‘Firefly Lane’ struggles as a new Netflix adaptation

Written By Rachel Ross, Co-Features/A&E Editor

I wasn’t completely sure how I felt about “Firefly Lane” upon finishing the first season; I had enjoyed some aspects but found others to be cheesy or corny. However, when the first part of the second season was released, I was interested in checking it out, largely in part due to the cliffhanger that the first season finished on. While overall, I did enjoy this go around more than the first, certain aspects again dragged it down, some returning from the first season, and some being entirely new.

“Firefly Lane” is a Netflix series adapted from a book of the same name, written by Kristin Hannah. It follows the decades-long friendship of two women, Tully Hart (Kathrine Heigl) and Kate Mularkey (Sarah Chalke). From a childhood in the ’70s living on the street that gives the show its name, to young adulthood in the ’80s working together on a television station, to adulthood in the ’90s and early 2000s pursuing different paths, Tully and Kate maintain their friendship through the ebbs and flows of life. Each episode cuts between these three periods of time, making it so that the audience is stitching the overall story together as they watch. While at some points, this can create effective comparisons or illustrations of an episode’s theme, at others, it can create a frustrating watching experience.

For me, the flow of this season felt more natural than the first. Throughout the first season, there was a lot of groundwork they were trying to lay, with the structure of the show being what it is. For each decade, there were certain key elements that they needed to establish, in order to create somewhat of an overall story. Looking back, it kind of felt like last season was mostly all construction, and now this season was actually working with and exploring the building. There was definitely a lot more with character development in this season, such as Tully’s relationship with male figures throughout her life, or Kate’s insecurity with herself. They also went further into the bread and butter of each decade, beyond just those surface-level key experiences that were necessary for context.

While the show is edited in a way that is mostly easy to follow, there were a few times here or there when I was confused about when we were supposed to be. Most times, it is easy enough to tell just based on the costuming, or in the case of the 70’s segments, the different actresses, but in this season, the early 2000s were split into two sections as well, being before and after Tully and Kate had a falling out. Sometimes it was difficult to tell where they stood in a given segment.

The 80s and 90s makeup remained as poor in this season as it was in the last. They do a really bad job trying to make the actors look younger. It very often takes me out of the show and breaks the immersion. There’s very little difference between how the majority of them look in the 80’s segments compared to the 2000s segments. I suppose I appreciate that they tried to do it practically, and without any creepy Robert De Niro VFX de-aging, but it still doesn’t work.

In terms of performances, Kathrine Heigl was definitely my favorite, this season and last season. She has a great confidence about her that is fun and engaging to watch and maintains that engagement in the more somber or emotional moments as well. Sarah Chalke holds her own, but I can’t say I’m as interested in her segments as I am in Heigl’s. It might have more to do with the fact that I like Tully as a character more than Kate, who can sometimes come off as overly self-righteous or oblivious.

But my ultimate issue with this season was the drawing out of Kate and Tully’s falling out. They teased at the end of the first season that the pair stopped talking, but didn’t reveal until nearly the end of this second season why. They kept throwing small clips in at the ends of episodes referencing it, but they often just showed the same thing over and over again. In the first episode, we see…a bit of a car. And in the next, we see…a bit more of a car. And in the next, we see…even more of a car. After a while, it just felt insulting. This is an example of how the structure the show has established can ultimately work against itself. If they weren’t ready to get to this falling out, maybe don’t tease it so early on. They really just put all their cards on the table; they made it even more glaringly obvious than the usual TV show that they were baiting the audience to come back for the second season. Without divulging any spoilers, I didn’t even really think the event that caused the falling out was as big of a thing as they were making it out to be. It felt a little forced considering the layered factors of the situation, is all I’ll say.

Overall, I did enjoy this first part of the second season of Firefly Lane and look forward to seeing the finale when it comes out. I wouldn’t say it’s one of the best things I’ve ever watched, but it is a cute, wholesome show to relax with for an hour. I like the story a lot, and some of the performances are pretty good, but the execution could stand to be improved.