amateur photographer Camila Dunne (Camila Morrone), initially taking on the role of promoting the band during its scrappy beginnings, and eventually becoming Billy’s wife. One of my favorite story lines on the show revolves around Daisy’s friend Simone Jackson (Nabiyah Be), also an aspiring singer-songwriter carving her own path as a disco artist. The cast is rounded out by Timothy Olyphant in very fun wigs as Rod, the band’s manager, and Tom Wright as Teddy Price, a renowned music producer who takes the Six under his wing.
Where can I watch it?
The first episode premieres on March 3 on Amazon Prime Video, and the streamer will release two to three episodes weekly every Friday until the final batch on March 24. After debuting its streaming service with full-season drops in typical Netflix style, Amazon has been experimenting with weekly formats. The two-episode release, also used for some HBO Max shows, feels like a digestible amount of new weekly content for me. The series is executive-produced and written by Scott Neustadter and his writing partner from (500) Days of Summer and The Disaster Artist Michael H. Weber, and made with the executive support of frequent Hello Sunshine collaborator Lauren Neustadter (she executive-produced for The Morning Show and Big Little Lies, among others).
Okay, but is the band actually good? Are there bops?
Daisy Jones was originally scheduled to begin filming in April 2020, but pandemic delays and the inability to film with large roaring crowds got in the way. The actors have said they see the delay as a blessing in disguise — it gave them enough time to take a year of music lessons and eventually go to band boot camp. They enlisted the help of Blake Mills, a music writer and producer who has collaborated with everyone from Lana Del Rey to Weezer. Mills recruited songwriters like Phoebe Bridgers and Marcus Mumford to craft the 11-track album Aurora, released via Atlantic Records to coincide with the show’s premiere.
The show’s soundtrack is already lush with recognizable 1970s hits, but the original music is the catchiest onscreen work since Lady Gaga bellowed in 2018’s A Star Is Born. Turns out that on top of already compelling performances, Keough and Claflin can really sing, and their harmonies paint every scene with the nuances of their characters’ complex relationship. The studio and the stage are where much of the show takes place, and there’s a satisfying feeling to watching the band stumble from the bumpy creation of a song to seeing Keough ripping around onstage in a billowing Stevie Nicks–esque cape to the thumping bass of their first single, “Look at Us Now (Honeycomb),” which was released in February for me to listen on repeat as I waited for the rest of the album.
Despite some of the show’s faults (it took me a few episodes to get past the documentary style), music is its connecting ethos, and the show deftly captures the propulsion of a tortured artist fulfilling their creative destiny. In one scene later in the season, Daisy rear-ends a car as she drives away in yet another angry fugue, but she can’t roll the window down to greet the angry driver with a now-busted bumper because her hand is too busy transposing song lyrics to paper that came to her in the moment. The art of creating music, for Daisy and Billy, is open-heart surgery: essential, but painful and vulnerable. The more they turn toward that creative vulnerability, the deeper they self-destruct. That messy, tangled dynamic made me lean in closer to the show as episodes flew by. With the album now on repeat, I won’t be forgetting about this fake band anytime soon. So, when’s the tour?