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Daisy Jones and the Six on Prime Video review: a fun, breezy ride through music history

 (Lacey Terrell/Prime Video)
(Lacey Terrell/Prime Video)

On the surface, Prime Video’s latest big-budget release has it all: sex, glamour, drugs and most importantly, rock’n’roll.

Adapted from Taylor Jenkins Reid’s bestselling novel, Daisy Jones and the Six follows the dizzying rise of a fictional band very like (read: directly inspired by) Fleetwood Mac in the freewheeling Seventies.

Heading up this band is Sam Claflin, who plays rock star Billy Dunne with aviator shades and blindingly white veneers. He’s leading the Six, a band who are trying to go places; coincidentally, so too is Daisy Jones (Riley Keough).

The troubled daughter of rich absentee parents, Daisy wants desperately to be a singer-songwriter – that is, when she’s not drowning her sorrows in pills and booze. When she meets the Six, there’s instant chemistry with her and Billy; the personal and professional become quickly intertwined even as the Six skyrocket in fame.

The writers – comprising Scott Neustatder and Michael H Weber – who also developed the show, cut their teeth on YA fare such as The Fault in Our Stars and The Spectacular Now, and it shows in the lashings of angst and constant romantic tension. The whole show hangs on Daisy and Billy’s chemistry. And while Keough is a revelation as Daisy: fragile, angry, determined and charismatic all at the same time, unfortunately, Claflin can’t quite meet her there.

His Billy seems generic and bland, thinly written; his story hits all the right notes, but we’ve heard them before, in musical documentaries and films like A Star is Born and Almost Famous. Drug addiction? Check. Temperamental attitude? Check. Two troubled souls finding solace in each other? Check.

The showrunners have also made the decision to carry over the documentary-style storytelling from the book; in the show, this translates to interspersing clips of the scripted action with cutaway interviews as the cast, playing older versions of their characters, look back and comment on their heyday.

Daisy Jones and The Six – First Look (Pamela Littky/Prime Video/PA) (Pamela Littky/Prime Video/PA)
Daisy Jones and The Six – First Look (Pamela Littky/Prime Video/PA) (Pamela Littky/Prime Video/PA)

It’s a weird plot device, which doesn’t really work; the ‘interviews’ feel rather forced and have the effect of disrupting the flow of the show.

That said, the production team dial back on deploying them by the end of the second episode (or I just got used to them) and the whole thing becomes a lot more engrossing, as we start to delve into the music scene’s underbelly. By the end of episode three, when the Six finally (finally!) meet Daisy, the show takes flight.

Which is a relief, because when the focus isn’t on the band, the show tends to stutter. The plot flies by so quickly that major events in the characters’ lives (sexual assault, first love, rehab) barely have time to register before the next one happens, which makes it hard to invest in them.

It helps that the show has such a strong supporting cast to rely on. Camila Morrone does her very best in the rather thankless role of Billy’s loyal wife; Suki Waterhouse is also agreeably acerbic as the band’s fiercely independent keyboardist, Karen. And it goes without saying that the set designs and costumes are flawlessly Seventies – the show’s big budget, clearly being put to good use.

The music also deserves special mention: written with real-life singer-songwriters specifically for the show (Mumford and Sons’ Marcus Mumford was involved, for instance), The Six’s sound is gorgeously smoky and guitar-heavy; Fleetwood Mac with a bluesy twist.

While Daisy Jones and the Six tread doesn’t tread new ground, it’s a fun, breezy, sugar-rush ride through one of the greatest musical eras in modern history. And it will keep you humming long after the final episode rolls.

Daisy Jones and the Six will air on Prime Video from March 3