A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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?
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