Daisy Jones & The Six From Book to Screen
A look at the anticipated series Daisy Jones & The Six and the evolution of fan experience
One of the most highly anticipated book-to-screen adaptations of the year is Daisy Jones & The Six, a 10-episode miniseries premiering on March 3, 2023 and airing in 4 parts on Amazon Prime. Based on the New York Times bestselling novel of the same name by Taylor Jenkins Reid, the cast includes Riley Keough (the granddaughter of Elvis Presley and daughter of Lisa Marie), Sam Claflin, Camila Morrone, Suki Waterhouse, Will Harrison, Sebastian Chacon, Josh Whitehouse, Nabiya Be, Timothy Olyphant, and more.
When the book was published in 2019, Reid was a prolific author whose early beloved contemporary fiction novels dealt with the complexities of life and love–Forever, Interrupted; After I Do; Maybe In Another Life; One True Loves. Her 2017 novel The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was a turn to historical fiction, but Reid took worldbuilding an epic step further by conjuring a fictional celebrity whose life she could write about. Daisy Jones & The Six followed suit, as did later books Malibu Rising and Carrie Soto is Back, with fictional famous heroines as the subjects of her storytelling. Evelyn Hugo and Daisy Jones both hit the New York Times Bestseller lists and stayed there for weeks on end. This level of success made Taylor Jenkins Reid a literary celebrity in her own right, and Malibu Rising and Carrie Soto is Back were instant bestsellers as a result.
When Daisy Jones & The Six was released, Kirkus Reviews noted of the plot, “the addition of Daisy to The Six forever changes the chemistry of the band, for better and worse.” This got me thinking: What happens to the chemistry of story experience when characters and plotlines that once lived in your head now appear onscreen or in any other format?
Daisy Jones & The Six: an innovative novel
Daisy Jones and The Six reads as an oral history of a legendary and wildly successful 1970s band. Through interviews with band members, friends, and acquaintances, the novel charts how the moderately successful band The Six came together with the young, feisty, inexperienced-but-talented singer Daisy Jones for what would become their hit album, Aurora. It’s the story of their subsequent rise to stardom and the devastating ups and downs of fame. (Think Fleetwood Mac and the recording of their album Rumours, a rock and roll saga filled with legendary drama which partly inspired Reid’s fiction.) The one-sided interviews read as a linear story. The reader has to read between the lines of what’s being said as the characters jump off the page with little context from an omniscient narrator. This innovative style of writing on Reid’s part is genius: the reader isn’t engrossed in a novel anymore; they’re hearing from each member of this legendary group of musicians, in their own words, about how things really went down. To further the narrative that this was a *real* band with a *real* history, the book includes lyrics to Aurora, the entire fictional album depicted in the novel.
Book or Series?
The trailer for the Daisy Jones & The Six series was released in mid-February, and fans of the book got really excited. And I get it: there’s something incredibly unique about the moment you see the first glimpse of characters you loved on the written page in the flesh on screen. I always get a rush of adrenaline when I see a trailer for a movie or series based on a book I couldn’t put down, and I know I’m hardly alone.
But it feels risky too, doesn’t it? A film adaptation is someone else’s interpretation of what you read. In fact, it is the result of hundreds of interpretations dependent on screenwriters, producers, actors, editors, cinematographers, directors, and more. What if the content looks so different from the way it looked in your mind’s eye when you read it? What if watching the movie alters your experience with the story overall? This is why I laugh when in Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, “Fall” Lorelai is asked “book or movie?” when she shows up to hike the Pacific Crest Trail because she read the book Wild. We consume stories in varied adaptations, and those experiences can be so different. Lorelai, in her mind, is following in author Cheryl Strayed’s footsteps, while some of her fellow hikers fancy themselves Reese Witherspoon. And the “book or movie?” joke was a bit of snark over the kind of consumer who would watch the movie instead of reading the book. (Coincidentally, Reese Witherspoon, known book enthusiast, is also responsible for the Daisy Jones screen adaptation.)
Taylor Jenkins Reid subverted this when she wrote a novel that could work in so many mediums. For Daisy Jones & The Six, she used a literary format that set up many additional ways to enjoy the story itself. Just as Daisy changes the chemistry of the band, each iteration of this novel enriches the overall story. The audio version of the novel boasts a full cast, something that doesn’t happen for most releases in the audiobook publishing world. Many fans feel the audiobook offers a better experience than the read-alone. And it’s not surprising, given the big Hollywood names that lent their voices to the recording: Jennifer Beals, Benjamin Bratt, Pablo Schreiber, and Judy Greer appear alongside a huge cast–including the undeniable star of the audiobook landscape, Julia Whelan (if you know, you know).
You can listen to Aurora!
The creation of the TV series meant that the music would actually have to be heard. Of course, readers of the book could read the album lyrics and conjure their own melodies around them. But a TV series created a unique opportunity for Aurora to exist as a real album. It drops just in time for the series, available for download, stream, and even purchase on vinyl. Musical artists Phoebe Bridgers, Madison Cunningham, Marcus Mumford and Jackson Brown all contributed to the writing of the tracks alongside lead writer and producer Blake Mills. Two full tracks are already available: “Regret Me,” and “Look At Us Now (Honeycomb).” Fans love to dissect an album by their favorite artist to glean an introspective look into the personal lives of the musicians. It’s been four-plus decades since Fleetwood Mac made Rumours and fans are still talking about what happened behind the scenes, using the band’s lyrics to guide the investigation. Listening to Aurora is another way to experience the true story of Daisy Jones & The Six the band as well as Daisy Jones & The Six the novel.
There are so many ways to experience story
As story lovers, I think it’s time to divorce ourselves from the “book or movie?” dichotomy of experience. Source material is a jumping-off point, and fans usually love when a storyworld expands and expands. We know this from the fandoms surrounding lots of giant movie franchises, video games, etc. New mediums offer alternate ways to experience our favorite characters and stories. We might enjoy those adaptations outright, or use them as a baseline for debate. Finding other fans to discuss how well or not the source material was interpreted can be an exciting part of fandom itself. In any case, the experience of story doesn’t have to end when the last page is read or final credits shown. The possibilities are endless.
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