'Daisy Jones & the Six' Was Partially Inspired by Broken Social Scene's "Sordid" History

"Those things may seem glorified, but [that's] what happens when you get a group of 12 women and men and throw them on a tour bus when they're in their 20s and they get paid in alcohol"

Photo: Broken Social Scene by Richmond Lam (left), Daisy Jones & the Six by Lacey Terrell / Prime Video

BY Megan LaPierrePublished Apr 10, 2023

While Rumours might be the most notorious breakup album of all time, the interpersonal dynamics of Fleetwood Mac weren't the only reference point for Prime Video's hit TV adaptation of Taylor Jenkins Reid's 2019 novel Daisy Jones & the Six. As it turns out, the show's creators sought the input of another band with a similarly storied history of romantic entanglements: Broken Social Scene.

According to the Daisy Jones & the Six episode credits, Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon served as a consultant on the show — as did four names from the interconnected web of the Canadian collective, with Amy Millan, Brendan Canning, Andrew Whiteman and Ariel Engle having been invited to spend a day in Los Angeles and attend a follow-up Zoom session with the show's writers' room.

Although it might be lower-profile, as Millan told Slate's Carl Wilson, BSS's history of band drama is equally rich and "sordid." 

"We were interested in getting details of what the day-to-day life of being on the road is," Daisy Jones writer and executive story editor Jihan Crowther, who had the idea to consult Broken Social Scene's members, explained. "How are people living together, working together? … And [given Daisy Jones's romance-tangled storyline], it was helpful to have bands where there were men and women in the band together."

"I think it's impossible to get a collective of people and not have conflict," said Millan. "And generally how we tried to channel the conflict was into a better show or a more charged take in the studio. All those things may seem glorified, but they're very honestly what happens when you get a group of 12 women and men and throw them on a tour bus, when they're in their 20s and they get paid in alcohol."

Some of the BSS lore is well-known, like Millan's former engagement to the keyboard player of her main band Stars and her going on to marry the bassist instead, or occasional singer Emily Haines starting Metric with her then-partner James Shaw and carrying on many years beyond their split. When the collective formed in 1999, Canning and Leslie Feist were exes, and she was dating Whiteman — and went on to date the band's Kevin Drew — and now Whiteman is married to Engle.

"[Your] story is never just your own," Millan explained. "It always also belongs to the other people in the story. Which made the anonymity of telling our tumultuous histories in the writers' room much simpler — if they used anything, it would then unfold as other characters."

Whiteman added, "Neither Brendan nor I were that comfortable spilling secrets. I think what we really tried was to give them a portrait of the psyche of a touring musician — and how, slowly, the more time you spend on the road, how that can get really fucked up. … You really are in a submarine. You are looking out those little windows, bonding with the people you're with in intense and unusual ways, in the otherness of that life."

Michael Barclay, author of Hearts on Fire — a recent book on the aughts Canadian indie music explosion — thinks BSS's complex and incestuous web of bands and couples might be unique to its locale.

"I don't get too theoretical about it, but it seems like an unusually Canadian thing," Barclay told Wilson. "I'm not just talking about Broken Social Scene in Toronto. I'm talking about New Pornographers in Vancouver. I'm talking about Godspeed! You Black Emperor and the Constellation Records scene in Montreal. I can't think of a lot of other cities that birth one big band that has all these other bands embedded inside it."

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