Firefly Lane

TV review by
Marina Gordon, Common Sense Media
Firefly Lane TV Poster Image
Soapy drama deals with rape, substance abuse, parenting.

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 16+
Based on 2 reviews

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

"Friends like family" relationships are rare and sometimes require a great deal of flexibility and forgiveness.

Positive Role Models

The ride-or-die friendship at the core of the show can be dysfunctional -- Tully in particular assumes that she can stay in Kate's good graces regardless of her transgressions (including signing for birth control pills for Kate's daughter without her knowledge).


Tully is raped by an older boy who brings her to a party. The traumatizing experience affects her relationships with men throughout her life. After the rape, she hits her mother's boyfriend in the face with a spatula when he gets too close to her.


14-year-old Tully is raped by a date; he holds her down and forces himself on her, saying, "Don't be a tease." She has many flashbacks to the feeling of being left in the woods after the rape. She's shown having sex with many different men in her adult life. Kate's brother is gay (and closeted); we see him kissing his boyfriend when they're teens. Kate's 14-year-old daughter claims that everyone her age is on birth control, in a bid for Tully to help her get the pill.


Expect to hear various forms of "f--k" and "s--t," as well as "bitch" and "boner."


Kate's lifestyle in particular is laughingly improbable. In the 2000s, she lives in an enormous lakefront home with a pool in Seattle on her husband's news producer salary. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Many characters smoke cigarettes, particularly in 1970s scenes. Tully's mother is perpetually high, and we see characters snorting cocaine in the 1980s. Teenagers drink in party scenes, and Tully is raped after her date encourages her to get drunk.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Firefly Lane focuses on a decades-long friendship that starts between two teen girls, Tully and Kate, who are seemingly opposites. There's a lot of mature content, including a disturbing but not graphic scene in which 14-year-old Tully is date-raped while drunk at an outdoor party, a trauma that affects the rest of Tully's life and strengthens the girls' bond. Many characters smoke cigarettes, Tully's mother is perpetually high, and we see characters snorting cocaine in the 1980s. Both adults and teenagers are shown drinking alcohol. Curses like "f--k," "s--t," and "bitch" are used liberally. Kate's brother is gay and closeted; we see him kissing his high school boyfriend, and he resists coming out to his sister while he's in the Navy.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byMJ123456 February 7, 2021

Sex and cursing

Like every other Netflix show, they take a good story and have to do graphic sex and the F word every other line. I just can’t understand why they couldn’t ma... Continue reading
Adult Written byK.Lo February 9, 2021

Amazing show

Such a great story about friendship and life! Some scenes that are hard, date rape, drugs, some passionate sex, but definitely real life.
Teen, 14 years old Written byDamonsalvatortvd February 15, 2021

Firefly lane for children

Like most other tv shows rated 18+ It depends how mature you are. Your child would have to understand sex, drugs, miscarriage, divorce and all of that. It is qu... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byLoranikas303 February 10, 2021

What's the story?

In the 1970s two 14-year-olds -- beautiful party girl Tully (Katherine Heigl) and bookish, shy Kate (Sarah Chalke) -- become neighbors and best friends. Over the decades the two are inseparable, as they go to college together, start journalism careers at the same small Seattle TV news station, and compete for the affections of their rakish boss, Johnny (Ben Lawson). The show ping-pongs primarily between their teen experiences and their careers and personal lives in the '80s and the 2000s, when Tully has become an Oprah-like sensation and Kate, now a mom to her own 14-year-old, is reentering the workforce after splitting from (spoiler!) Johnny.

Is it any good?

This Is Us has primed viewers for seeing characters in multiple timelines, but Katherine Heigl's simultaneously soapy and serious dive into two best friends' relationship is almost whiplash inducing. Firefly Lane jumps from decade to decade in a manner that's supposed to give us fresh insights into BFFs Tully Hart (Heigl) and Kate Mularkey (Sarah Chalke) mid-lives -- from the '60s when Heigl's character Tully is 8 and her mother yanks her from her grandmother's care, to the '70s when she's raped by a date at 14 and Tully and Kate become inseparable, to the '80s when she's an ambitious TV news personality and the two work together at a small Seattle TV station, to the 2000s, when she's an Oprah-like figure whose private life is ... messy.

The show is disappointing because the premise and the bones are good. Both the leads glide easily between the comic and the serious material; the actors who play Tully and Kate as teens (Ali Skovbye and Roan Curtis) are believable and heartbreaking as their younger selves. Frustratingly, there's too much here that strains credulity, from the friends going through every phase of their lives joined at the hip, to the ludicrously luxurious lakefront Seattle home Kate has as an adult (on a news producer's salary?), to Tully becoming an Oprah-level star, to multiple instances of ill-advised tabletop dancing, to the many, many times Kate has to forgive Tully being Tully. As Kate's surname signals, on a ride down Firefly Lane, beware of malarkey.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Firefly Lane compares to other shows about family relationships and human connection. Is it making an obvious attempt to be different, and does it work?

  • Families can discuss relationships that take place in the workplace, like those on Firefly Lane. Are these types of relationships a good idea? What are the negative consequences of getting romantically involved with someone you work closely with?

  • How do the characters in Firefly Lane demonstrate communication, courage, and gratitude? Why are these important character strengths?

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