Following the success of Bridgerton, Netflix adapts another bestselling novel in Firefly Lane. The most remarkable love story of all can be between friends. When unlikely duo Tully (Katherine Heigl) and Kate (Sarah Chalke) meet at age fourteen, they couldn't be more different. Tully is the brash and bold girl you can't ignore, while Kate is the mousy shy girl you never even notice. But when a tragedy brings them together, they are bonded for life -- forever inseparable as best friends. Together, they experience thirty years of ups and downs, triumphs and disappointments, heartbreak and joy, and a love triangle that strains their friendship. One goes on to fabulous wealth and fame while the other chooses marriage and motherhood, but their bond remains until it faces the ultimate test through the decades.
When I saw the initial promo materials for Firefly Lane, I assumed that the series was going to be a modernized take on the 1988 classic, Beaches. Now there's nothing wrong with that, as a lifelong friendship is one of the most straightforward stories to tell. However, Firefly Lane's creator and showrunner Maggie Friedman worked closely with the book's author Kristin Hannah to ensure that Firefly Lane's first season stands on its own.
Episode 1, titled "Hello Yellow Brick Road" introduces us to a young Tully (London Roberston) as her mother Cloud (Beau Garrett) reenters her life. Through a series of events, Tully, now age thirteen (Ali Skovbye), and her mother end up in Washington State where Tully strikes up a friendship with new neighbor Kate (Roan Curtis). The characters introduced in the first episode all play a vital part in the season include Kate's estranged husband Johnny (Bean Lawson), and her daughter Marah (Yael Yurman). There's also Max Brody (Jon—Michael Ecker), Tully's love interest. The first episode piqued my interest, but when Episode 2 ended with Kate dressed in black, heading to a funeral, I had to know who she was mourning. I end up binging the rest of the series in one night.
Firefly Lane is a great series return for Katherine Heigl. I hadn't followed any of her television work since she vacated Izzie Stevens's role on Grey's Anatomy over a decade ago. Heigl has some great comedic timing as Tully while providing layers to a woman who has never fully dealt with the traumas and heartache experienced as a child. On the surface, Tully only appears to have it all. Still, I loved the arc the show gives her and how she handles the facets of relationships throughout the season, particularly her relationships with her mother and Max.
Kudos must also go to Sarah Chalke for her portrayal of Kate. Of the two, Chalke's character is the most devoid of plot armor. However, the various debacles she finds herself in are handled with a humorous tact. Some of Chalke's best moments involve her flirtatious banter with a single parent and possible love interest Travis (Brandon Jay McLaren). Chalke also has significant interactions with Ben Lawson and Yael Yurman, who portray her husband and daughter.
Given that the show spans thirty years, you know there's a great soundtrack. Some of the artists featured include Spandau Ballet, Carly Simon, and Night Ranger. The songs the production team chose to use all fit correctly in the scenes that they are used in. I also loved the beautiful simplicity of the series score, composed by Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman.
Overall, I enjoyed Firefly Lane; however, there were some small grievances I had with the show. A few plot points weren't wrapped up as tightly as I had hoped, and the shifting of timelines may annoy some viewers. Furthermore, the season finale left me wanting more, and I would have loved a small tease of why we end up with the cliffhanger that we do. Nevertheless, Katherine Heigl and Sarah Chalke's chemistry makes up for issues that I had with the show, and I look forward to season two.
Final Grade B+
Firefly Lane premieres globally on Netflix on February 3, 2021