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For those who’re looking for a good watch about women’s friendships, I recommend Netflix series Firefly Lane, based on Kristin Hannah’s book of the same name.
I have often felt that there is not enough number of movies/series based on women’s friendships. This could be attributed to the fact that at their core, people do not believe in its existence at all.
Society at large is responsible for propagating the idea that a woman can never be another woman’s true friend without feeling at least a tiny twinge of jealousy or animosity towards each other. Producers, directors, screenwriters have been feeding on this idea since time immemorial and creating content to reinforce the problematic belief that two women can never be best friends. Content depicting women pitted against each other, going for each other’s throats, slandering each other or fighting over boys exists for voyeuristic pleasure of men.
Furthermore, such content is much easier to create for it is accepted readily by the audience. Why, you ask? Because it is comfortable territory, familiar. It does not challenge existing, age-old, traditional beliefs.
As a woman who has nurtured lasting friendships with several other women for the last 24 years of my life, I find this whole idea ridiculous.
My best friends have been my biggest support systems, helping me navigate through major setbacks and emotional upheavals in life with their warmth and love. Naturally, I have always been indignant when people mock women’s friendships. Often, this has been the reason behind casual discussions morphing into heated arguments. Needless to say, I wholeheartedly believe that women can be women’s best friends, their biggest cheerleaders, and their strongest allies.
To my sheer delight, Netflix series Firefly Lane, an adaptation of Kristin Hannah’s novel by the same name, follows my line of thought.
It is a beautiful story about two wildly different women, who forge a rare bond, a timeless friendship, which survives chaos, fights, and emotional rollercoasters across decades; almost as though rebelling against the impermanence of time.
The plot alternates between three timelines, giving the viewer glimpses into Kate Mularkey (Sarah Chalke) and Tully Hart’s (Katherine Heigl) lives as they journey through monumental life experiences together and apart, whilst being each other’s rock solid support systems. But, theirs is not a perfect friendship.
Like every real relationship, theirs too go through turbulent times. In fact, throughout the series, we see Tully and Kate getting mad and hurling hurtful accusations at each other, but we also see them fighting the world for each other. Every real relationship requires a lot of forgiveness and the ability to overlook seemingly annoying traits of the other person, which Kate and Tully do over and over again.
Kate and Tully first meet as fourteen year olds who live across the street from each other at Firefly Lane. A popular kid, Tully is always at the receiving end of a lot of attention, especially from men. But, behind her disarming personality and unreadable smile, Tully hides a sea of emotions, not the least of which is an intense longing. She craves for a normal home, and maternal affection from an emotionally unavailable mother who happens to be a drug addict. Had it not been for Kate, Tully wouldn’t have had any childhood whatsoever.
Kate, on the other hand, is a polar opposite of Tully. She is born into a loving family, where love flows in abundance. But, like every 14 year old, Kate’s life too is far from perfect. She wishes to be a popular teenager who is showered with attention like Tully.
Tully’s rebellious streak is offset by Kate’s soft demeanour. If Tully is a tornado, Kate is the calm after a storm. Two imperfect women, caught in their own colossal storms, find unparalleled comfort in each other; their mammoth love taking precedence over any inconsequential fights.
From awkward teenagers, we see them transition into 22 year olds ready to take on the world of journalism. While Tully aspires to be the next best thing in the reporting world, Kate realizes that she has a flair for writing. This new phase brings forth new sets of challenges, often testing their friendship. But, each time they emerge stronger from all the curve-balls that life throws their way.
Their friendship feels real and raw, flawed too just like them. Tully’s vivacity, her magnetic aura naturally draws people towards her, most of all men, even the ones Kate is attracted to, birthing a deep-rooted resentment in Kate’s heart towards Tully. In fact, Kate also resents Tully as she feels her own family is neglectful towards her in their bid to embrace Tully as a part of them.
This is evidenced in several scenes. For instance, in one particular scene we see Kate hurling a barrage of accusations at Tully on one of their visits to Kate’s family from college. She alleges that Tully invariably draws everyone into her orbit including Kate’s family. Similarly, Tully is often seen getting all too friendly with guys Kate crushes on, showing complete disregard for Kate’s feelings. Although, Tully does not do it deliberately, Kate ends up getting hurt nonetheless.
But, what is beautiful is how their love for each other always overpowers every fight, every misunderstanding they seem to have. Certain scenes portray brilliantly how deep this love runs. For example, the scene in which Tully’s mum is arrested by the police, resulting in Tully and Kate separation is so hauntingly heartbreaking that as a viewer I was moved to tears. Letting go of the trivialities seems easier for them because the alternative i.e being without each other in their lives seems like a scary prospect.
This is a recurring theme and they continue to persevere through all the odds, exhibiting unadulterated affection for each other well into their 40s. During this phase, Tully is at the pinnacle of success while Kate having suffered a divorce is trying to regain her footing at work.
The narrative flows effortlessly, never feeling forced or unnatural. Sarah Chalke as Kate Mularkey and Katherine Heigl as Tully Hart deliver earnest performances. But, despite a wonderful attempt to illustrate a friendship that women draw emotional strength from, the show ends with a maddening cliffhanger, leaving us perplexed as viewers.
What exactly happens that inspite of such unshakable loyalty and unflinching devotion towards each other, Kate and Tully are at loggerheads with each other towards the end of the show? I guess, we’ll have to wait for the next season of Netflix series Firefly Lane to find out.
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HR by profession, but a writer by choice, I find creative respite through writing.
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