BLOG POST: Daisy Jones & The Six: It Could’ve Been Great
For a book whose central conflict lies around being good vs being great, that emphasises the need to make history with one’s art, the new series falls short of that. Don’t get me wrong, the screen adaptation is perfectly good, and that is exactly why it fails. Because it could’ve been great.
I did not want to write a “the book is better than the movie” review, because I really hoped the adaptation would ace it, but unfortunately it did not.
Taylor Jenkins Reid has become a powerhouse when it comes to writing books that appeal to the new generation of adults. By portraying intense relationships in her books where her characters go around maiming each other in the process of shaping who they are, she has provided a home to a generation who feels deeply lost.
Her novels are famously set in the past, glorifying the golden age of cinema, tennis, or rock and roll, yet her characters are distinctively contemporary.
In the book Daisy Jones and the Six, there is no holding back. Love, heartbreak, anger, lust, pleasure, and sadness, are magnified by characters who don’t know how to live moderately with a dash of brilliantly written fictional lyrics. With an interesting story and compelling depth, the show had excellent source material to bring Aurora to life.
When the adaptation was announced, it appeared to have everything. I thought the choice of having the cast led by Riley Keough and Sam Clafin, along with talented women like Suki Waterhouse and Camila Morrone was a hit. The art production is also divine, and I knew as soon as the trailer came out that the 70s aesthetic would have a chokehold on us for the months to come.
However, watching the show, even with all the perfect ingredients, feels like meh.
There is nothing remarkable about it.
The emotion, the intensity, with which everything is written in the book is just not present in the adaptation. Key moments are glossed over and dulled, ignoring the elements that make the story great.
Now, I don’t think it’s the actors’ problem, their performances are good, Keough and Clafin bring Daisy and Billy to life just as we pictured them in our minds. I also think some of the changes such as eliminating Pete from the story, make perfect sense in order to dive deeper into other character’s stories.
I think the real problem was a matter of direction and writing. The characters’ essence is just not there.
Billy is replaced by a simplified version of an average jerk, lacking the complexity of a man who is terrified of falling over the edge again because he knows a single spark could turn everything he’s built to ashes. Camila feels like a martyr taking blows from Billy all the time, instead of showing the strength of the woman who kept Billy in rein and the Six from falling into mediocrity. Daisy’s characteristic unhingedness, chaos, and loss of self turns into the classic “manic pixie dream girl” on screen.
One of the key scenes in the book is when she sings Regret Me to the band. She is channeling all the anger through her voice, and we can truly understand how her character is breaking under the full weight of her relationship with Billy.
The simple line “when you think of me, I hope it ruins Rock ‘n’ Roll” is a punch in the gut, yet in the show it turns into a petty fight along the lines of ‘you wrote a song to get back at me and now I’m doing that too’, and then it’s just water under the bridge.
The full Classic Americana vibe is not there. It lacks sex, drugs, and rock and roll. The conflicts that drive the book like addiction, infidelity, megalomania, entitlement, and a passion for art are dimmed.
By trying to stay within the safe zone, the show has turned into a good yet unmemorable adaptation of a great story. While watching it is still enjoyable, not once did it make me feel the thrill that the book did. However, that is certainly not going to stop me from relishing the 70s aesthetic and blasting Fleetwood Mac for the rest of the month. Here’s to book Daisy, who showed us the difference between good and great.
If you haven’t yet, I would strongly encourage you to pick up the book from our shelves and get ready for a wild musical ride into the world of 70s Rock and Roll.
BLOG POST by Regina Lopez Puerta, March 2023
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