The Biggest Differences Between Daisy Jones & The Six and Taylor Jenkins Reid’s Novel
FROM THE moment it hit bookshelves in 2019, Taylor Jenkins Reid’s novel Daisy Jones & the Six has been dominating conversations, topping bestsellers lists, and gaining a massive fanbase. Naturally, it was always destined to eventually receive the adaptation treatment, and that quickly became a reality when Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine snatched it up within months of its release and appearance on Witherspoon’s book club.
Charting the rise and fall of the wildly successful rock band loosely inspired by Fleetwood Mac’s tumultuous relationship circa the 1970s, the series centers on the eponymous Daisy Jones (Riley Keough), a free-spirited woman who falls into a cycle of substance abuse as she tries to make it as a musician in Los Angeles. When she becomes the co-lead singer of The Six, a band fronted by the charming but troubled Billy Dunne (Sam Claflin), the years that follow are a rollercoaster ride full of intense emotions and increasingly fraught dynamics.
Rounding out the band is Billy’s younger brother and guitarist Graham (Will Harrison), keyboardist Karen Sirko (Suki Waterhouse), bassist Eddie Roundtree (Josh Whitehouse), and drummer Warren Rojas (Sebastian Chacon); Camila Morrone also stars as Camila Alvarez Dunne, a photographer who married Billy and is part of the band’s journey from the onset.
Having been announced over four years ago by Amazon Studios and delayed several times due to the pandemic, the adaptation has been a long time in the making, causing expectations to skyrocket in the meantime. Fans of the book will be happy to know that the show remains faithful to its source material for the most part, making a handful of changes while never straying too far from the qualities that made the book a worldwide hit. It beautifully captures the immersive world created by Reid, bringing the band to life with a full-length album featuring incredibly catchy original songs performed by the cast.
Below, we dive into some of the differences between Reid’s beloved book and the 10-part miniseries.
The Story’s Format
The book’s oral history format serves as the perfect gateway to a longform adaptation, and the series doesn’t stray too far away from that. Rather than a written oral history, it’s framed as a music documentary unfolding across 10 episodes as it traces the band’s journey, with the core characters recounting their history through talking head interviews set 20 years later (the book takes place 33 years after their disbanding) that are weaved in with flashback footage capturing their lives in the 1970s.
Using the episodic format, Daisy Jones expands upon and goes beyond the scope of the novel, which featured no dialogue between characters and was contained within their unreliable recollections of the events and their actions. The show gives us a more raw and well-rounded look at the dynamics between the band members and the impacts of the characters’ behavior as they actually interact with one another.
Though the majority of the characters have the same names as they do in the books, there are several last name changes. In the book, Karen’s nickname is Karen Karen but her full name in the show is Karen Sirko. Eddie’s last name is originally Loving, however the series changes it to Roundtree and Loving instead becomes the last name of founding member Chuck, whose tenure as a guitarist was short-lived. Camila’s surname, which was originally Martinez, gets changed to Alvarez. Finally, Warren’s last name is changed from Rhodes to Rojas.
Daisy’s Upbringing and Early Career
The first chapter of the book describes Daisy’s privileged upbringing with wealthy parents who were “indifferent to her existence” yet paraded her out to their artist friends during parties due to her alluring beauty. She enters the drug-fueled music scene at an early age and parties at (and eventually resides in) the infamous Chateau Marmont hotel, spending her free time writing music and hanging out with her older best friend and disco singer Simone Jackson (Nabiyah Be) and other older industry men.
We immediately see that Daisy’s childhood wasn’t a very happy one in the series, with her mother yelling at her for disrupting a party with her singing; her parents have less of a presence overall. She eventually finds refuge in L.A.’s music scene and the variety of substances it has to offer, and she briefly becomes roommates with Simone before moving into a hotel. Unlike the book, though, she gets a job as a waitress as she tries to work on writing music, and it feels as if the series holds back on the nepo baby aspect that was key to understanding Daisy’s life.
The series makes a handful of adjustments to some of the characters’ backgrounds that had initially been presented in the book. The most apparent change is the combination of brothers Eddie and Pete Loving, who were, respectively, the band’s lead guitarist and bassist. Eddie is the only one that exists in the show’s version, and he now serves as the bassist. Through the axing of Pete—a character who was never featured giving his first-hand commentary in the book until the final chapter and was only mentioned by other characters—the show loses what is essentially the band’s sixth member. While the change doesn’t leave a massive impact, since Pete wasn’t fully present throughout the story, some of his qualities were imbued in the show’s Eddie, who comes across as more likable as a result. With the removal of Pete, however, we also lose the chance to get a better understanding of Eddie since Pete was the one person who he confided in and truly knew him.
Original band member Chuck Williams, the band’s rhythm guitarist and Graham’s childhood best friend also gets tweaked. Chuck doesn’t play a large role in Daisy Jones overall, but he’s a key player in the band’s formation. In the novel, Chuck is forced to leave the band after being drafted into the military and later dies in Cambodia less than six months after he was deployed. In the show, Chuck willingly chooses to leave the band after secretly applying and getting accepted to college to study dentistry.
Given that the story is set within the world of Rock ‘n’ Roll and Reid’s description of the Grammy-winning fictional band made it out to be one of the greatest ever, music was always going to play a critical role in the success of the Daisy Jones & the Six series. While the show does make large adjustments to the music, it brings the band’s Fleetwood Mac-esque sound to life in the most realistic way. At the end of the book, Reid includes a setlist for the fictional band composed of 12 original songs. She essentially gave approval to reimagine her vision for the music, telling Rolling Stone in 2019, “I’m not a musician. I hear something in my head, but it’s not anything that anyone could make into a song. So the idea that people are going to create this album is incredibly exciting to me.”
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Daisy Jones & The Six – Look At Us Now (Honeycomb) [Official Lyric Video]
The series approaches the musical aspect with its own twist by largely departing from Reid’s original titles and lyrics, giving free reign to a music team including producer Brian Mills and songwriters Phoebe Bridgers, Marcus Mumford, Chris Weisman, and more. It features the band singing brand new songs that make up the 11-track album titled “Aurora.” The music, which samples from Fleetwood Mac, feels exactly like what you imagine the band would sound like, and adds another layer to make the group feel wholly real. It’s undeniable, though, that Reid’s original music, regardless of whether it’s as strong as the new version, was an integral part of the book that communicates the nuances of the story and characters.
Billy’s Relationships with Camila and Daisy
The love triangle between Billy, Camila, and Daisy plays a significant role in Daisy Jones & the Six, but the show further emphasizes how it drives the band’s dynamic until it eventually reaches a breaking point.
The show plays up the trio’s increasingly tense and chemistry-filled relationship as Billy and Daisy’s feelings for each other grow more apparent and Camila in turn becomes more aware of it. Given that the book relies on the memories of its characters, it prevents us from getting a full view of what they were feeling in the moment. An advantage of the show is that it’s able to show that, especially when it comes to Camila’s emotional response to seeing her husband develop feelings for someone else while never pitting herself against Daisy.
Jihane Bousfiha is a freelance culture writer based in Florida. Her work has appeared in Vulture, The Daily Beast, W Magazine, Paste Magazine, The Cut, and more. You can find her on Twitter @jihanebousfiha_.