Hooked on TV’s nostalgia drug? There’s a cure for your Daisy Jones withdrawals

Weren’t the ’70s great? Spending all our time falling in and out of clubs on the Sunset Strip, mingling with the next big thing and the current big thing, all of us wearing feather boas. Sitting around in someone’s backyard in leafy Laurel Canyon, watching illicit smoke curl up into the sky as we all sing along to a song we all inexplicably know the words to. Those were the days!

Wait a second, I didn’t exist in the 1970s. I’ve never even been to Laurel Canyon. Even if both of those things had been true, it probably wouldn’t have been like that (though I do have a secret yearning to incorporate more feathers into my life). But does that matter? I don’t think so. Pop culture often depicts a sepia-toned version of America’s golden age of rock’n’roll that seems too exciting, too glamorous and too creatively bombastic to ever possibly exist. Whether it’s real or not doesn’t make much difference. Nostalgia is a hell of a drug and television knows exactly how to dole this drug out.

Riley Keough, Sam Claflin and Camila Morrone in Daisy Jones and the Six.Credit:Lacey Terrell/Prime Video

The last two episodes of Daisy Jones and the Six dropped on Prime Video last week, but don’t worry if you haven’t kept up to date – the show aired in two and three-episode drops, so it’s the kind of thing that audiences will come to in waves. It’s a faux “behind the music” story of the rise (and we’re told at the beginning, the fall) of a band whose internal conflict both drives their music and eventually tears them apart. If that premise sounds kind of familiar, it’s because the book by Taylor Jenkins Reid that the show is based on was inspired by the tumultuous relationships inside Fleetwood Mac which, insanely, are even more tangled and debaucherous than the fictional reimagining.

Allegedly, Reid came up with the idea for her book while watching a video of Fleetwood Mac performing Silver Springs in Burbank, California, in 1997, in which ex-lovers Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham are glaring at each other with the intensity of a thousand suns. If you want to seetwo people singing at each other while looking like they can’t decide if they want to kiss or rip each other’s heads off, I really recommend watching it.

Billy (Sam Claflin) is the tormented lead singer of the Six, who becomes more tormented when the wild Daisy (Riley Keough) joins the band. Daisy is a creative lightning rod who threatens to tempt him away from sobriety and his photographer wife, Camila (Camila Morrone), but she’s far more than just a muse. Daisy is complicated, ambitious and conflicted by her own feelings for Billy, who she also has an intense creative connection with. They’re not the only romance happening in the band (no spoilers) but their will-they-or-won’t-they energy is what catapults the music into new heights of success. As viewers, we’re just waiting for the moment this all comes crashing down.

Daisy (Riley Keough) is a creative lightning rod and a tormenting force for Billy (Sam Claflin).Credit:Amazon Studios

The ’70s is a time period that pop culture has already romanticised to the hilt, and the show is cognisant of this. In the press around Daisy Jones, the attention to detail and authenticity in both the costuming and the music (written in part by Phoebe Bridgers, Marcus Mumford and actual ’70s icon Jackson Browne) was emphasised. At the same time, the show isn’t tacky or obvious in its interaction with the time period. Really, it doesn’t interact with the events of the ’70s that much at all – for example, no one yells “goddammit Nixon!” It might have been nice to see the Six interact with other bands of that era, but that can all get very goofy if not done properly. As it is, the show doesn’t feel like it’s justifying its setting or wringing every bit of significance out of its era, which can feel a bit wink winky when other shows do it.

Pat Benatar performing in New Jersey in 1981 in Women Who Rock.Credit:SBS

The real romances in Daisy Jones and the Six are the ones between the women, all trying to navigate an industry (and society) that treats them as ornamental and frivolous. The rocky relationship between Daisy and her best friend Simone (Nabiyah Be) is a heartbreaking throughline of the show, with Simone trying to navigate her own musical career in the discos of New York as a queer woman of colour, while being pulled back into chaos by the much more privileged and much more destructive Daisy. Karen (Suki Waterhouse) the keyboardist of the Six, is both a companion for Camila, insisting that she’s the shadow “sixth” member of the band, and an ally for Daisy when she’s standing in recording studio rooms full of dismissive men. Camila is the one who sees the potential in Daisy and Billy’s creative partnership and pushes them to collaborate.

If you’re already experiencing Daisy Jones withdrawals – and buying an acoustic guitar and sewing fringing on all your clothes doesn’t seem to be helping – I recommend watching the documentary series Women Who Rock on SBS On Demand. Directed by accomplished music critic Jessica Hopper, the show talks to women who played an influential role in rock music from the 1950s onwards, musicians who were often overlooked or maligned due to their presence in a male dominated (and controlled) arena.

There’s a decent amount of music industry gossip, sure, but the best part of the four-part series is hearing these artists talk about the women who inspired them to pick up guitars or drumsticks or microphones. (Yes, Stevie Nicks is mentioned, yes, she is described very warmly as a “witch”.) In Women Who Rock, women are not just inspiring the music but making it themselves, seemingly in dialogue with each other throughout the decades in writing their own stories and encouraging each other to be bolder and sing louder.

Find out the next TV, streaming series and movies to add to your must-sees. Get The Watchlist delivered every Thursday.

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