The following contains spoilers for 'Firefly Lane.'
What do you get when Grey’s Anatomy–level drama meets How I Met Your Mother–style writing? You get Firefly Lane, a soapy Netflix comedy–drama series whose cheesiness is perfect for some and painful for others. The show stars Katherine Heigl and Sarah Chalke, with Heigl also executive producing, and is somewhat loosely based on the novel by Kristin Hannah. The series attempts to cram 30 years of friendship into ten episodes, and the result is a handful of underdeveloped, disconnected plot points. Paired with confusing timelines jumping unexpectedly between the '70s, '80s, and early 2000s, the show is disjointed and keeps you on your toes.
The main characters, Kate and Tully, meet as teenagers when Tully moves next door to Kate in the '70s. Tully becomes popular despite being the new kid, while Kate remains invisible. This dynamic follows them to their first jobs as journalists a decade later, and then to their friendship as adults in 2003. Kate is the quiet, klutzy, mousy one, and Tully is a larger–than–life, glamorous force to be reckoned with. Kate is a mid–divorce, stay–at–home mom trying to get back into the workforce, while Tully is a famous talk show host for The Girlfriend Hour— the most important television program in Seattle, apparently.
For the most part, the characters face conflicts together, even when the problem they're facing only affects one of them. The plot points are reminiscent of the cheesiest soap operas, and the show completely disregards any long–term effects they may have on the characters. It’s not surprising that Firefly Lane is more popular among viewers than critics. For example, Kate's dog dies in the middle of the series completely out of the blue, even though the audience isn't made aware her family has a dog. Why was he never shown or even mentioned until his heartbreaking death?
Unfortunately, the death of a dog is one of the least traumatic events Firefly Lane covers—and worse, heavier topics get the same cavalier treatment.
In the first episode, Kate’s daughter Marah wants to start birth control, because everyone's on it and she wants to fit in. Marah knows her mom would never say yes, so she goes behind her back and asks her "cool" Aunt Tully to sign the required parental consent form. Though Tully only signs on the condition that Marah will speak to Kate, all does not go as planned, and Kate finds the forms. She is understandably furious at her best friend. After one day, the pair makes up when Tully apologizes—and the incident is never mentioned again. One might think such a breach of trust would cause more damage to a friendship, or that Tully would need to receive a serious talking–to before being forgiven, or even that Kate would need to sit down with Marah. Of course, this is not the case, because the next big twist is only minutes away.
In the second episode, set in the '70s, Tully goes to a party with a popular boy. He gets her drunk and takes her to the woods where he forces himself on her, telling her she doesn't want to be a tease. Rape is a highly sensitive subject, and this scene is definitely hard to watch. Firefly Lane does a good job showing the stigma that often surrounds survivors of sexual assault—the boy can’t seem to understand why he wronged Tully, girls call her a slut in the hallway, and she’s afraid to tell anyone what happened due to the fear that no one will believe her. However, because this story is limited to the '70s plot line, we never see how this affects Tully later on in life. By failing to address this topic when Tully is an adult, the show neglects the lasting impact sexual assault has on survivors.
Toward the end of the season, Tully gets pregnant. In another harrowing scene, she miscarries. After spending days in a complete haze, Tully rushes to get back on air in her show. She steps away from the script to come out about her miscarriage and ask her audience about their own experiences. This happens at the very end of the series, but based on the show's pattern so far, it’s a coin toss as to whether Tully’s miscarriage trauma will be addressed in season two.
Firefly Lane gives slightly more careful attention to two other personal battles. One is Tully’s tumultuous relationship with her mother, which acts as a through–line throughout the show and is covered in each timeline. The other is Kate's brother Sean, who struggles with his sexuality from the beginning to the end of the show. These struggles of interpersonal relationships are widely–relatable, and the show does a decent job portraying the wide range of emotions people feel when they face these issues.
All of this is not to mention Kate’s mother’s affair, her past and present relationship with husband Johnny, an exposé regarding Tully's mother, and Johnny punching a PTA dad at Marah’s piano recital. With divorce, infidelity, trauma, friendship, parenting, loss, and everything in–between, there’s never a dull moment in Firefly Lane. But if you want never–ending entertainment, just know you’ll be sacrificing some serious attention to detail.