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Firefly Lane is an enthusiastic love letter to the powerful bonds forged between women. As teens, Tully (Ali Skovbye) and Kate (Roan Curtis) form a friendship that anchors them for the next thirty years. But the roots of that relationship weren’t planted at a girly slumber party or some cutesy conversation. The two mismatched girls didn’t really become tight until Kate was there for Tully following a horrific sexual assault. At the tender age of 14, Kate knew enough to take Tully’s side, and Tully already grasped the horrific reality for young women before #MeToo.
Firefly Lane might serve up all the cozy, fuzzy feels about female friendship, but it never loses sight of why girls cling to each other so tightly. The world is a scary place in any era and it was doubly worse for young women coming of age in the 1970s. Firefly Lane fully captures the horror of being a girl before #MeToo and hammers home why sexual assault remains such a malice within our society.
Based on the novel by Kristin Hannah, Firefly Lane follows besties Tully and Kate from their teens and into their 20s and 40s (where they are played by Katherine Heigl and Sarah Chalke).
Because of this, Firefly Lane is full of both retro fun — like feathered hair and lo-fi tech — and somewhat antiquated attitudes. Tully literally thinks motherhood is better than having a triumphant career, Kate’s brother keeps his homosexuality so secret that he marries a woman to shield himself from the AIDS crisis, and sexual harassment is a legitimate bargaining tool for network TV execs. Photo: Netflix
But the most chilling moment in all of Firefly Lane is how the teen Tully reacts when Kate suggests they report her rape: she shoots the idea down point blank. Tully explains that even if the authorities believe her, they will still lay the blame on her fourteen-year-old shoulders. She agreed to go to a party, she wanted to kiss her assailant, she wore a short skirt… All that, and not the indisputable fact that she begged her rapist to stop, would exonerate the older senior high schooler in the underage girl’s rape.
While it’s still difficult for survivors to come forward, Tully’s blunt breakdown of how her plight would be received feels downright unbelievable.
Tully’s appraisal of her situation in 1974 smacks of disgusting truth. The miniskirt-clad daughter of a hippie would be written off as “asking for it.” Only Kate can see Tully’s side and only Kate can understand her trauma.
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Many of our best contemporary dramas — from Michaela Coel’s brilliant I May Destroy You to Netflix’s astounding Unbelievable — examine the trauma of rape and the additional ruination wrecked upon victims by cultural biases. We still have an uphill battle to fight in seeking justice for the victims of sexual assault, but it is a sin our culture is finally reckoning with. In young Tully’s time, that wasn’t even the case. There was no question that her assault would be swept under the rug. There wouldn’t even be an effort into procuring her justice. The system believed she “deserved” what happened to her and Tully had to grapple with that pain on top of everything else she was struggling with.It’s a listless pain still felt by too many to this day and it was even worse in a time that didn’t even pretend to care about the Tully Harts of the world. Tully’s trauma is compacted by a culture of shame and victim-blaming. Our society still has a lot left to do to address these sins, but we should never forget how much worse it once was. And we should continue to fight so women young and old never have to feel so helpless ever again.
Watch Firefly Lane on Netflix
Ali Skovbye Firefly Lane Netflix.