Firefly Lane is the latest Netflix drama for fans who want something new after binging their way through shows like Virgin River and Sweet Magnolias. Like those two shows, Firefly Lane is also based on a book focused on two childhood best friends as they navigate 30 years of life changes.
The show also gets its name from that book. Firefly Lane was published in 2008 by American author Kristin Hannah, and tells the story of the ambitious Tully Hart (played in the Netflix show by Grey’s Anatomy star Katherine Heigl) and her more homespun best friend Kate (Scrubs’ Sarah Chalke) as their friendship moves from the 1980s until the mid-2000s.
Per an interview with the college magazine of Hannah’s alma mater the University of Washington (UW), Hannah has called Firefly Lane, “my UW book”—that is, her most autobiographical novel. Both friends attend the college, with one of them majoring in communications, the same major as Hannah. In the same interview, the author also says that one character’s (spoiler alert) battle with breast cancer is based on her mother’s own experience with the disease.
Speaking with Seattle Pi, meanwhile, the author said that her book revealed what she saw as a fundamental truth about women to her: “I learned with Firefly Lane that women’s experience is more universal than we think. We’re all living some version of the same life…I’m able to explore that universal experience.”
The official book synopsis for Firefly Lane gives viewers a guide of what to expect from the Netflix show.
It reads: “in the turbulent summer of 1974, Kate Mularkey has accepted her place at the bottom of the eighth-grade social food chain. Then, to her amazement, the ‘coolest girl in the world’ moves in across the street and wants to be her friend. Tully Hart seems to have it all—beauty, brains, ambition.
“On the surface, they are as opposite as two people can be: Kate, doomed to be forever uncool, with a loving family who mortifies her at every turn. Tully, steeped in glamour and mystery, but with a secret that is destroying her. They make a pact to be best friends forever; by summer’s end they’ve become TullyandKate. Inseparable.
“Spanning more than three decades and playing out across the ever-changing face of the Pacific Northwest, Firefly Lane is the poignant, powerful story of two women and the friendship that becomes the bulkhead of their lives.
“For thirty years, Tully and Kate buoy each other through life, weathering the storms of friendship—jealousy, anger, hurt, resentment. They think they’ve survived it all until a single act of betrayal tears them apart… and puts their courage and friendship to the ultimate test.”
The Netflix series, however, makes a few changes to the story of the book. The biggest change is in the structure of the story.
While the book mostly tells the story in chronological order, with part one of the book covering the 1980s, part two the 1990s, and vice versa, the Netflix show hops from time to time, with different actors playing the characters as kids and teens and (a digitally de-aged and be-wigged) Chalke and Heigl taking over once the story reaches the 1980s and the pair’s college years.
Firefly Lane is released on Wednesday, February 3 on Netflix.