Netflix's First Kill sapphic vampire story review.

5 Things That Are Great About ‘First Kill’ (And 5 Things That Aren’t)

Take a bite to see if First Kill is for you!

Let’s cut to the chase: Netflix’s vampire series First Kill is a purposefully corny show that’s very aware of itself. It’s a series that focuses on the relationship between monster hunter Calliope (Imani Lewis) and vampire Juliette (Sarah Catherine Hook). Neither of their families wants them together, and obstacles keep getting in their way. Very Romeo and Juliette—oops, I mean Juliet. 

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While writer V.E. Schwab, who wrote the short story that inspired the series, describes First Kill as Killing Eve meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer—that idea doesn’t fully land. The fact of the matter is that this series caters to a younger queer audience, versus those of us who are older but still manage to enjoy series like this. As someone who loves BTVS and Killing Eve (not that series finale, though), I can see some similarities, though I like to consider First Kill a somewhat typical teen horror drama—one that combines stuff we’ve seen before, but is blatantly queer from the get-go.

Unlike some series that can be recommended easily, it’s somewhat complicated where this one is concerned. As I said above, it caters to a younger queer audience, and the opening credits alone may turn people off immediately. So, let’s look at 5 things that are great about the series and 5 things that aren’t, and you can decide for yourself if you’re more concerned with the pros or the cons.

The great:

The representation

vampire hunter brothers first kill
(Netflix)

The representation is a change of pace because monster hunters aren’t usually a Black family—certainly not one with an openly lesbian daughter who isn’t conflicted about her sexuality. Calliope’s issues don’t come from being closeted, ashamed of herself, or anything surrounding that. Same thing goes for Juliette, whose family is dysfunctional due to vampire society expectations.

Killer producers

emma roberts as brooke in AHS 1984
(FX)

Scream queen Emma Roberts is an executive producer for this show!

Women front and center

Calliope and her mother in Netflix's First Kill.
(Netflix)

How the women aren’t depicted as weaklings compared to their male counterparts. Juliette’s family is run by matriarchs rather than patriarchs, and Calliope’s mother is a very dominant presence in their household. It’s lovely to see a Black woman especially be in control and not be depicted in an aggressive way. (Kudos to them for not turning her into the angry Black woman stereotype.)

Genuine friendship

juliette and ben in First Kill
(Netflix)

The genuine nature of Juliette’s friendship with Ben (Jonas Dylan Allen) and how he doesn’t serve as her Black gay sidekick. In fact, their friendship has got to be one of the best relationships that Juliette has on the show. 

The costumes!

elinor in First Kill
(Netflix)

The costume design for this show is very much on point. Characters who standout in terms of their looks are Calliope, Juliette, Ben, Elinor (Gracie Dzienny), Margot (Elizabeth Mitchell), and Talia (Aubin Wise). 

The not so great:

The acting

calliope talking to juliette in First Kill
(Netflix)

The acting for a fair amount of the characters (other than the older actors) is relatively weak, unfortunately. Much of the dialogue is very soapy (again, the show is intentionally cheesy). Maybe that’s part of the magic of the show? But it may easily take you out of certain scenes, and that makes for a weird watching experience. 

Production value

monster in First Kill
(Netflix)

The opening credits and CGI are so cheap looking, and with it being a Netflix series, that’s somewhat disappointing. Throughout the show, there are effects that look like a poorly made CW show. If you’re into that, then this won’t bug you. 

Some weak writing in the main ship

juliette and calliope in First Kill
(Netflix)

Calliope’s back and forth with Juliette. She’s way too hot/cold with her, and it comes across as poor writing rather than genuine indecisiveness. And it puts a damper on the chemistry they have as characters. 

Overbearing parents

calliope's parents in First Kill
(Netflix)

Calliope’s parents are very annoying about Juliette being a vampire. They are constantly trying to control Calliope, and all it does is backfire in heinous ways (that could’ve been avoided). This may just be the poor writing that’s rampant throughout the show, especially since this series feels like it has very little direction overall.

And more of the writing

The writing as a whole, for this show, is very much lacking. It sounds harsh, but it feels almost like a rough draft. And as much as the sapphic representation is a huge part of why this show is receiving love, that’s not enough for all of us, and it shouldn’t be enough. A show like this deserves better writing, direction, and CGI.

(featured image: Netflix)


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Author
Vanessa Maki
Vanessa Maki (she/her) is a queer Blerd and contributing writer for The Mary Sue. She first started writing for digital magazines in 2018 and her articles have appeared in Pink Advocate (defunct), The Gay Gaze (defunct), Dread Central and more. She primarily writes about movies, TV, and anime. Efforts to make her stop loving complex/villainous characters or horror as a genre will be futile.