The Netflix summer show First Kill is not perfect. The CGI graphics are sorely lacking, the plot is sometimes predictable, and it is often campy and sometimes even cheesy. Despite all of this, did I still binge the show in one weekend? Yes. Not without its pitfalls, First Kill is still a fun must-watch summer show that is perfect for binge-watching and tailor made for a new generation to have their own version of Buffy/Twilight/Vampire Diaries. Growing up watching and reading the Twilight series and later watching all six seasons of True Blood, I thought I had seen my fill of forbidden vampire romances, but First Kill still managed to hook me. Despite its minor flaws, the show also gets a lot right. It handles the queer relationship at the center of the show with care and intelligently leans into the angsty chemistry between the two leads. Juliette (played by Sarah Catherine Hook) as the vampire and Calliope (played by Imani Lewis) as the human monster hunter are fun to watch both in their respective storylines and together on screen. The show brilliantly forgoes the slow burn trope that queer TV relationships are often relegated to, in fact they share a steamy kiss by the first episode. Also brilliantly, the show does away with the “coming out” storyline. Both main characters are layered with respective family pressures and teenage angst, but their queerness is just one aspect of their characters. In fact, the show just cruises over "coming out" altogether. Juliette briefly mentions coming out to her friend in a montage and Calliope casually mentions a conversation she had with her mom. The show brilliantly creates a queer relationship with high stakes for both characters without centering those stakes on their queerness. The show also does a great job creating a mythos that feels familiar yet unique. In fact, many aspects of the show felt like fun homages to other vampire medias. First Kill's use of “blood pills” to hold off vampire hunger is reminiscent to the blood bottles in HBO’s True Blood. Many fans of Buffy are sure to feel a call back to the show during Calliope’s many monster hunting training sessions. Similarly, much like Twilight or Vampire Diaries, the vampires have the ability to blend into society by walking in the sun. First Kill creates their own unique twist on this with the use of "legacy vampires," whose superior blood lines allow them to blend in with humans easier. Juliette is a legacy vampire and as such she can see her own reflection, go in the sun, and is virtually indestructible. This is juxtaposed with the fact that she is also a teenager complete with teen awkwardness and naiveté. Calliope on the other hand, while not supernatural, is a monster hunter rendering her knowledgeable to monsters but rather out of touch with people. In fact, Calliope is from a family of monster hunters who seem more focused on hunting monsters than saving people. As Juliette and Calliope forge a Romeo and Juliet type romance, they put their families further at odds and come face to face with their own beliefs.
While First Kill is not perfect, its handling of the queer relationship at the heart of the show makes it a must watch. The chemistry between the two main characters shines when they are on screen together. Other strong performances from side characters such as Juliette’s sister Elinor and Calliope’s mother Talia help the cast eclipse the faults of the show. If you were a fan of Twilight, True Blood, Vampire Diaries, or if you are simply looking for a fun summer watch, spend a weekend binging First Kill. There is already buzz about season two, and for good reason, considering the show's captivating cliffhanger season finale. You can stream First Kill in its entirety on Netflix.
Autumn Andersen is an editor for Penumbra Online and grad student at CSU Stanislaus. She enjoys reading, writing, and talking about her favorite shows.