Hello Yellow Brick Road
Episode 1 of Firefly Lane Season 1 begins with a pretty slick montage of flashes through time as Tully Hart steps out as the host for The Girlfriend Hour. Reveling in the cheers, we then begin our sliced up timeline, jumping between three important periods of history for these two girls.
In June 20th 1970 we’re introduced to young Tully. Her estranged mother Dorothy is back, now going by the name of Cloud. It’s been four years since she’s seen her daughter and apparently she’s clean from drugs now. She snatches up her kid and takes off.
Unfortunately this brings Tully to a peace march where Cloud loses sight of her daughter and leaves the girl alone and afraid. She’s stranded in the midst of this bustling, cacophonous noise of other protestors and curls up on a bench. Eventually, she heads back to stay with her Grandmother.
At the sound of a door slamming, Cloud returns again as a teenage Tully is taken to Firefly Lane. There, she’s watched out the window by a young Kate who comments to her family that they now have new neighbours.
As we soon find out, Kate is a bit of a loner, and allegedly her friends all dropped her when they became popular. Kate is bullied by the other students while Tully finds herself invited into the group with open arms.
That evening, Kate heads over to meet the neighbours, or specifically Tully. Cloud is predictably high and calls Kate an encyclopedia, as Tully invites her in. The place is a mess, full of packets strewn across the counters as Kate eventually says her goodbyes and leaves.
After covering for her at the convenience store, Tully blows off Kate for the evening as she’s invited out to a party. As Tully leaves, she runs into Robbie and Sean kissing in private. She agrees to keep it a secret though just before being picked up to leave.
Back in the present, Tully phones Kate during her “special hour”, which is basically when she’s folding clothes. Tully hopes the ratings for her show will improve, especially given she has an exclusive with a woman who fed her murdered husband to their cat. Carole Baskin, is that you? Anyway, Kate admits she has an interview for a local newspaper, but that’s the least of her problems.
Her 14 year old daughter Marah has got into trouble at school again, bunking classes while grappling with Kate’s divorce which is clearly weighing heavily over the family. Unfortunately, this incident results in Kate missing her interview for Seattle Digest and showing up half hour late.
After every other candidate is interviewed, Kate enters the room where airhead Kimber Watts happens to be the editor. She reminds Kate that this position is for an assistant to her role. With things looking bleak, Kate uses her best friend card and claims she can get an interview with Tully.
Meanwhile, Tully keeps secrets with Marah, who’s currently thinking about going on the pill and needs an adult’s consent. Tully however, refuses to sign. Instead, Tully heads out and sleeps with random men, including a much younger man called Max. As he asks whether a second date is on the cards, she throws him out.
Kate meets her old friend Travis again. He admits she looks good but given she’s currently shopping for underwear, things are predictably awkward as this sitcom-esque humour begins to bleed through.
Meanwhile, Tully heads out and winds up sleeping with a random guys, who admits he got divorced a year before. After they have sex, Max asks whether there’s a second date on the cards. Instead, she throws him out.
In the 80’s, Kate arrives at Tully’s work as her best friend shows her around. After meeting boss Johnny, his initial hostility wavers and he agrees to keep Kate on as an employee.
After bagging a position at Tully’s work, Kate does her best to settle in as Johnny immediately warms to her and comments how Kate’s perfect for their workplace. It turns out Johnny used to be a war journalist but “sometimes life kicks the shit out of you.”
As we cut back and forth between the modern timeline and the 80’s, we see Tully dancing with her love interests in both time periods. As the episode closes out, Johnny arrives at Tully’s apartment as it’s revealed that he’s Kate’s husband and wants to stay with Tully for the night.
The Episode Review
Firefly Lane gets off to a rather messy start, jumping between different tonal states and with three timelines that really don’t work in this order. Instead of following the book in a linear fashion from the 70’s to modern day, experiencing the highs and lows of this friendship naturally, everything here has been chopped up and thrown in a random order to try and make things stylish.
Sometimes it works quite well – like the dancing at the end of the episode – but mostly it just confuses things and offsets the pacing. This also diminishes any drama or tension that fighting in these timelines could have had – after all, we know these ladies patch up their differences and become besties again so why get emotionally engaged?
Of course, there’s some pretty traumatic events coming up in the book so I’d imagine we’ll be seeing those in the upcoming episodes. Unfortunately this idea of chopping up a story and throwing things in a different order has become a bit of a trend as of late, with The Stand following suit and delivering a disappointing miniseries.
Given the story here is engaging and full of dramatic peaks and emotional lows, there’s enough to stick with this soapy melodrama for the time being. Hopefully the narrative can settle down and deliver on its premise.