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How ‘Firefly Lane’ Season 2 Tests a ‘Profound’ Platonic Bond: ‘Can You Accommodate Change in the Person You Love?’

The creators and stars of the Netflix series weigh in on the close and complicated relationship at its center

When “Firefly Lane” co-executive producer and author of the novel Kristin Hannah met with the TV adaptation’s creator Maggie Friedman, she gave her two pointers on the core of the story, which chronicles the ever-evolving friendship between quirky, methodical Kate Mularkey (Sarah Chalke) and bold, ambitious Tallulah ‘Tully’ Hart.

“The single most important thing was that this was a story that highlighted almost a female soulmate, your very best friend who is your best friend from the time you’re 13, for all of your life,” the author said in a recent interview with TheWrap. “We don’t sort of see enough of that representation on TV. I do think that the series has done an amazing job of creating these two women who, as different as they are, you absolutely believe that they love each other, and when the chips are down, they’re going to be there for each other. That was the most important element that I wanted the series to contain.”

Tully moves in across the street from Kate in the 1970s, and Kate thinks Tully is the coolest girl ever, so she wouldn’t want anything to do with Kate. A few twists of fate and good timing shatter that notion, and the women form a seemingly everlasting bond that spans almost 40 years.

“It’s something that so many people dream of, to have a friend that has been your best friend since junior high or middle school or elementary school, and has seen you at all of the various stages in your life and has been there for you and helped you,” Hannah added. “We need our friends in high school desperately, in college, desperately, as young mothers as young working women. I loved this idea that I could show an entire era of women through the years.”

Hannah didn’t get too heavily involved other than providing her two cents. The flip side of the same coin she created in her 400+ page novel, published in 2008, involved Kate’s eventual marriage to Johnny Ryan (Ben Lawson), who both women meet in their first post-graduate jobs, which of course happen to be at the same TV broadcast news station.

“That was actually the other thing I said to Maggie when we spoke originally, that it was about the friendship, but it was also about this longterm marriage. Just like with Kate and Tully, it’s about two people who love each other and make a decision, and then the world hits them and parenthood and jobs and all of the things that can tear people apart,” Hannah said. “In the novel, it was all very much a love story. Ultimately, this was very much Kate and Johnny’s love story, as much as it was Kate and Tully’s story. It was really important to me that while Johnny sometimes kept Kate and Tully apart a little bit, anything that happened to them negatively was never about Johnny, because I really wanted to not fall into that — that trope that we see so often about best girlfriends broken up by a man.”

Friedman found a way to balance both loves and big relationships that were introduced back in Season 1 in 2021.

“The heart and the center of the show is really the relationship between these two women, but it was really important to me this season, because in Season 1, we see a lot of in terms of Kate and Johnny — they’re going through a divorce, and then we see her when she’s younger, really pining for him and he’s interested in Tully,” she said “This season, we’re really focusing on their love story — how did they fall in love before they ended up getting married and what was their road like? And I think it’s a really beautiful relationship. It’s also post-him being in Iraq and being injured, and when he left at the end of Season 1, they spent a night together and there was a ‘hey, who knows?’ and Kate’s hoping, because she still loves him. He’s the man that she has loved from the first moment she saw him. Exploring that relationship was just really important to us to tell the full story of Kate and Johnny this season. And hopefully  it’s a satisfying journey.

Teenage Tully (Ali Skovbye) and Kate (Roan Curtis) vow to never let a boy come between them in high school.

“These two meet at this really tender age and form this deeply profound bond, and I think that — there’s your partner in life if you get one where it’s your romantic partner in this life, but I always think that we get a couple, one, maybe two partners in this life that are platonic,” Curtis said. “They’re your person. And sometimes I think that those bonds are so much more. Like almost more profound than even romantic relationships, because, you know, how often is it that the person you end up with romantically [id] from the time that you’re, in this case, 14 years old?” 

Ali Skovbye and Roan Curtis as Tully Hart and Kate Mularkey in "Firefly Lane"
Netflix

Roan’s costar Ali Skovbye would use the word sisters if she couldn’t say soulmates.

“My favorite thing about having friendships from a long time — or you can develop friendships like that as well from a later age — I think it is something special when [it’s] someone from so young and they see you already in all of your truest forms, which is all you can ask for,” she told TheWrap.

According to Friedman, the bond forged between the “Firefly Lane” girls forever does not come without tension and built-up emotions that come out in explosive ways.

“They get each other, and as their shared experiences rack up, they are just more and more connected because they are each the witness to each other’s lives as they unfold,” she said. “But along the way, they have a lot of — there’s some conflict because they aren’t the same. They’re very different people and they want different things out of life.”

Friedman acknowledges the pros and cons of a friendship as tightknit as Tully and Kate’s, echoing Hannah’s sentiment that the two women share a bond that most people dream of.

“It’s the kind of friendship we all want in our lives — a person who is just there for us no matter what, but also, hopefully we show that there’s ways that maybe they’re not the most healthy,” Friedman said. “There’s a little bit of codependency happening, and they’re a little too enmeshed. But it’s watching them kind of work through that in this season that I think is really beautiful.”

Katherine Heigl, who portrays Tully in the later two timelines, strongly asserts that the two are codependent.

“I think that’s part of the problem. Right? I think that that’s why — what happens is very significant and would shake the strongest relationship — but I also think that there’s so much underlying, there are some things that have been unsaid for so many years,” she told TheWrap. “That choice Tully makes brings the lot of it out and kind of even heightens the intensity of how Kate’s feeling.”

A tear between the two women in their 40s (the 2000s) starts pulling at the many threads of the show in season 1, though the root of the rift doesn’t become clear until Season 2. 

“In the novel —I haven’t seen the end of the series, so I don’t know exactly what’s coming [in] the next part of Season 2 — but, in my novel, it was very much about along the way, there are small betrayals and difficulties and true fights about things that really matter,” Hannah said. “Whether it’s a best friendship, or a marriage, or any kind of long term relationship, people change and grow. And the big question is, Can you accommodate change and growth in the person that you love?” 

Sarah Chalke explained the tested partnership between the pair — choosing her words carefully as her character Kate would do.

“It’s funny I would have always used the word unbreakable,” she said. “That’s how I would have described their friendship, and obviously that turns out to not be the case. Their friendship and their bond is so rare, but it turns out maybe it is breakable.”

What becomes an old wound suddenly seems just as fresh with the cliffhanger that ends Season 2 Part 1, because Kate and Tully are not in constant contact anymore, and let’s just say there’s some devastating news delivered to one of them. 

“There’s that understanding of so much history, and that gives context to all your behavior going forward and a deep sense of knowing,” Curtis said. “I think that that’s why on the show, the rift between these two characters, in all timelines — any kind of rift between them is so devastating and almost more devastating than Kate’s divorce with Johnny in the first season, because they’re more than soulmates. They’re partners in this life who’ve like relied on each other forever.”

“Firefly Lane” Season 2 Part 1 is now streaming on Netflix.