Netflix axed — or, perhaps more appropriately, staked — teen vampire drama First Kill. But it’s not the streaming platform’s first kill. In fact, it’s just the most recent addition to Netflix’s growing list of shows centered on lesbian characters that were scrapped after one season, and is joining the likes of Everything Sucks! and I Am Not Okay With This.
First Kill is about a high school romance between Juliette, a vampire, and Calliope, a monster hunter, and is based on a short story by V. E. Schwab. Since they’re both book adaptations with LGBTQ+ main characters that Netflix dropped within a couple of months of each other, the show was immediately compared to Heartstopper. The latter, however, has been renewed for another two seasons.
Besides the supernatural element, perhaps the most notable difference between the shows is the race and gender of their main characters. Heartstopper centers on a romance between two white boys, whereas First Kill centers on a romance between two girls, one of whom (Calliope, played by Imani Lewis) is Black. Given that, at least according to current streaming data, First Kill was streamed almost twice as much as Heartstopper, fans of the vampire series can’t help but feel like these differences played a role in Netflix’s decision to renew Heartstopper and not First Kill.
\u201cnetflix is weird as hell for cancelling first kill. a successful wlw show with a black female lead being cancelled after outperforming SEVERAL netflix originals?\u2026 what\u201d— ceo of kory \u2022 JAYVAN DAY (@ceo of kory \u2022 JAYVAN DAY) 1659488735
\u201cNETFLIX CANCELED A LESBIAN SHOW WITH AN UNAPOLOGETICALLY BLACK FAMILY WITH A CHARACTER WHO WAS NOT ONLY A LEAD BUT ALSO DARKSKIN I AM SO FUCKING PISSED OFF\u201d— \u00c2ngel (@\u00c2ngel) 1659493382
Some Twitter users feel like First Kill’s low budget and lack of promotion are evidence that Netflix didn’t care about the series from the start:
\u201cMind you sapphics defied the fucking ODDS for First Kill, Netflix had already cancelled it before it even aired and the lack of promo alone tells you they had no intentions of it making it past s1. Just anti blackness and lesbophobia running all THROUGH THE BITCH.\u201d— \u2b52 (@\u2b52) 1659493855
Other possible reasons why First Kill was canceled and not renewed like Heartstopper, as laid out by a Forbes article titled “Why Did Netflix Cancel ‘First Kill,’ With Double Heartstopper’s Viewing Hours?” are: the current streaming data is outdated and Heartstopper actually did do better numbers-wise, First Kill’s source material is more limited, and First Kill’s supernatural special effects made it way more costly.
Another potential reason for the cancellation is the show’s bad reviews and reception among critics — it has a 58% critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes versus an 89% audience score. As some Twitter users have pointed out, however, Netflix doesn’t seem to value these factors much when it comes to renewals (see: the infamous 365 Days franchise). So why, with such good streaming numbers and a huge support base, would Netflix cancel the bloody series? Despite all of its successes, at least according to Deadline, First Kill “still did not meet thresholds for viewing and completion of episodes.”
Netflix is far from the only streaming platform infamous for axing shows with prominently featured lesbian characters and storylines — Prime Video’s The Wilds is the most recent cancellation in this category. But just maybe, especially since it’s already in its flop era, Netflix should avoid alienating any more groups, and simply let lesbians have nice things — like campy vampire fun. Instead, gay people everywhere are now praying on its downfall:
Photo via Netflix