Television, Arts

‘Firefly Lane’ Dances through Decades of Friendship


The Netflix Top 10 in the U.S. Today trending page is no longer dominated by Bridgerton, or at least, momentarily it isn’t. Taking the number one spot is the new Netflix original series, Firefly Lane, which promises comparable amounts of tasteful drama more or less directed to the same audience as its predecessor. 

Firefly Lane was made to be binged. The addictive nature of the show is drawn from the magnetism of the book on which it is based: Kristin Hannah’s 2008 best-selling novel of the same name. The storyline is simple. The plot follows the long-lasting friendship between two childhood best friends who meet as next-door neighbors. The show follows the duo as they become college roommates and journalists all while fostering a friendship so strong they quickly become inseparable. 

Despite the strength of their friendship, Tully Hart (Katherine Heigl) and Kate Mularkey (Sarah Chalke) could not be more different, but the “opposites attract” nature of the characters’ bond is part of what makes the show familiar and addictive. Kate is the careful, conscious, and kind half who provides the friendship with its unshakable foundation. Tully, meanwhile, is the wild, spontaneous, and bruised one who leans on Kate throughout the adversities of her childhood while simultaneously pushing her outside of her comfort zone. The friendship dynamic is nothing new, but the story simply wouldn’t work without it. 

Program creator and executive producer Maggie Friedman made the decision to tell Tully and Kate’s story in a nonlinear narrative. The plot jumps between decades in a This Is Us-esque manner to juxtapose the different eras and emphasize how the characters spent every major stage of their lives by each other’s side. One minute you’re watching the two young teenagers running around their childhood neighborhood (Firefly Lane) in the ’70s, and the next you’re brought to an ’80s club. Finally you find yourself in the early 2000s. The nonlinear nature of the series keeps the plot exciting, leaving purposeful gaps that can only be remedied by continued watching or binging.

With the decision to make the series nonlinear, Friedman emphasizes the glamour and aesthetics of each decade to make the series authentic to the time period in question. Fashion and music are the two main tools used to accomplish this and ultimately serve as two of the main drawing points of the series itself. In the ’70s, teenage Tully and Kate are adorned with blue eyeshadow, go-go boots, and suede skirts. Tully’s mom is a flower child, and their home is therefore decorated with stained glass and ragged tapestries that hang from the ceilings and walls. 

Quickly transitioning to the ’80s, when the pair is in their 20s, short feathered hair hides big hoop earrings that now accessorize the tight and colorful outfits of the characters. The more familiar style of the 2000s dictates the fashion of Tully and Kate in their 40s, who are now struggling to remain topical with cell phones and the changing journalism industry. Ultimately, fashion and trends help provide the show with a variation of aesthetics to appeal to a broad audience. 

Music also helps to distinguish the decades, and more importantly makes them dazzle. Elton John, Duran Duran, and Billie Eilish are played within minutes of each other. The decade diversity in the series’ soundtrack not only makes the show a great recommendation for your mom, but also keeps with the authenticity of the different eras of Tully and Kate’s friendship—what the series is ultimately all about.

The story of Tully and Kate does more than just illuminate the dazzling diversity of aesthetics in the late 20th century, it highlights the importance of best friends. The series does the important service of emphasizing the idea that friends are the true unchanging variable in life. Firefly Lane equates best friends with soulmates. It’s not a story about finding the right guy or the right job, it’s about the journey of finding your way through life with a friend always in the passenger seat.

Photo Courtesy of Netflix

February 7, 2021