Firefly Lane, Netflix’s newest family drama/emotional cryfest, is based on Kristin Hannah’s novel of the same name. Released in 2008, the Firefly Lane book became a massive bestseller, spawning a sequel (Fly Away). But though the TV series included the same characters (Kate Mularkey and Tully Hart) and somewhat follows the novel’s overall trajectory, there are significant differences on-screen. The biggest change is that the series never actually reaches the Firefly Lane book ending. Instead, Season 1 ends barely halfway through the story.
Warning: Spoilers for both Firefly Lane Season 1 and Firefly Lane the novel follow.
The first thing fans of the TV series will discover is the book is told linearly. Both series and book begin with Tully’s arrival on Firefly Lane with her mom, Cloud. But the series intersperses it with Tully in 2003, frustrated by her job as a TV host, while Kate, a mother on the verge of divorce, worries about rejoining the workforce. Not so much on the page. Instead, the first section of the 500-page tome focuses exclusively on the period of 1974, as Kate and Tully go from virtual strangers to "TullyandKate."
Moreover, though the book then tracks through the 1980s and Tully and Kate’s time at KCPO-TV with Johnny Ryan, the TV series has significant changes.
For example, the "love triangle" between Tully, Kate, and Johnny is downplayed on the show. Johnny and Kate will obviously get together, while Tully is distracted by other relationships. The same holds for 2003. In the book, Tully’s relationship with Max doesn’t exist, nor the marriage and miscarriage. Johnny and Kate don’t get divorced, and he doesn’t leave for Iraq. Instead, the three are stuck in the same unhealthy dynamic from the KCPO-TV days, with Kate convinced Johnny is secretly in love with Tully, despite being married for a decade.
But the most significant change is that this is where the TV series ends.
On the page, that’s barely the halfway point of the story. The novel’s central moment has yet to occur on screen: Tully and Kate’s massive falling out. In the book, it happens when Kate comes to the set. In the series, this is Tully’s triumphant moment in turning around the narrative about her by talking about her miscarriage. In the novel, Johnny’s idea is to put Kate on as the guest. But their conversation turns ugly, with both saying things (live! on air!) that are unforgivable. Johnny, in turn, quits the show. And the show doesn’t even begin to address how the two finally reconcile when Kate discovers she has inoperable cancer, and finds herself dying alone.
The show still has quite a bit of story to tell. Fans will have to wait for Netflix to greenlight Firefly Lane Season 2 to get answers. Until then, all 10 episodes of Season 1 are now streaming.
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