First Kill showrunner just fired back at Netflix over cancelation

First Kill on Netflix
(Image credit: Netflix)

Earlier this week, Netflix confirmed that teen vampire drama First Kill was canceled after just a single season. Now the showrunner of the latest addition to the lengthy list of Netflix shows canceled in 2022 has spoken out — and unsurprisingly, she's not pleased about the show’s fate. 

Showrunner Felicia D. Henderson recently spoke to the Daily Beast about the show’s cancelation in a candid interview. She first explained what it was about First Kill that drew her attention: “I so enthusiastically signed on to this show as it has something for everyone. Strong women leads, supernatural intrigue, an epic, Shakespearean battle between warring families, and a prominently featured Black family in the genre space, something Black viewers crave and a general audience needs to be treated to.” 

Unfortunately, Henderson was less than impressed with how Netflix opted to market the show: “The art for the initial marketing was beautiful. I think I expected that to be the beginning and that the other equally compelling and important elements of the show — monsters vs. monster hunters, the battle between two powerful matriarchs, etc. — would eventually be promoted, and that didn’t happen.” 

A production source previously told the Daily Beast that the trailers portrayed the show as predominantly a lesbian love story and downplayed its supernatural action, which may have limited its reach. 

Fans of the show have also accused Netflix of not marketing the show enough, with some Netflix subscribers even claiming the first time they heard about the series was when its cancelation was confirmed.

Even with less than stellar marketing, the show still appeared to make a splash when it launched on Netflix in June of this year. First Kill rocketed straight into the Netflix top 10, peaking at No.3 and amassing more than 100m viewing hours in its first 28 days on the streaming service. There was good reason to be optimistic about a second season getting the green light. 

“The show is kick-ass and we were in the top five globally and domestically for three of the first four weeks. I was very hopeful [of a season two],” said Henderson. “When I got the call to tell me they weren’t renewing the show because the completion rate wasn’t high enough, of course, I was very disappointed, what showrunner wouldn’t be? I’d been told a couple of weeks ago that they were hoping completion would get higher. I guess it didn’t.”

It seems that the sticking point for Netflix was indeed a low completion rate, which would indicate that a large number of subscribers started First Kill but comparatively few actually made it through the show’s entire eight-episode run. This may have spooked Netflix into believing that a second season wouldn’t be able to replicate the initial success of the first, and so the streamer decided to swiftly cancel it.  

To Henderson’s credit, she doesn’t seem bitter about the situation and expressed appreciation to Netflix for giving the show a shot in the first place. “They licensed the IP, paid for a pilot script, and gave it a healthy production budget,” she explained. However, the show’s cancelation clearly comes as a disappointment to Henderson, and no doubt to the rest of the show’s creative team as well. 

Henderson isn’t the only one frustrated at Netflix’s latest cancelation. In the hours after it was confirmed that First Kill had been axed, searches for terms including “cancel Netflix” and “why does Netlfix cancel good shows” soared by 250% (data via Jeffbet). Over on Twitter, #CancelNetflix was also trending as viewers took to social media to express their anger at another promising show being canceled way too soon. 

If the show passed you by, First Kill was based on a short story by Victoria Schwab and centered on a forbidden romance between two high school students: Juliette Fairmont (Sarah Catherine Hook), the youngest of a coven of vampires preparing to make her first kill, and Calliope Burns (Imani Lewis), a member of a family of celebrated monster slayers. The duo should be sworn enemies — but the situation is complicated when they develop romantic feelings for each other.

First Kill is far from the first abrupt Netflix cancelation in recent months. It joins the likes of Archive 81, The Midnight Gospel and Gentefied as Netflix shows canceled after just a single season in 2022. We’ve said it before, but when it comes to Netflix shows, our advice is don’t get too attached. As First Kill proves, even shows that look successful right out of the gate aren’t guaranteed their future on the streaming service. 

Rory Mellon
Entertainment Editor (UK)

Rory is an Entertainment Editor at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics but with a particular focus on gaming and streaming. When he’s not reviewing the latest games, searching for hidden gems on Netflix, or writing hot takes on new gaming hardware, TV shows and movies, he can be found attending music festivals and getting far too emotionally invested in his favorite football team.