Firefly Lane creator talks that cliffhanger ending and what to expect from a potential season 2
WARNING: This post contains major Firefly Lane spoilers.
What did Tully do?!
We know, we know. We can't stop thinking about it either. Season one of Netflix's best friend drama Firefly Lane ended on a huge cliffhanger with the central besties, Tully and Kate, having fallen out, after Tully did something unforgivable to Kate. What's also unforgivable is ending a season like that. We're just supposed to endlessly wait, not knowing what went down and if they'll ever find their way back to one another? Not cool, Netflix.
Starring Katherine Heigl (Grey's Anatomy) as Tully and Sarah Chalke (Scrubs) as Kate, the series — adapted from the novel of the same name by Kristin Hannah — explores the decade-spanning friendship of two BFFs from its inception when they were just lost and lonely teens, through careers, motherhood, and all the '80s fashion disasters and epic romances along the way. But by season's end, we see Kate tell Tully, "I don't ever want to see you again." Ouch.
In desperate need of answers, we turned to series creator Maggie Friedman (Witches of East End), to see if she could help — and also to find out what post-production witchcraft they performed on Heigil and Chalke to give them that just-turned-20 glow.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Before we get into the finale and that huge cliffhanger, let's talk about one of the big changes from the book to the show: Tully's relationship with Max (Jon-Michael Ecker) and her subsequent miscarriage. Why was that something you chose to include?
MAGGIE FRIEDMAN: There are a number of things that are not in the book. I just took my inspiration from reading the book and then thinking about, how do I capture the spirit of the story and then make it my own and take these characters to some new places for a new medium? I thought to myself, Tully has got so many walls up. She's so damaged. She's so traumatized. What would it be like if she found someone who she could fall in love with who could help her bring some of those walls down? And how would that challenge this character who is so guarded? So that's where Max came in. I thought if she usually has one night stands because she doesn't want to get too close to anyone and then somebody starts to break through that barrier, what would that look like? And it felt like it would be a really interesting story to tell. With the miscarriage, the idea of this person who had such a difficult childhood with a mom that didn't really know how to be a mom, what happens when she might be faced with being a mom? And how does she grapple with her own childhood and her own relationship with her mother? It felt really rich to me. Also, the idea of a miscarriage, this is something that so many women go through and that isn't talked about enough. The taboo is starting to be lifted now and more and more people are talking about it, but I thought what a great opportunity she would have as a public figure who goes through this thing to bring it out into the light.
You had a largely female creative team, a lot of the episode directors were women too, which makes a lot of sense when you're telling a story about two women. What impact did that have on the making of the show?
I thought the female directors really brought so much of their own life experience — to be able to talk to the actors and just the way they shot the scenes from, sort of, a female game. We mostly had female writers and it felt really great to sit in the writer's room and for all of us to talk about our collective experiences and be able to talk about what are the touchstones, what are the milestones in a woman's life? The women in the room were all of different ages and backgrounds, but we had a commonality as well, which was great. Even though it's a show that's a lot by women, hopefully, it appeals to everybody, as a human story.
And for a show with a lot of sex scenes, it's good to know women were directing many of them.
Yes and it's really cool and interesting to see how a female director stages those.
When it came to casting, how quickly did you realize you'd struck gold with Katherine and Sarah?
Coincidentally, they happened to meet each other right before the show started and became friends. So they already knew each other a little bit and they had a rapport, but they just hit it off like gangbusters from the start and you could feel it. They laugh together. They go on hikes together and you can feel that bond and they just have a great energy with each other. We got very lucky.
How hard was it to find Ali Skovbye and Roan Curtis who play teenage Tully and Kate, respectively?
We had some sessions up in Vancouver and I was really nervous because it's such a specific thing; finding people who look like them, who are great actors who get along with each other and have chemistry and can play all that. That's a tall order. Somehow we found these two that feel like exactly the right match for each other and for their older counters.
One other change from the book to screen is that on the show Johnny (Ben Lawson) is Australian. Were you going to keep him American until you met Ben?
Ben was cool with doing either an American or his Australian accent. I sort of felt like man, that Australian accent just gives him another layer of mystery and coolness that I felt just really fit with the character. I love the accent.
Okay, have to ask, how did you make Katherine and Sarah look 20 years old in those college scenes? Was that some post-production magic?
We did a little bit, very subtly in post. We did a little bit of Benjamin Button-ing. I didn't want it to look like we put Vaseline on the lens. I wanted to still feel them. So we did a little tweaking just to be able to tell the delineation. But they both look so fabulous. The key is you can't do too much because you don't want the audience to notice it. You don't want them to be like, "Oh, look, they've been de-aged." You want it to just be like, "Oh, the character is that age."
Let's get into the finale and the multiple cliffhangers. In the writing stages, did you always plan to end the season there? With Tully and Kate not speaking but the audience not knowing why and Johnny's life hanging in the balance?
The Johnny moment, I knew for sure was going to come. In the writer's room we had all these big whiteboards and that particular moment —we called it Johnny Goes Boom— we knew that was happening then the whole season. I knew that Tully and Kate were going to be estranged at the end of the season, but I didn't know how I was going to dramatize that. I knew we were working towards that signpost because I felt like a good cliffhanger for season one is: "Oh my God, wait, these Firefly Lane girls forever are suddenly not? What happened?" I wanted to leave the audience with some big questions.
Sooo what did happen?
I can't tell you!!
Worth a shot. Can you say whether it's something that happens in the book or something that you wrote for the show?
I don't want to say. One of the things I think that's been fun is that we have kept some big moments from the book and been very true to those, and then there are other things that we've done that are different. I hope that people who are big fans of the book, can watch the show and be like, "Oh, my God, there's that moment I remember!" And also be like, "Oh, I'm surprised by this, but it's cool because it's in the spirit of the book, but it's a different thing." So I don't want to say whether it's directly the same thing.
Okay, fiiiiine. If there were to be a second season, would it follow a similar structure with the jumping around in time? Would we see more of Tully and Kate as teens?
Yeah, that would continue to be the structure of the show where we're jumping around in time. I think there are a lot more stories to tell, if we're lucky enough to have a season two, of those girls going through high school and what that's like. They're only in eighth grade when we leave them. They'll have a lot of good teen years and fun seventies, growing up times with the great music and the fashions and all of the cultural changes. I think it's just really interesting. I'd love to keep telling us that those stories and those actors are so good, so of course, I would want to keep seeing them and Beau [Garrett], who plays Cloud, is so great.
Considering Johnny's boom moment, should shippers of Kate and Johnny hold out hope?
I really can't say. I will say I also ship them, but let's see where the story leads them...
Would we be likely to see more of Travis (Brandon Jay McLaren) in a second season?
I also can't say! That's the thing that's so interesting, even though Kate and Johnny are such an amazing couple, it was also really fun to see Kate branch out and date other guys that are really cool too.
You're not going to tell us if Max will be back either are you?
[Laughs] No, but I love them together. I think the two actors have such great chemistry. I love that character and what he does for Tully is really unique and interesting but I don't know...
Firefly Lane is available to stream on Netflix now.
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.
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