I was admittedly resistant for quite a while with the whole Daisy Jones & the Six thing. Ms. Hipster wanted to watch it. One of my podcasters seemed into it. But a period soap opera about a “Fleetwood Mac-like band” didn’t exactly set my world on fire. First, I tend to find period stuff in this particular era problematic. So many bad wigs and super-clean hippies. And Prime isn’t exactly HBO when it comes to what I know will need to be a pretty hefty production budget to recreate the time convincingly. Second, music-based stuff can be very cringy. If the music is bad, or the musicians unconvincing as musicians, it can be an embarrassing slog. And, finally, Fleetwood Mac isn’t my idea of a fun time. I’m fine with a couple of their songs, but I get that coked-up singers who cause internal band turmoil, and the loose idea of relationships in the 70s, along with flowy skirts cause drama. It’s all fine, but just not something I care much about.
But eventually I acquiesced and spun it up. I will say that my concerns were half-justified. I liked the show better than I thought I would. Which, I suppose, is faint praise, but these days I’ve gotten psyched up for a series, only to be seriously disappointed by what they threw up on screen. I’m looking at you, also Prime show, The Peripheral. So my low enthusiasm levels were surpassed. Yay. But… I was one hundred percent right about the wigs. There are some truly atrocious attempts. I don’t get it. I mean Timothy Olyphant’s absolutely insane feathery hair helmet is just the worst head topper I’ve seen since Corey Stoll’s Lego hair on The Strain. And in what I assume had to either be Amazon cheaping out, or the producer’s inability to find a solution, they used 36-year-old Sam Claflin to play early-twenty-something Billy Dunne and forty-something Billy Dunne. The dude — mostly because of his fat-free, British lantern-jawed face — honestly looks like he’s in his early forties sans makeup and weirdo gray-streaked hair, so having him play a young person is completely absurd. It was verging on Steve Buscemi “How do you do, fellow kids” territory. It was one of a few large decisions that were pretty questionable, but I managed to push through it. Mainly because they actually did an okay job on the music part. This band, the Six, weren’t really Fleetwood Mac. And the music — while certainly not the number-one radio hit type music they claimed — was decent and not cringey.
I forgot to mention: this is basically a ten-episode version of Behind the Music. A documentary style look back at a band’s rise and fall. Told by the band members’ talking heads in 1997 about the band’s start in 1968 to its end in 1977, we see the evolution of the Dunne Brothers into the Six and eventually, after hooking up with Daisy Jones, into Daisy Jones & the Six. As with any documentary, the older versions of everyone look back on their younger selves, all with different versions of what led to what and who did what to whom. It’s certainly not contentious like some of the Behind the Music episodes, but is ultimately more affirmative, and is clearly focused more on the making of great artists and healing. Which I suppose was also a positive with me. You know, with so much of TV today just going for the jugular. The structure is relatively well done, and the creators managed to infuse some balance, adding some humor and moments of levity to take the edge off the emotional trauma and drug addiction stuff.
So, where does this leave us? Well, it’s exactly what you’d expect in terms of a narrative. People hook up. People fight over creative endeavors, credit and fame. At the center of this is the aforementioned Billy Dunne and Daisy Jones (Riley Keough). There is some weird meta stuff going on here, as Keough looks exactly like her mother, Lisa Marie Presley, who in turn looks remarkably like her father, Elvis Presley. It’s kind of uncanny. Anyway, Dunne is the leader of the Dunne Brothers. A band with a modicum of success, but missing that winning element. Enter singer-songwriter, Daisy Jones, who is hooked up with Billy by struggling record exec, Teddy Price (Tom Wright). Billy has already been through some shit. His band’s debut record failed, as he burned out on tour and ended up in rehab. Of course the record seemed relatively popular — and certainly would be a huge hit in today’s standards — but I guess a canceled tour equals failure? I don’t know. Anyway, Price sees Billy and Daisy as kindred spirits and thinks each of their strengths will build some sort of Voltron hit maker. The two spend the rest of the series circling each other romantically and fighting like creative divas with one another. Probably because they are so similar. Though she does a looooot more coke and pills.
And that’s about it. The band has its struggles and ups and downs, but ultimately becomes the biggest band in the world. Only to vanish as quickly as they rose. It’s a thing, I guess. Now, is the series entertaining? Yes. Are some of the performances decent? Sure. Does the whole thing feel like the concoction of a novelist followed by a TV writer and feel just a little too neat? Yes, indeed. Is there an odd gap where the band is at one moment ‘the Six,’ and then the next day named ‘Daisy Jones & the Six’ without any kind of discussion or freak out? Weirdly, yes. Could they have shaved two episodes off the ten we were given? Absolutely. But, ultimately, a show that could have easily gone sideways did not. As far as fake music documentaries go, it’s right up there with… This is Spinal Tap and A Mighty Wind. And, uh, well I guess there aren’t a lot of these that aren’t Christopher Guest mockumentaries. But, seriously, it’s as well done as it could have been. I wasn’t mad at it. Which surpasses everything I could have hoped for with something I begrudgingly went into from the first frame.