The Day

On the road with a fictional ’70s rock band


Based on the popular 2019 novel about a fictional rock band that became huge in the late ’70s and then just as quickly fell apart, the 10-episode Amazon adaptation of “Daisy Jones & The Six” is structured (as is the book) like an episode of VH1’s “Behind the Music.”

Fleetwood Mac is author Taylor Jenkins Reid’s obvious inspiratio­n, with her two main characters emulating, with some important tweaks, the combative push-pull that defined the personal and profession­al collaborat­ions of Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham.

The Six is a band led by Billy Dunne (Sam Claflin), a working-class guy from Pittsburgh with Jim Morrison cheekbones and a chip on his shoulder. His insecuriti­es and massive ego give way to addiction when the band goes on their first tour. So it’s off to rehab for Billy, who returns committed to doing right by his young wife (Camila Morrone) and baby. The band just needs something extra to take it to the next level.

When an avuncular and endlessly patient music producer (Tom Wright) pairs Billy with a singer-songwriter named Daisy Jones (Riley Keough) — a free spirit and quintessen­tial Los Angeles girl who masks her own insecuriti­es with bravado, booze and pills — their duet goes to No. 1 and, after some grumbling from Billy, she’s invited to join the band.

The group records one “Rumours”-esque album and then embarks on a stadium tour fraught with interperso­nal issues plaguing the entire band (except for the blissed-out, Ringo-like drummer played by Sebastian Chacon). It all comes to a head at a sold-out show at Soldier Field in Chicago.

It would be their last time on stage together. Twenty years later, they’re sitting for interviews and looking back at their origin story.

Created by the screenwrit­ing team of Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber (whose credits include “500 Days of Summer”), the series falls into a number of expected traps. It’s the “same old tired rock and roll tale,” as Billy puts it, and he’s not wrong. But the episodes have a cumulative power, even if the storytelli­ng often feels like it’s cutting corners rather than digging in.

Musically, Keough and Claflin are a good match. She has a strong, clear voice that bolsters their harmonies, but he can hold his own too, and they’re credible as performers. Keough is the granddaugh­ter of Elvis Presley and, fairly or not, is perhaps shoulderin­g certain expectatio­ns about her presence as a singer. But she looks at home onstage and finds a way to channel some of Nicks’ physicalit­y and flowy-wispy stagewear without mimicking her outright. The music itself really does sound close enough to Fleetwood Mac, especially “Regret Me” and “Let Me Down Easy.” All of that works.

It’s the offstage drama that the show struggles with. As a pair, Daisy and Billy are supposed to feel like a musical inevitabil­ity fueled by mutual friction and attraction. But the fireworks just aren’t there. When Billy goes home after their first recording session and makes love to his wife, we’re meant to think it’s because he’s turned on by spending all day with Daisy; there’s just nothing onscreen that even suggests this is the case. As a viewer, you’re being asked to make all kinds of leaps.

Some of this comes down to casting. Billy is a pill, but Claflin’s performanc­e isn’t charismati­c enough to transform that into: He’s a pill but I get it. Often he’s shot as if he’s posing and these moments feel like a workaround: Our lead is handsome, so if we lean into that maybe we can generate something that will read as “rock star.” Keough’s role is just as underdevel­oped; the script tells us she’s into Billy — that she feels a unique connection with him — but that chemistry never shows up.

When the pair go off to write their first song together, he asks, “So how is this going to work?”

Daisy: “What do you mean?” Billy: “What’s your process?”

Daisy: “You’re looking at it.” That’s a frustratin­g dodge because a show like this should show us their process. That’s part of the fun of going behind the scenes. What does creative collaborat­ion look like? Is it too boring to film? Maybe. But I would argue Peter Jackson’s 2021 “Get Back,” the documentar­y made from old footage of The Beatles working on their final album, suggests the opposite.

The series is primarily the Billy and Daisy show, with the other members of the band relegated to supporting status, including Suki Waterhouse as a character based on Christine McVie. While the keyboard can clearly be heard on the tracks, the character’s actual musical contributi­ons are rendered invisible. She exists to be the woman who ends up falling into bed with one of her bandmates. There’s also Daisy’s one and only friend in the world, played by Nabiyah Be, who goes from background singer to disco sensation when she moves to New York and gets her song played in a club that resembles Studio 54. Her story may feel tacked on — being a Black gay woman means record labels are playing all kinds of games diminishin­g her talent — but Be is terrific.

 ?? LACEY TERRELL PRIME VIDEO ?? Sam Claflin as Billy Dunne in “Daisy Jones & The Six.”
LACEY TERRELL PRIME VIDEO Sam Claflin as Billy Dunne in “Daisy Jones & The Six.”

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