Sapphic vampire drama First Kill staked after just one season and fans are pissed because Heartstopper, a more gay male-led show, was immediately renewed for TWO more series’.
Netflix went in with youth-focused LGBTQ+ shows from both sides of the pond in 2022, and made a big deal about its commitment to queer-led programming while doing so.
Increasingly, streamers and their attention to inclusive LGBTQ+ programming can make or break whether they bank those queer subscribers, or if we take our money elsewhere (Disney Plus, for example, has a whole raft of LGBTQ+ programming).
First Kill is based on a short story from horror writer V. E. Schwab, who is also an executive producer for the TV adaptation, and stars Imani Lewis and Sarah Catherine Hook as Calliope and Juliette, two teenage girls who meet at high school and fall in love.
Their relationship gets complicated, however, when they discover their hidden identities: Calliope is the daughter of a long family line of vampire hunters, while Juliette is a “legacy”, a child born to a vampire family.
On Tuesday (August2 ), it was announced that the streamer had called time on First Kill after just one season.
Variety reports that sources close to the matter maintain Netflix is proud of the work that producers, cast and crew put in on the series, but the decision came down to a matter of viewing numbers versus cost.
Meanwhile Heartstopper, an adaptation of Alice Oseman’s graphic novel of the same name, was immediately green lit for two more seasons upon the conclusion of its season one outing.
Heartstopper tells the story of gentle Charlie and rugby-loving Nick who meet at secondary school, where they quickly discover that their unlikely friendship is blossoming into an unexpected romance.
The two shows, though different in narrative and tone, were compared off the bat because they both centre on young LGBTQ+ characters, in school, falling in love. Plus they were released within months of each other.
First Kill fans have been expressing anger and disappointment at the Netflix’s ‘confusing’ approach to the two shows following their respective season one outings, not because Heartstopper doesn’t deserve two extra seasons (we’ve yet to meet a single person who would say that), but because First Kill appeared to deliver the goods for Netflix, coming out on top in terms of numbers.
Tracking sites say that First Kill racked up 97.6 million viewing hours when it was hanging out inside Netflix’s top 10. By contrast, Heartstopper racked up just a little more than half that, 53.4 million hours.
so ur telling me netflix cancelled first kill, the show that got over twice as many views as heartstopper (which got renewed for 2 more seasons), because it..*checks notes*…“did not meet thresholds for viewing and completion of episodes”…. https://t.co/2ot4ZOJoeg pic.twitter.com/u27JlZk3Fq
— professional tl terrorizer | RENAISSANCE OUT NOW (@fandomtingz_) August 3, 2022
If it’s a money thing, then it’s not the first time Netflix has cut a hugely popular LGBTQ+ show due to production costs (we’re still not over the loss of Sense 8), but it may also come down to critical receptions.
Heartstopper secured an extremely rare perfect 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes and a gigantic 97% audience score.
First Kill, in contrast, got somewhat of a lukewarm response from critics, with just a 58% score. Although it received considerably higher numbers with audience scoring, bagging a whopping 90%.
In any instance, it’s truly disappointing to have any queer-led content cut short so early, and Sapphic fans of the show are understandably gutted.
As one user put it, “we’re not comapring first kill with heartstopper we’re comparing how netflix treats mlm-centric shows to how they treat their wlw shows”
Here are some reactions from Twitter:
netflix is weird as hell for cancelling first kill. a successful wlw show with a black female lead being cancelled after outperforming SEVERAL netflix originals?… what
— ceo of kory • JAYVAN DAY (@korysverse) August 3, 2022
I don’t care if straights thought first kill was too campy/cheesy or had bad cgi, YOU HAVE 100 VERSIONS OF THAT, WE ARE ALLOWED TO WANT A GAY VERSION TOO!! NOT EVERY SHOW HAS TO BE A POETIC CINEMATIC MASTERPIECE
— Jazz ⧗ (@DerpSwan) August 3, 2022
wlw shows we lost in 2021/22:
first kill, the wilds, gentleman jack, batwoman, wynonna earp, supergirl, killing eve, atypical, black lightning, legends of tomorrow, dickinson, the owl house, legacies, motherland fort salem
— jen (@luthorgirl) August 3, 2022
was season 1 of first kill perfect? no. but I hate that lgbtq+ and bipoc shows are expected to be perfect right out of the gate?!?!!!! why can’t they be campy and fun and that’s enough?!?!
— Nora Dominick (@noradominick) August 3, 2022
the way first kill trended top 10 in the US for like 2 months and it still got canceled.. yeah netflix actually hates wlw that’s insane
— ︎s (@willesimaug) August 3, 2022
the craziest part is that it’s not even like first kill did BAD. it was trending for WEEKS, it did NUMBERS, like netflix would rather lose money than renew it ?
— ria. tea’s wife (REAL) (@lgbtzenin) August 3, 2022
first kill did infinitely better in numbers than heartstopper but yk what the difference is? that its a lesbian show and netflix didnt even give it a budget or a chance just like the other shows they’ve cancelled
— CLOSED. (@mjpcters) August 3, 2022
reminder that heartstopper existing has nothing to do with netflix cancelling first kill
— existentialdread (@awkwardplatypi) August 3, 2022
if you’re having a conversation about why First Kill was cancelled don’t forget to mention that Calliope is a darkskin black lesbian lead and nonblacks can deny all they want but Calliope being black especially darkskin plays a huge role its not just bc FK is a lesbian show
— calliettes quotes bot (@calliettequotes) August 3, 2022
we're not comapring first kill with heartstopper we're comparing how netflix treats mlm-centric shows to how they treat their wlw shows
— kay! (@KlTKATKAY) August 3, 2022