Canceled by Netflix: it's the end of the road for Firefly Lane

Firefly Lane
(Image credit: Netflix)

Netflix executives have curtailed plans for its soapy drama, Firefly Lane, which will now end after two seasons. 

Though the show hadn't been formally confirmed for a third run, it was expected that the drama would continue after its second season. The show had racked up 1.3 billion viewing minutes in just its first five days, according to Nielsen's weekly look at the biggest shows on streaming services, which you'd imagine would set the show up for the long term. 

Instead, the streaming service has decided to end the show with season two, but a season two that will arrive, Ozark and Stranger Things style, in two parts. The season will comprise 16 episodes, with the first nine available to watch from December 2, and the second batch of seven episodes premiering sometime in 2023.

Firefly Lane stars Scrubs' Sarah Chalke and one-time Greys' Anatomy focal point Katherine Heigl. Based on the novel of the same name by Kristin Hannah, the show documents the 30-year-plus friendship between Heigl's Tully Hart and Chalke's Kate Mularkey. Friends since the age of 14, the pair have been through endless ups and downs, and loves and losses. 

Created by Maggie Friedman, whose credits include Dawson's Creek and Witches of East End, the show co-starred Ben Lawson, Beau Garrett, Ali Skovbye, Roan Curtis and Yael Yurman, with India de Beaufort, Greg Germann, Jolene Purdy and Ignacio Serricchio joining the cast for season two. 

Analysis: a surprise move from Netflix?

Netflix's buzzier shows are big-budget affairs like Stranger Things, The Crown and Bridgerton, the tentpole productions that drive the push to attract new subscribers. The unsung heroes, meanwhile, are shows like Virgin River, Sweet Magnolias and the long-running Grace and Frankie, comfort-viewing shows with modest budgets and loyal fanbases. 

These shows return once a year, always returning slightly bigger audience viewers than the last run, and for every $200 million dollar miniseries, you need one or two such series. You can't eat gourmet cooking every night – sometimes you just want a bowl of cereal. 

This makes the end of Firefly Lane all the more surprising. The show had the same cosy feel as Virgin River and Sweet Magnolias, and, though Chalke is recognizable from her roles in Scrubs and How I Met Your Mother, and Heigl is remembered for Knocked Up and 27 Dresses, they aren't A-listers who would have commanded mega salaries. 

To us, this had the feel of a show that could run and run. It wouldn't get the same fanfare as Netflix's tentpoles, there'd be no panel at Comic Con, no splashy presence at Tudum, and no billboards, but it should have been a steady banker. 

None of the reports about the show's demise have hinted at behind-the-scenes problems, such as ballooning budgets or script issues; this just appears to be a change of strategy from Netflix, and you can color us surprised. 

Tom Goodwyn
Freelance Entertainment Writer

Tom Goodwyn was formerly TechRadar's Senior Entertainment Editor. He's now a freelancer writing about TV shows, documentaries and movies across streaming services, theaters and beyond. Based in East London, he loves nothing more than spending all day in a movie theater, well, he did before he had two small children…