Firefly Lane is a Warm Tale of Love and Friendship
*Content Warning: Mild Discussion of Sexual Assault
I’ll be the first to admit, I almost didn’t watch Netflix’s newest drama Firefly Lane, starring Katherine Heigl (Tallulah “Tully” Hart) and Sarah Chalke (Kate Mularkey). At first glance it seemed just a little too wine momish, but it was the middle of winter break and I had blown through most of my Netflix queue, so I gave it a chance, and I am so glad that I did.
Based on Kristin Hannah’s 2008 novel of the same name, the tale spans almost four decades, through the ups and downs of Kate and Tully’s friendship as they grow. Our story begins in the summer of 1974 when fourteen year old Tully and her mother move to Snohomish, WA, into the house on firefly lane, right next to the Mularkey Family. Over the years, the two attend college and pursue careers in broadcast journalism in the eighties, begin their budding professional and family lives in the nineties, and find success and devastation in the early two thousands.
Total opposites, the two girls become an unlikely but inseparable pair. Where Kate is introverted and dorky, Tully is a social butterfly and full of rebellion. Kate comes from the quintessential small town nuclear family, and Tully was raised by her hippy dippy mother, Cloud who can barely keep the lights on. Their differences are a perfect representation of what society in the mid 1970s, amid civil unrest and cultural revolution, looked like. Kate and her family are the perfect white middle class suburbaners. Tully, who grew up around Peace protests marijuana are the polar opposite. The contrast among them forced me to think, really think about what it must have been like to be on the brink of young adulthood at a time when the world was rapidly changing. It was the perfect balance of teenage jealousy and admiration of a best friend.
I found the tension between Tully and Kate to be quite realistic, especially as it becomes more and more nuanced as the girls’ lives become intertwined.. Often in our media, women are shown either tearing each other down or as the best of friends, but neither extreme is as accurate as the intricacies shown in Firefly Lane.
During the first half of the season, we see Kate support Tully through her rape as a teenager, and Tully push Kate to be a better reporter, but midway through it is revealed that at the most current time, around 2005, the women are no longer on speaking terms, for unknown reasons. The dramatic shift in tone shocked me, and left me wondering what led to the demise of such a strong friendship. While it isn’t quite revealed in season one, it’s the perfect set up for season two (fingers crossed!).
The one major deferment from the book in the tv show is the lack of chronological time. The show strategically orders their timeline in a way that slowly reveals bits of information which really builds the anticipation. I felt like I was clutching the sofa the entire time, waiting to see what conflict will be the one that finally severs the relationship, a quality I found to be quite unique in a series about two middle aged ladies.
One common theme stuck out to me the entire series. To her credit, Hannah’s story is truly a beautiful comment on human society. The way that her characters subty represented the major players in society, like young hippies, single motherhood, working women, and questions the world Kate and Tully live in creates a truth that I can’t quite name but left me feeling utterly satisfied.