Ever start watching a show and immediately know it's bad? But then all of a sudden you're five episodes deep, squeezing a body pillow tightly while sitting next to a scented candle that smells like three different types of pies while tears cascade down your cheek, staining your terry cloth robe?
This image is vivid because this was literally me last night as I watched episode five of "Firefly Lane."
The popular Netflix show is so popular, it has been No. 1 in the United States for the streaming giant, beating out the anticipated new film "Malcolm & Marie."
But back to "Firefly Lane": Here's everything you need to know about the new series that is as cheesy as it sounds ,but may be exactly what you need during these winter, pandemic months.
What is Firefly Lane?
Telling the decadeslong story of two best friends played by Katherine Heigl ("27 Dresses," "Grey's Anatomy") and Sarah Chalke ("Scrubs," "Roseanne"), the drama dips and dives into different eras of their messy relationship, from their teenage years in the '70s, their college days in the '80s and then each of their mid-life crises in the mid-2000s. Nostalgia is alive and well here. Named after the street they lived on as teens and where they met, the plot focuses on the enduring friendship of the two female protagonists.
Heigl's character, Tully Hart, is bold and brazen, basking in the spotlight so much so she ends up becoming a daytime talk show host. Chalke's character, Kate Mularkey, is much more soft-spoken, living up to the irony of her last name that could be perceived as meaningless talk or nonsense.
Over the years, the pair of women endure every challenge in life, including divorce, secret gay love, drug addiction, alcoholism, sexual assault, ageism in the workplace and more. (One episode poignantly dives into the heartbreaking experience of miscarriage, doing so with an approach that is so honest and raw, it takes viewers by surprise.)
“Any relationship that has stood the test of that kind of time is going to have moments of fallout, and if it doesn't, that means somebody is not being honest,” Heigl, who is also an executive producer of the project, said to The Washington Post during a candid interview. “Somebody is not being allowed to grow, and somebody is not creating boundaries.”
Is Firefly Lane based on something?
Yes! It 's based on a book of the same name, written by Kristin Hannah. The New York Times bestselling author referred to "Firefly Lane" as her "UW book," citing her time time spent at University of Washington where she went to school.
“I read the book and I was like, ‘Oh my God, I love it so much. I want to do it, but what if I can’t do it?’ It’s rare to find a project that you really connect with, and I just knew I was going to be devastated (if I couldn’t do it),” Maggie Friedman, creator and show runner of "Firefly Lane," told the Observer. “I think (Tully and Kate have) a relationship that a lot of people can identify with, (one) that they either have in their lives or wish they had in their lives. It felt very aspirational and yet very real.”
Heigl opened up on TODAY with Hoda and Jenna about her experience with the book, and how she had already read it when she got the script.
"This script came to me at this point of my life, when I was looking for a story like this to tell, be a part of," Heigl said. "I knew it was familiar and then I went out and got the book and I realized I had read the book as I reread it. It was just the most beautiful story of friendship. It felt really poignant and relatable and honest and fun ... all those decades. It's really fun."
What do critics think of Firefly Lane?
Critics seem to be torn on the new drama, some panning it while others admitting that, while not Pulitzer Prize-winning stuff here, the sentimental-ness is not to be lost.
"Despite its many limitations, there’s something lovable about it," wrote Judy Bierman of Time magazine. "While the plot can be hysterical and the styling is off the wall, the central friendship is not just believable, but also endearing."
"My viewing notes became increasingly riddled with 'LOLs' as the 10-part debut season divulged more of its secrets and emotional beats," wrote Inkoo King of The Hollywood Reporter. "But there’s also a tonal consistency, solid episodic structure and a pleasing sway between teases and reveals that makes the series thoroughly binge-able, not unlike when you look up and discover that you’ve eaten an entire bag of fries without realizing it."
Vanity Fair television critic Richard Lawson also acknowledged the show's ability to make you get lost.
"The series is as engaging as a juicy book read curled up on some shabby couch in a rented cabin, a random object found on the shelf and opened merely to pass the time until it becomes something more: a genuine, if mild, passion," he said. "This is sometimes the best way to slip into a book or a TV series, without expectation but a growing willingness to get lost in its sweep."
Will there be a second season?
As of right now, there is no second season commissioned yet, but since the first season ended with multiple cliffhangers, we have a feeling there will be more episodes. (Also, in terms of what happens in the book, there's a lot of drama that still needs to be covered.)
"I don’t think we have enough stories about women (that are) told from a woman’s point of view," Friedman also said to the Observer. "I think the more that we have out there, the more it won’t feel like a niche thing. It’s just a human story like any other, but I do feel it matters to see our stories up on screen."
"Also, I think it’s really interesting to watch the history. In the ’70s, when (Tully and Kate) first meet and are teenagers, you see Kate’s mother and she has this idea of 'your generation is going to be able to do anything they want.' But we see the ways that that’s still not true for women. We see the way that so much has changed, but we still have so far to go."