A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
"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).
Violence & Scariness
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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.
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Expect to hear various forms of "f--k" and "s--t," as well as "bitch" and "boner."
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Products & Purchases
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.
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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.
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.
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.