First Kill had all the ingredients for another streaming hit among young Netflix viewers, as the show focused on vampires and monsters, subjects proven time and again to be a success. Unfortunately for the show’s fans, Netflix didn’t see enough instant success and the show was canceled on Tuesday, less than two months after its first season was released. Showrunner Felicia D. Henderson blamed Netflix’s lack of marketing for the show’s quick cancellation and lack of success.
“When I got the call to tell me they weren’t renewing the show because the completion rate wasn’t high enough, of course, I was very disappointed,” Henderson told The Daily Beast Wednesday. “What showrunner wouldn’t be? I’d been told a couple of weeks ago that they were hoping completion would get higher. I guess it didn’t.”
Although the initial art for the show was “beautiful,” Henderson said, the streamer never built on that. “I think I expected that to be the beginning and that the other equally compelling and important elements of the show-monsters vs. monster hunters, the battle between two powerful matriarchs, etc.-would eventually be promoted, and that didn’t happen,” she said. A source close to the production told The Daily Beast that the few ads Netflix released leaned heavily on the lesbian love story instead of the supernatural elements.
First Kill was based on a short story by Victoria Schwab, who also created the series. It centers on teenage vampire Juliette (Sara Catherine Hook), who needs to make her first kill to join her powerful family of vampires. They are the descendants of Lilith, who willingly chose to be bitten by the Serpent in the Garden of Eden. Juliette also begins a romantic relationship with Calliope Burns (Imani Lewis). Calliope turns out to be a monster hunter. Elizabeth Mitchell (Lost) starred as Juliette’s mother. Emma Roberts was an executive producer on the show.
Although the show didn’t last long, Henderson said she was happy about Netflix’s support for First Kill. “They licensed the IP, paid for a pilot script, and gave it a healthy production budget,” she told The Daily Beast. “The creative team was very supportive when we were shooting the show under harrowing conditions-before there were ‘vaccines for all’ in Atlanta, a very overcrowded production hub.”
Henderson, a longtime TV veteran who worked on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Gossip Girl, said she was proud of the eight episodes they did make. She also wished audiences were given more time to discover the show before Netflix pulled the plug. At least Netflix isn’t deleting the series from the platform. “The other reason I so enthusiastically signed on to this show is that It has something for everyone-strong women leads, supernatural intrigue, an epic, Shakespearean battle between warring families, and a prominently featured Black family in the genre space, something Black viewers crave and a general audience needs to be treated to,” Henderson said.