The Women of Daisy Jones Know: There Was Never Only One Love Story

The love triangle—you know the one—was always destined to absorb the spotlight. In both the Daisy Jones and the Six television series and the book upon which it’s based, the attraction between rockstars Daisy Jones (Riley Keough) and Billy Dunne (Sam Claflin) is the tidal wave around which the other characters are forced to swim, and sometimes drown. That, of course, includes Camila Dunne (Camila Morrone), Billy’s first love and, rather inconveniently, his devoted wife. Like the real-life ’70s rumors that inspired it, Daisy and Billy’s barely restrained passion ignites and devours everything in its orbit, hitting its peak in the show’s highly anticipated final episodes, out now on Prime Video.

The problem with this love triangle is also its greatest asset: It draws the eye. It captures your attention. As it revs up, so does the intensity of the entire series. But such an all-consuming romance makes it easy to miss what the women of Daisy Jones know from spending years with their characters: There was never just one pair setting sparks. Everyone needed electricity thrumming between them, and particularly the actresses, each playing a woman at odds with their circumstances—and in need of allies.

“It’s so funny,” says Morrone, when I call her to discuss the series’ final episodes. “Because when I signed on, I had to chemistry read with Riley. Most people would be like, ‘Why are you chemistry reading with Riley when Billy Dunne is your husband?’” Morrone thinks it’s obvious: “These two women do have to have chemistry. It’s chemistry in that two women—really, at their core—love each other, and really admire qualities that each of them doesn’t have that the other has.”

The reason the series works on any level is because Daisy and Billy are not the only characters caught in a web of lust and identity crisis, loyalty and insecurity, nor are they the ones they can depend upon to untangle it. Out of the entire cast, Daisy Jones’ four main women—Daisy, Camila, Karen (Suki Waterhouse), and Simone (Nabiyah Be)—are the characters most earnestly forming support systems between them. (Platonic love triangles, if you will.) The show would not work without them. They fight for one another’s wholeness in a pre-“lean in” era but amid the Women’s Liberation Movement, when “multi-faceted” was only just becoming a more common adjective lofted at women of child-bearing age. As such, it’s possibly inaccurate to call Daisy, Camila, and Billy’s imbroglio a classic love triangle: Daisy and Camila have too much respect for each other to open fire.

“[Daisy and Camila] really, at their core—love each other, and really admire qualities that each of them doesn’t have that the other has.” —Camila Morrone

When I bring this up with Keough, she shares the same core belief: Daisy and Camila want what the other has, and that Billy isn’t the exclusive target of their yearning. Camila wants Daisy’s magnetism. Daisy wants Camila’s security. They’re just as much in relationship with each other as Billy is with them. “A lot of women, including myself, don’t feel like they, maybe, meet the standard of ‘woman, mother, wife’ that has been fed to our society,” Keough says. “I think Daisy’s very triggered by this perfect woman in Billy’s eyes and in her eyes.”

That insecurity ultimately manifests not as outrage, but in a key moment of foresight between the women. In a scene during the penultimate episode, the band touches down in The Six’s hometown of Pittsburgh, and Daisy gets a first-person look into the glow of Camila’s family life as she plays with the Dunnes’ daughter, Julia. “She is obsessed with you,” Camila tells Daisy, later asking the singer if she ever thinks about having kids. Daisy bats away the idea instinctively. She was an inconvenience to her own mother; as a card-carrying hot mess herself, she’d prefer not to inflict the same traumas on a child of her own.

Camila leans back on her wrists, assessing the woman she’d be forgiven for perceiving simply as competition for her husband’s bed. Instead, she says, “Don’t count yourself out this early, Daisy. You are all sorts of things you don’t even know.”

It’d be tempting to interpret this as a bit of condescending traditionalism, force-feeding motherhood upon the unwilling simply because all women must eventually want children, right? But then Camila does something interesting. She walks up to the back porch, where The Six’s keyboardist, Karen, has emerged with an air of terror.

Karen never says what’s affixed that lightning-bolt look to her face, but we know from episodes prior: She’s pregnant, accidentally, and with the baby of Billy’s brother, Graham (Will Harrison). It takes no more than a few seconds for this reality to dawn on Camila. After releasing a slow breath through pursed lips, all she says is, “I’m sorry,” as she draws Karen into her arms. Later in the episode, Camila drives Karen to a reproductive health clinic, and Karen gets an abortion. Camila never tries to convince her otherwise.

suki waterhouse as karen sirko and camila morrone as camila dunne

Waterhouse as Karen and Morrone as Camila.

Lacey Terrell/Prime Video

Filmmaker Nzingha Stewart—who directed multiple Daisy Jones and the Six episodes, including the final two—says there was originally a scene in which Camila and Karen discussed Karen’s decision, but ultimately, she and co-showrunner Scott Neustadter decided it wasn’t necessary. Camila’s actions communicated everything important about her commitment to Karen, even as she, herself, asked Billy if they might have another baby. The juxtaposition of these three scenes—Camila telling Daisy not to give up on being a mother, Camila supporting Karen’s choice to never become one, and Camila hoping to expand her own family with Billy—was “one of the most important things in the episode,” Stewart says.

“What [the characters] were doing in that moment is saying, ‘Motherhood is a beautiful part of being a woman, but it doesn’t define you as a woman,’” Stewart says. “‘It’s not what makes you a woman.’ And that was in the ’70s!” She pauses, thinking back to an exchange in her own life, when the subject of motherhood came up during a writers’ room meeting on a different project.

“The [other writers] were like, ‘Well, [all women] really want kids,’” she says. “And I was like, ‘I don’t.’ And literally a man said to me, ‘Then, what is your point?’”

And so it was, in perhaps a less obtuse manner, with Karen’s boyfriend, Graham. When Karen reveals her pregnancy, he’s ecstatic and supportive, already assuming she’d leave the band to care for the child. (Says Waterhouse when I ask about this scene: “It’s like a nightmare. You can’t hate him. It’s sort of like a sweet misogyny.”) After later learning of her abortion, he tries to jab her with a bit of his own pain. “You’re gonna be alone, forever,” he tells her. “You know that, right?”

It’s not Graham who understands Karen’s need for independence, but rather Camila, ironically the ideal of the “young wife, young mother” trope. Morrone thinks that depiction echoes the reality of female friendships in her own life. “I’ve got friends who—even at my age, I’m 25—they already know that they don’t want to be moms,” she says. “I want to have four children, and I can’t wait to be a mom. And it’s the thing I look forward to the most in my life. And that doesn’t create a wedge between us; it’s not even a factor in our relationships.”

Waterhouse also notes the emotional tissue connecting Karen, Graham, Billy, and Camila: while Camila is fighting for the love of her life, Karen is letting hers go. “It’s two conflicting, ginormous decisions to make,” Waterhouse says. “And it’s one of those moments you share with women in your life, where there are decisions that will affect the rest of your life.”

There’s yet another platonic love triangle between women in Daisy Jones: the relationship between disco star Simone, her secret lover Bernie (Ayesha Harris), and Daisy. In an arc absent in the original book by Taylor Jenkins Reid, Daisy’s best friend, Simone, falls in love with a DJ named Bernie as she attempts to shoot through the disco charts and do what Daisy did: become a star. But as Simone’s relationship with Bernie becomes more serious, her one with Daisy becomes more tenuous. Thus the latter becomes one of the more nuanced relationships in the series, ruffled by Daisy’s inherent privilege and Simone’s competing instincts.

Prior to a horrible fallout in Greece in episode 7, when a recently married Daisy accuses Simone of being in love with her, Daisy and Simone were each other’s closest allies in the Los Angeles music scene. “[Daisy’s] relationship with women is a little bit fractured because of her mother, and her self-esteem isn’t super high,” Keough says. Be sees similar parallels in Simone, ones complicated by Simone’s reality as a lesbian Black woman in the ’70s.

“I think a lot of Black women are really used to living life, experiencing their emotions either privately, or doing a lot of things on their own.” —Nabiyah Be

“Simone was equally lonely as Daisy,” Be says. “It’s just that her way of navigating that loneliness was more strategic than Daisy. She had to always be polite, had to always be smiling.”

She continues, “I think a lot of Black women are really used to living life, experiencing their emotions either privately, or doing a lot of things on their own. [Simone] was so conditioned to fit into a mold that was the easiest one for her to survive…I find that, for a lot of Black women who are able to express their rage and their impatience with the world, it’s also an extremely unsafe way to go about life. So, yeah, Simone is not someone who was as comfortable dealing with her emotions until Bernie comes into the picture.”

Daisy, as thrilled as she is for Simone to have found the love of her life, has a hard time understanding that Simone’s life is now tied to Bernie’s, and not hers. She repeatedly abuses Simone’s trust as she careens between Billy and her husband, Nicky (Gavin Drea), which eventually leads Simone to cut off contact entirely. Only in episode 9 do they finally reunite, with Daisy in tears as she pleads, “I want us to be okay.” In episode 10, when they are okay, it’s Simone who’s the only one honest enough to be straight with Daisy, as the latter shares how Billy’s presence has consumed her life. Maybe she “can’t do this anymore,” Daisy says. “If it hurts you this much,” Simone says, “maybe you shouldn’t.”

riley keough as daisy jones and nabiyah be as simone jackson

Keough as Daisy and Be as Simone.

Lacey Terrell/Prime Video

This tension leads up to the finale episode, featuring the band’s final concert in Chicago, where it’s clear from the outset that the end of The Six as everyone knows it is nigh. Each of the women staggers through the episode as if haunted by premonition, filming a performance that Waterhouse says “felt incredibly operatic. It felt like the closing number of a symphony.”

Simone, invited onstage to perform with Daisy, has chosen to reject her homophobic record label and forego her dreams for a life with Bernie. Karen has ended her pregnancy—and, soon enough, her relationship with Graham—for even just the chance of a fulfilling career in rock ‘n’ roll. Camila has realized the extent of Billy’s love for Daisy, and believes it best to remove herself from the fray. And Daisy has slowly recognized that she can no longer afford to be selfish. If she remains with this band, it will destroy them—and her with it. As she tells a relapsed, desperate Billy: “I don’t want to be broken.”

As they each reckon with these realities, Daisy makes two choices, one which fans are more likely to discuss, and one which I, personally, found the most intriguing. The first is that she lets Billy go, nodding to him to leave the Chicago stage behind and physically sprint after his fleeing wife. But the second is that, in her billowing white Halston caftan, she floats over to Karen at the keyboards. She says nothing. Karen says nothing. But they cradle each other’s heads on their shoulders, trading a wordless understanding that the story is nearing its end and that, as women, they will be the ones having to make the heaviest sacrifices.

“[Karen] knows how valuable these women are. I mean, she never turns on any of them.” —Suki Waterhouse

Keough, when asked about this moment, says, “As actors, a lot of our job and musicians’ jobs is to perform despite life. And that was a moment I could identify with. We’ve all experienced that feeling of having to get on stage or film or whatever, and having life happen simultaneously. I think [going to Karen] was a moment for Daisy to let her know that her life is more important than this moment in this show.” It’s a moment of love between these women, a love arguably more pure—or at least less tortured—than the relationships swirling around them in the scene.

As Waterhouse puts it, Karen “knows how valuable these women are. I mean, she never turns on any of them. She never hates any of them. She understands they’re full human beings and their intricacies and how complex they are.” Unlike in virtually all the other relationships in the series, “There’s never a jealousy in Karen.”

Of course, it was always going to come down to the love triangle. In the last, gutting moments of the finale, the romance between Billy, Daisy and Camila finally reaches its apex.

As it happens in the book, so it happens on screen. The characters grow older. Camila gets terminal cancer. And in her interview with her daughter—a grown-up Julia, now chronicling the history of Daisy Jones and the Six for posterity—Camila makes one final request: “One day, when he’s ready, tell your father to give Daisy Jones a call. And tell Daisy Jones to answer. At the very least, those two still owe me a song.”

I ask Morrone what she makes of this scene, what it represents. Is this Camila telling Billy and Daisy to finally get together, after so many years apart? “This is the hardest question that I experienced in the exploring of this character,” she says. “What an incredible woman to know the way that your husband feels about another woman, the way that he loves her—even though he does’t pursue it, even though he is faithful to Camila till the very end. Even though he loves her and chooses her, she always knows in her gut and in her stomach and in her womanly instinct that all of us women have, that he feels things for Daisy that she’ll never be able to compete with or take from him or convince him out of.”

She continues, “To sit back looking at her life and to let her husband go, to understand that it does’t take away from their love and what they had, takes a lot of strength. I think it’s the most admirable moment in the whole show.”

nzingha stewart

Director Nzingha Stewart at the premiere of Daisy Jones and the Six.

Vivien Killilea//Getty Images

When I bring up this exchange, director Stewart’s voice gets thick. “You’re going to make me cry even remembering it,” she says. “I do always sort of think of these projects as my babies. I don’t have kids. I show off pictures of my work. … After we wrapped, Suki and Camila both sent me letters that said there was such a maternal energy, and they felt like they were so taken care of by a mother.”

She gets emotional recalling filming the last scene, when Morrone, who was reading with another actress, requested to read with Stewart. “She was like, ‘I need it to be Nzingha. I need her to ask me the questions,’ Stewart says. “And so I sat across from her, and both of us were crying, looking at each other doing that scene. I said to her, ‘This is real love. I still want this man to be happy. And I still think there may be something there that can be there for him after I’m gone.’”

“After we wrapped, Suki and Camila both sent me letters that said there was such a maternal energy, and they felt like they were so taken care of by a mother.” —Nzingha Stewart

What Camila understood in that moment was not only Billy’s need for companionship after her death, but Daisy’s growth as a companion. Years later, Daisy is finally, to use her own words, no longer “broken.” Simone—and of course it was Simone—has helped her through rehab. Daisy has developed icon status on her own merits. As she tells Julia, she’s had many great loves. She has a daughter. She is not the woman who once indulged her worst instincts, and tempted Billy’s. Even from afar, even after many years apart, Camila sees that and chooses to extend Daisy love, the chance for long-stalled dreams to be fulfilled.

As Camila tells Julia in one of the most telling line deliveries of the whole series: Daisy’s “made such a beautiful life for herself.” Camila pauses, smiles. “And, well. I’ve always been her biggest fan.”

Headshot of Lauren Puckett-Pope

Culture Writer

Lauren Puckett-Pope is a staff culture writer at ELLE, where she primarily covers film, television and books. She was previously an associate editor at ELLE. 


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