Ah, Firefly Lane, I can’t. Or can I?
No, I…. caaaaaaan’t. The review below is ALL SPOILER and written for those of you who feel the same as I do and feel the need to rant. Before I get into details, I’ll give my overall view. The fact is, the caaaaaan’t bit was in my mind for most of the show, but dammit all to hell, the show grew on me. It shouldn’t have, but it did. The ending kind of pissed me off too.
That said, do I recommend watching it? Yes. But you’ve been warned.
How many clichés and tropes can you jam into one show? A bucketful. Watch Firefly Lane and count them. It should be a drinking game.
Details on why my attitude toward this beast are what they are and in no particular order are listed below.
The show is a story about two best friends. Their lives and relationship are told in flashbacks, flashforwards, and during current events. Maybe I’m too dark for this show, but I started throwing popcorn at the screen, rolling my eyes, and pounding the pillows next to me as the heartstrings were being yanked. Over and over, I felt like the show was all about those, sigh, sob, whimper moments. Through the character’s troubles, we cover their topics of divorce—(although divorcing for no real reason I can fathom), a teenaged girl who can’t stand her mom (for no logical reason, but we’re supposed to be on board for this cliché. Just go with it, viewer!)
I didn’t know this show was based on a Kristin Hannah book until I saw her name in the credits, and then, it all began to make sense. Look, I’ve read a couple of Kristin’s books, and depending on my mood and the particular book, I’ve been moved and reasonably liked them. But the books always felt more like Lifetime stories. And the thing is, I LOVE a good Lifetime story, but. . . sometimes, I just don’t. And sometimes I’m embarrassed by the tripe, and sometimes I’m embarrassed for all of us. And I write books with romantic elements too! Lifetime tearjerkers often succeed in making me weepy with their tragedy and love and sorrow. So how can I justify my complaints?
Stop interrupting my rant. I can only tell you how I felt watching the show in question.
Let’s move on to the young character getting her first period in the new white jeans while at school. This should have struck more of a chord for me since almost the same exact thing happened to me, but it was sandwiched between the scene with the dying dog and putting the dog down, and the family being (temporarily) together for the tearful moment, and the in-the-closet gay brother who tragically and unhappily marries. You got the older generation mom whose life was limited and never fulfilled but married to a great guy/father. Together, they live an okay-ish life.
One of the two main characters is Tully, the tough as nails best friend, who throughout, deals with her abandonment issues from her mother and father. Tully becomes a raging success with a demanding Oprah-like career but has all the free time in the world to hang with, hyper-analyze, and co-opt her best friend—Kate’s life. The Tully character worked for me as it felt the most complex, interesting, and dark. But then at some point, we get a flash-forward to a Beaches-like moment when maybe, gulp, Tully dies? (She was sweating a lot and did pass out face-first while drinking.) Wait. . . What? Nope! It was a teaser. It wasn’t her. In the next flash forward to the funeral, Tully is there which leaves the viewer wondering just who the hell in the cast did die?
“You’re toying with me!” I screamed at the TV as I got comfortable for the next episode. Was this how the book was written? Flashback, current events, flash forward. . . rinse and repeat? I could read the novel to find out, but I’m not going to do that. If I had experienced the read and gotten to a part where character Kate Mularkey (greatest name ever) lamented at the church (while wearing black and about to enter for a funeral) that her friend Tully would have known what to do, and then the chapter ended to another flashback, I would have been furious during the reading too. Kind of. It also would have made me read on. Which I supposed is the entire point of a bestselling page-turner. But still, I would have felt used. Instead, I felt used watching it unfold on TV. I continued watching so I could get the answer to the question. But I felt played I tell you! Later, when Johnny gets blown up in Iraq, I guess we were supposed to believe it was him that was killed. But I wasn’t going to fall for that move a second time. Cliffhanger my ass.
More questions. What about the opulent homes which are situated in paradise with no explanation on how they made their money? While watching, I kept counseling myself to be patient. I knew why Tully had the sleek penthouse which she mostly swayed through drunk, but I didn’t understand how the stay-at-home mom (was she?) and the journalist/Johnny had a place in Seattle worth millions. But hey, at least they were miserable. Although again, why? Because he needed to exert his creative side and go to Iraq as a journalist – (I guess the timeline for this was during the Iraq war). I get why it would be difficult for your husband to leave, (not forever mind you) but I felt like Kate wasn’t being strong. She was strong enough to make out with a guy and get a hickey but she teared up at her daughter’s piano recital, then LEFT in the middle of the piece to go wander the extensive grounds by the pool near the ocean so she could gather her poor miserable self-indulgent thoughts together. Maybe her daughter did have a reason to hate her.
Why did Tully have an ultrasound at home? Why didn’t she go to the doctor’s office like a normal person? Who does that? Why after she lost the baby on her honeymoon (who didn’t see that coming?) was she in a three-day amnesiac state, but then bounded out of bed, ready for work and pancakes. What happened? Why is my mom here? Why was her mom there?! They hate each other. I don’t give a shit that she was calling for her during her freaky fugue state.
Then you got the slutty lingerie cliches, the ‘oh-I’m-so-naughty’ giggles, the constant wine-drinking, (cause remember, they’re all miserable deep down, trying to find themselves), the I’m-so-crazy hormones of pregnancy, the water breaking in a bar, the frantic gurney ride in labor with the smart-mouth friend co-opting the scene while the one giving birth has to take control. It all felt like it had been done before. And done better. Even the great music felt plunked in—like Carly Simon’s terrific song Coming Around Again which was written for the Merle Streep/Jack Nicolson movie Heartburn. That wonderful movie—based on the book by the incredible Nora Ephron—was great. It too had a lot of the same tropes, but they worked for me in Heartburn. But Firefly Lane is a mini-series, and Heartburn was a movie—so different formats and less time for extra cliched moments. I guess. Whatever.
What worked for me.
The overall concept of best friends forever. Girlfriends. It’s a beautiful thing.
Also the acting. It was cast well and everyone did a terrific job. The actresses who played the two best friends when they were young were wonderful and those scenes felt more fully drawn and real. Except, sigh, the hippie/druggie mother named Cloud who was way over the top. I can’t, Cloud.
Maybe this all worked better in print. Apparently, it was a series of three books. Did the first book—Firefly Lane—just screech to a halt like the mini-series leaving the best friends broken up? What did Tully do to poor little Kate that was so unforgivable? Is Johnny dead?
Wait for Season 2 to find out! Will I tune in? It will depend on my mood. Covid quarantine has had its effects on our viewing habits. Trapped in my home and restless, I’ve made a lot of choices I wouldn’t have made if life were different. So we’ll just have to see.