First Kill is officially dead. Netflix is notoriously ruthless when it comes to canceling TV shows, with the streamer canning more than a dozen series this year alone. Unfortunately, this cancellation bloodbath isn’t over — because there’s a fresh victim to add to the list.
Deadline reports that teen vampire drama First Kill has been axed after just a single season. The show is now the latest addition to the increasingly lengthy list of Netflix shows canceled in 2022, and its axing comes less than two months after the show debuted on June 10.
First Kill even managed to break into the Netflix top 10 most-watched list, but it would appear even that wasn’t enough to convince the streamer to greenlight a second season. So, after just eight episodes, fans will have to bid goodbye to the Farimont and Burns families for good.
What is First Kill about?
First Kill opens with adolescent vampire Juliette Fairmont (Sarah Catherine Hook), the youngest of a powerful bloodsucking coven, preparing to make her first kill in order to take her place among her family.
Juliette sets her fangs on the new girl in town, Calliope Burns (Imani Lewis), but is shocked to discover that Calliope is actually a vampire hunter in training and part of a family of notorious monster hunters. The duo should be sworn enemies — but the situation is complicated when they develop romantic feelings for each other.
Their forbidden romance brings to a head the simmering tensions between the two families, and there’s also the small problem that both Juliette and Calliope are sort of destined to kill the other, which is a pretty big obstacle in the path of their blossoming relationship. Well, nobody ever said that young love was easy.
The show is based on a short story of the same name by series creator Victoria Schwab and has drawn obvious comparisons to Twilight and The Vampire Diaries. But its injection of teenage hormones does at least give the show some originality in a genre that is fairly overcrowded.
What do critics say about First Kill?
First Kill is another example of a Netflix show appealing more to viewers than critics. The show earned an underwhelming 58% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes, but its audience rating stands at a pretty impressive 89%, suggesting that Netflix subscribers found plenty to sink their teeth into here.
Angie Han of The Hollywood Reporter called First Kill a “pleasant distraction that goes down easy enough,” but did note that it “comes nowhere near capturing the all-encompassing allure of a really irresistible binge, let alone of a forbidden first love.”
Its representation of same-sex relationships drew plenty of praise, though. Polygon’s Olivia Truffant-Wong noted that “First Kill has something few other vampire shows have right now: a super hot, super sweet same-sex romance at its center.”
Conversely, Brain Lowry of CNN took a stake to the show’s heart, saying, “The one-line description — Romeo and Juliet, only adapted here as the crucifix-crossed romance between a vampire and a vampire slayer — seems ripe for mockery, and the execution doesn't do much to blunt it.”
Analysis: This Netflix cancelation sucks
Netflix appears to set a pretty high bar for shows to clear in order to earn additional seasons, and First Kill is the latest promising series to fail to clear it.
The show enjoyed a reasonably successful launch, cracking the Netflix top 10 in its first week of release and peaking at No.3 behind only juggernaut hits Stranger Things season 4 and Peaky Blinder seasons 6. Deadline also reports the show cleared 100m viewing hours in its first 28 days on the streaming service.
On the surface, these seem like solid numbers and would indicate that First Kill was worth persisting with. However, Netflix also has plenty of data that it doesn’t make available to the public and it's likely the answer to why First Kill has been unceremoniously canceled can be found there.
Perhaps First Kill had a relatively weak retention rate, with many viewers watching a couple of episodes before abandoning the show. Or maybe it faded into the Netflix content vacuum a little too quickly. Whatever the reason, the ultimate fates of Juliette and Calliope are likely to be left forever unknown.
Either way, First Kill's showrunner Felicia D. Henderson blames Netflix's marketing of the show for its cancelation, stating that “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.”
First Kill joins the likes of Archive 81, The Midnight Gospel and Gentefied as Netflix shows canceled after just a single season in 2022. It’s a list that no Netflix show wants to find itself on, but at least anything on it is in good company. Many of the series axed already by Netflix this year really deserved a second shot at finding a larger audience, and that’s definitely the case with First Kill.