First Kill: Bring On The Supernatural Sapphics [Review]

Happy Pride Month, queer fans of the spooky and supernatural! Netflix is ready to help you celebrate with a new sapphic supernatural romance series, First Kill.

When it’s time for teenage vampire Juliette (Sarah Catherine Hook) to make her first kill so she can take her place among a powerful vampire family, she sets her sights on a new girl in town named Calliope (Imani Lewis). But much to Juliette’s surprise, Calliope is a vampire hunter from a family of celebrated slayers. Both find that the other won’t be so easy to kill and, unfortunately, way too easy to fall for.

Buffy meets Killing Eve?

First Kill was described by creator V.E. Schwab as Buffy meets Killing Eve – two shows I love, albeit for different reasons. So, does that descriptor hold up?

Well, the series is definitely a little bit Buffy, since the plot does feature a teen vampire hunter who ends up falling in love with one of the creatures she’s sworn to destroy. Tonally though, they’re pretty different shows. First Kill isn’t without its humor, but it’s not the same kind of snappy wit that defined the Buffy era.

As for Killing Eve… honestly the only comparison there I can make is that both shows center around a (forbidden?) sapphic romance. Killing Eve cut its teeth on multiple seasons of will-they-won’t-they tension. First Kill brings its romantic leads together literally halfway through the first episode. That makes it sort of the opposite of Killing Eve, actually.

First Kill. (L to R) Imani Lewis as Calliope, Sarah Catherine Hook as Juliette in episode 106 of First Kill. Cr. Brian Douglas/Netflix © 2022

So, Buffy meets Killing Eve may not be the most accurate description of First Kill. But don’t worry, I’ve got a better one for you. This show is actually Supernatural meets Romeo and Juliet.

What’s the opposite of a slow burn romance? First Kill.

Meet Juliette Fairmont and Calliope Burns. They’re here, they’re queer… and they’re 16. So, they’re in love after a single conversation and one steamy makeout session.

As I said, it’s all very Romeo + Juliet.

I’ll be honest – it’s not my favorite approach. I’m more of a slow burn romance lover myself. But hey, these teens know what they want, and they’re going for it. So if you’re tired of waiting on will-they, won’t-they dynamics (or worse, worried about queerbaiting), rest assured: First Kill will not keep you waiting.

First Kill. (L to R) Imani Lewis as Calliope Burns, Sarah Catherine Hook as Juliette Fairmont in episode 106 of First Kill. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

I can see the appeal of jumping straight into the romance of your supernatural romance show… but I still wish First Kill had saved Jules and Cal’s get-together for at least episode 2. The unconventional narrative framing in the first episode, combined with the speed-run romance, gave us as viewers very little time to learn about our leads and start to care about them as individuals. I just would have appreciated more time (or any time, really) to want the pair to get together before they actually did.

Fun supernatural lore and a great extended cast

Where the series does dedicate some time, however, is in setting up the opposing dynamics between the Fairbanks and Burns families. The family dynamics, combined with the extra layer of vampire societal tradition and hunter’s Guild rules, easily provides First Kill with compelling conflicts to drive the show forward.

In particular, the fact that Cal comes from a long line of monster hunters (not just vampire hunters) gives the series a little something extra. We get to see Cal and her family put their skills to work taking out ghouls, zombies, and more, giving the series some additional supernatural action. (Plus, it’s a great door to keep open for potential future seasons – you can always create a new creature to cause trouble.)

First Kill. (L to R) Imani Lewis as Calliope, Aubin Wise as Talia Burns, Dominic Goodman as Apollo Burns, Phillip Mullings Jr. as Theo Burns, Exie Booker as Mike Franklin, Jason R. Moore as Jack Burns in episode 103 of First Kill. Cr. Brian Douglas/Netflix © 2022

I also just really enjoyed what the extended cast brought to the series from a plot and emotional angle. Focusing entirely on Jules and Cal’s relationship could leave the show feeling too one-note and devoid of conflict. But tying their families – and the community’s fear of monsters – up in their dynamic keeps things interesting.

In particular, shoutout to Aubin Wise and Gracie Dzienny. Wise plays Talia, Cal’s mom. She has some of the most powerfully emotional scenes in the series, and I felt completely captivated whenever she was on screen. (Someone cast her in more projects immediately, please.) Dzienny plays Elinor, Juliette’s ambitious, “mean girl” older sister with an enthusiasm that makes it feel like she’s definitely the cast member having the most fun with her role. We can’t pass up a “love to hate her” character, right?

First Kill. (L to R) Will Swenson as Sebastian Fairmont, Sarah Catherine Hook as Juliette, Gracie Dzienny as Elinor Fairmont, Elizabeth Mitchell as Margot Fairmont in episode 101 of First Kill. Cr. Brian Douglas/Netflix © 2022

A little shallow, but pretty bingeable

Overall, First Kill offers up a perfectly acceptable and moderately bingeable first season. The show introduces a lot of interesting supernatural elements and hints at deeper monster lore in its Savannah community in a way that will pique your curiosity.

I do wish the show went deeper into some of these concepts, though. At only eight episodes – and with the romance kicking off midway through the pilot – the pacing of First Kill can come across as rushed, leaving only a shallow impression of its lore and emotional potential. It’s not bad. It just feels like the series has so much it wants to weave into its supernatural world, and not enough time to do that in a satisfactory way. I would have liked to see First Kill with say, a 13 episode first season instead.

The way the supernatural world-building sometimes comes across as too shallow is especially challenging because it’s arguably more interesting than the central romance of the show. Don’t get me wrong. I like Cal and Jules together. But I’m not feeling that all-consuming shipping fire of needing them to be together. If I might make the same Romeo and Juliet reference the series itself makes… I’m fine to love First Kill moderately.

Still, while I think First Kill could do more, it’s a perfectly enjoyable watch. If the premise of a sapphic supernatural series sounds up your alley, you’ll no doubt find it a bingeable enough show. There’s definitely enough here to build a fandom around.

First Kill poster

Summary A little bit Buffy, a little bit Supernatural, and a lot Romeo + Juliet, First Kill offers up a satisfyingly sapphic supernatural romance boosted by the complexities of its extended cast. The lore sometimes comes off as too shallow and rushed, but there’s certainly enough here to build a fandom around.