Book-to-screen adaptations are always tricky to get just right.
Turning hundreds of pages of character development and plot into a digestible film or T.V series is a daunting task.
While the burden is somewhat lessened when working with a television series, given the opportunity for a season’s worth of hour-long episodes, it is still difficult to recreate a story on screen that has already been told in print and visualized by readers’ imaginations.
Even books that seem destined to be retold and brought to life ina small-screen format can end up underwhelming at best and untrue to their original form at worst.
Among a sea of book adaptations being released as of late, “Daisy Jones & The Six” stood out as one that had all the right characteristics to be turned into a television mini-series.
The book of the same name, by Taylor Jenkins Reid, reads as the transcript of a documentary recounting the story of the title fictional 70’s rock band’s meteoric rise to fame and abrupt falling out.
This seems like the perfect set up for the book to be turned into a mockumentary of sorts, and the 10 part mini-series released on Prime Video does play into that facet of the book.
The show opens with the band being caught up with individually 20 years after their ill-fated final concert.
Main protagonists Daisy Jones, played by Riley Keough, and Billy Dunne, played by Sam Claflin, along with their fellow bandmates begin to divulge the story of The Six, at least as they see it.
The book plays with this idea of multiple viewpoints with characters, particularly Daisy and Billy, having different recollections of the same event, while the truth often ends up somewhere in between.
This ‘he said/she said’ format in the book allows for the show to get creative with just exactly what that truth is in the form of flashbacks.
These flashbacks visualize most of the story in between quick snippets of documentary footage with the band giving their personal feelings about the experience.
One such way the show takes liberty with the story is in the case of Simone, a disco star of the time and Daisy’s closest friend.
Simone’s sexuality is not discussed in the book beyond the fact that she is said to have a daughter who is also successful in the music industry.
The show takes this ambiguity and turns it into a new storyline, with Simone falling in love with a woman.
Bernie is a music producer who helps Simone, struggling to find success in the male-dominated industry, further her career in the underground scene of the queer community.
This previously untapped storyline pairs well with the stories of Daisy and Karen, keyboardist for The Six, who also find it difficult as women pursuing music.
Adding the perspective of a queer black woman to the story adds another layer to the conversation of equality in the music industry.
Another change to the story that bodes well for the show is the elimination of an original member of the band.
Pete Loving was the bassist for The Six in the book, but given his lack of input in the documentary and his only real storyline being his devotion to his girlfriend (which, while wholesome, doesn’t equate to being very entertaining), it seems his only real purpose for existing in the story is so that the band has enough members prior to Daisy’s arrival to be called “The Six.”
The show completely erases this character and takes care of the issue of the band’s name by including Billy’s wife Camila in the naming of the band.
Including Camila as an honorary member of the band shows how integral she was in the early days of its formation and how much that changes when Daisy enters the picture.
While this specific change to the story does enhance the portrayal of the band’s early days, there is a lot to be desired in the retelling of both the band and Daisy’s origin stories.
The book reels you in with these characters who are all vying to be on stage, hoping to get that one shot and make it big.
So much of the first quarter to a third of the book is spent building these characters’ dreams and showing how hard they work to attain them.
There is so much anticipation surrounding how and when the two separate acts of Daisy Jones and The Six will finally meet and collide when reading the story in its original form.
This excitement is lost in the miniseries as the first few episodes rush through the artists’ formative years to get to the moment of Billy and Daisy’s first meeting more quickly.
Though Keough and Claflin have amazing chemistry as the two leads, this moment of impact would be even more
significant if the events that transpired before it was elaborated upon more vividly.
Showing more of both acts early performances and time spent apart would have made that first performance together a real showstopper.
While not a perfect adaptation, the show is an entertaining portrayal of the book that brings Jenkins Reid’s fictional Fleetwood Mac-inspired band to life with an accompanying soundtrack to boot and that alone makes it worth the watch.
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