Culture Pick: “First Kill” doesn’t need to be stellar to be enjoyable

Maddy Reda | @maddyreda1, Assistant Culture Editor

Audiences everywhere are sinking their teeth into Netflix’s “First Kill,” which started streaming on June 10.

Netflix’s newest LGBTQ+ series is based off the short story by V.E Schwab , in which vampire Juliette Fairmont falls in love with vampire hunter, Calliope Burns. Their forbidden romance soon sparks a war amongst their families, and the series follows the high school couple struggling to keep their love alive in a world of monsters and mayhem.

The show echoes similar aesthetics and themes seen in other supernatural teen dramas like “Riverdale” and “The Vampire Diaries,” with corny dialogue that shapes sappy romances and an abundance of scary ghosts and ghouls.

Juliette and Calliope do not follow the predator-prey dynamic of most vampire-human romance tropes, a bold and refreshing choice that the young adult vampire fiction genre rarely explores. Both protagonists demonstrate intelligence, strength and are situated as equals on either side of an ages-old war.

A diverse cast does not, however, exempt “First Kill” from falling into the common dark fantasy trope of the two love interests forming a deeply toxic relationship out of lies and attempts to murder one another.

While “First Kill” gives ample backstory to set up a second season, its eight relatively short episodes  don’t allow audiences enough time to fall in love with the monster-infested streets of Savannah, Georgia.

The show often introduces a series of new characters all at once, barely pumping the breaks to stop and develop a potential subplot before moving on to the next exciting battle or romance scene.

The show doesn’t display the most impressive CGI quality despite its plot relying on magic snakes, demons and monsters, and carries an undersaturated plotline, giving the show a cliche taste that audiences either savor or spit out.

While “First Kill” may stumble into several pitfalls in its development and execution, the show is intersectional and diverse.

The show does not ask permission to take up space in the vampire and fantasy  genre, places where people of color and members of the LGBTQ+ community are rarely featured, let alone celebrated.

In an interview with New York Times, Felicia D. Henderson, the showrunner, head writer and executive producer of “First Kill,” said artists have a duty to make television reflect intersectionality.

“First Kill” is a show where we normalize queer love, where we normalize a Black family being in the genre space, where we get to normalize kick-ass young women,” Henderson said. “We get an opportunity, as artists, to make the world like it should be.”

Imani Lewis, the actress portraying Calliope, said in an interview with CBS, that she finds it refreshing to see LGBTQ+ people portrayed like this.

“I think what I love more than anything is that their queerness is not the point of conflict. That is not where their struggle lies and that’s well understood,” Lewis said. “The bigger fight is that they’re supposed to kill each other.”

At its core, “First Kill” is a cheesy supernatural teen romance that is the perfect addition to any Pride month watchlist.