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First Kill Review: Netflix's Teen Interracial Queer Vampire Drama Is a Bad Show with a Good Message

First Kill is a safe space for LGBTQ romance

Tim Surette
Imani Lewis and Sarah Catherine Hook, First Kill

Imani Lewis and Sarah Catherine Hook, First Kill

Brian Douglas/Netflix

As soon as I read the logline for First Kill, a young adult drama about a white teenage vampire girl who falls for a Black teenage vampire hunter girl in Savannah, Georgia, I knew the world needed to know about it. Adapted by YA novelist V.E. Schwab from her own short story, First Kill unapologetically checks YA boxes right out of the gate: Interracial romance! Lesbian high schoolers! Supernatural shenanigans! It's a classic tale of girl meets girl, vampire girl realizes other girl is a vampire hunter, girl tries to rip out girl's neck, girl stakes girl through the heart, girls fall in love anyway. It's not a good show, but it does have a good message: Love is love. Netflix is releasing this during Pride Month for a reason. 

The deeper setup is well-to-do vampire Juliette (Sarah Catherine Hook) is pressured by her family to make her first kill not just as a rite of vampire passage, but because she biologically needs blood that she's tapped herself and can't sip sanguine Capri-Suns anymore. On the other side of town, Calliope (Imani Lewis) comes from a long line of monster hunters and is trying to prove to her family that she's ready to make her first kill. Wouldn't you know it, Juliette's simmering crush on Cal makes their paths collide in a messy closet meet-up at a high school party that's both violent and seductive. 


First Kill


  • It's a shame-free interracial gay relationship environment
  • Some of the silly campiness is fun
  • Unexpected violence!


  • Some rough dialogue and storytelling
  • Bad CGI and makeup

After that, First Kill lays on the Romeo and Juliet comparisons thick — she's even named Juliette, and bonus: Elizabeth Mitchell, who was Juliet in Lost, plays her mom. The forbidden romance at the center of it all is generated by the pressures of girls' families since they're in a generations-deep war with each other. But First Kill is at its best when the tension of their romance comes from the girls themselves. Despite their instant attraction to each other, Juliette's urges to drain Cal and Cal's knowledge that Juliette is a monster provide enough energy to maintain a season of will-they-won't-they. First Kill probably would have been better if it followed a track of Killing Eve — the BBC America series about a British intelligence agent and the assassin she's hunting down developing a mutual obsession with each other in a game of cat-and-mouse — rather than Romeo and Juliet, and it does that for most of the first episode before veering into territory that's all too familiar.  

And while the eight episodes are packed with CW-grade supernatural nonsense — side stories of secondary characters mostly get in the way of the juicy stuff despite a fun performance from Gracie Dzienny as Juliette's hard-partying sister Elinor and confident acting from newcomer Jonas Dylan Allen as Juliette's best friend Ben — it's the kind of nonsense that goes down easy depending on your tolerance for campiness and dialogue such as, "You ate my mother?" Murder cover-ups in blood-stained dresses, fights with zombies in the high school cafeteria, neighborhood Karens shaving wooden stakes and singing Shania Twain, a MAAD-like Mothers Against Monsters group that chants, "No more vamps, no more ghouls, no more monsters in our schools!," and the aforementioned mother-eating prove there's a least some sense by producers that they know what they're making, giving First Kill some charm that shines through some lesser production values and unintentional corniness. (Netflix didn't give First Kill a Stranger Things budget.) 

But what will make First Kill a hit with some is its honest, shame-free, refreshing portrayal of an interracial LGBTQ relationship between two high school girls. Yeah, the relationship comes to through dramatic furtive glances and well-timed music cues that develop into hands-in-each-other's-pants hookups against a wall more than honest character relationship building (these two just like each other, OK?), but the warning conveyed here is that the relationship is dangerous because it's between a vampire hunter and a vampire, not because it's a white girl and a Black girl. And even then, First Kill isn't even that anti-vampire and vampire hunter relationship. It's honest, open, and accepting, something that's immeasurably important for young gay teens who don't see a lot of that on television. 

Premieres: Friday, June 10 on Netflix (all 8 episodes)
Who's in it: Imani Lewis, Sarah Catherine Hook, Elizabeth Mitchell
Who's behind it: V.E. Schwab (creator), Felicia Henderson (showrunner)
For fans of: Twilight, Romeo and Juliet love stories, LGBTQ romances
How many episodes we watched: 8