The premise of Firefly Lane is built around a female friendship, which is often an interesting theme to explore and watch, but this Netflix series doesn’t leave a mark.
Based on Kristin Hannah’s bestselling novel, Firefly Lane revolves around two best friends, Kate and Tully, whose bond has survived the test of time. They practically grew up together, having been friends since they were 14, and have seen it all together, from high school problems to family issues to the highs and lows in their careers.
The seeds of their friendship were sown in 1974, when Tully Hart moved to Firefly Lane with her drug-addled, good-for-nothing mother, Cloud. Tully immediately became the talk of the town and as fate would have it, ended up befriending her neighbour, Kate Mularkey, who couldn’t be more different from her.
While Tully was bold, popular and “cool”, Kate was the outcast at school, labelled a nerd, and took the popular perception of nerds to a whole new level, wore the biggest glasses ever.
The story of Firefly Lane does not proceed chronologically. The narrative is complexly woven, constantly switching between different timelines and dropping in and out of important moments and milestones that Kate and Tully witnessed together. We see the duo through high school, through college years, their 20s, their early 40s (2003) and there’s even a flash-forward.
But the friendship that the two share and the hurdles that they overcome individually and together, form the heart of the web series.
Katherine Heigl and Sarah Chalke, who play middle-aged Tully and Kate, respectively, are the anchors of Firefly Lane. Their performances and their on-screen camaraderie make the show bearable.
Tully is an endearing, feisty and career-driven woman. She has had a rough past, which contributes to her abandonment and commitment issues down the line. Heigl is able to step into the shoes of her character flawlessly. She is vibrant and brings a character that existed only on paper up until now to life with the right amount of emotions, vulnerability and sadness.
Chalke, on the other hand, is graceful and balmy as Kate. Heigl and Chalke were the perfect choices for the lead roles and one cannot imagine anyone other duo doing a better job.
Ali Skovbye plays the young Tully and delivers a mature performance. Just like Tully stole Kate’s thunder on most occasions, Skovbye also steals the show when compared to Roan Curtis, who serves up an awkward performance.
Beau Garrett, who played Tully’s mother in all the timelines, gives a strong and convincing performance. She makes Cloud seem human and makes one feel and vouch for her, even after all the terrible things she has done.
While these actresses were noteworthy, other actors and cast members seemed uncomfortable and uneasy in their roles.
The showrunners have done their best to make it easy for viewers to differentiate between the different timelines, with the changes in hair, make-up, clothes, and most importantly, the lighting.
Even when the story seems shallow, Heigl and Chalke manage to keep it afloat and their performances continually help revive interest in the series. The few laughs that the series manages to give every now and then also help.
The series is quite slow-moving, which makes the 10 fifty-minute episodes seem like a stretch. The story moves flatly and further dips sometimes. The last three episodes are as good as it gets.
The cross-cutting between different time periods is an interesting concept, but Firefly Lane overdoes it, not to mention how confusing it can get at times.
While the lead actresses give in their all to their performances, the same cannot be said for other actors, whose performances are either under or overdramatic and almost never spot-on.
Firefly Lane is not as high on emotions as it intends to be and is filled with superfluous drama.
Had the story been rounded up in a lesser number of episodes, it probably would have been far more interesting. But at its present length, the web series is borderline unbearable at times.
All in all, Firefly Lane does not do justice to its source material or to its lead actresses. Even though it fails to deliver, it might still become a hit given the anticipation surrounding it.
Firefly Lane is another forgettable addition to Netflix’s library of series. It is underwhelming and doesn’t have rich drama or the right amount of romance or even suspense to keep one hooked. But those looking for something extremely light and harmless to watch can give this one a try.