Have you ever thought: I love Romeo and Juliet but it would be so much better if it was gay and had vampires? If yes, then this show is your answer.
First Kill is a show that is unabashedly made for people who enjoy campy, supernatural, teen romances, and the experience is best enjoyed that way. We don’t need every piece of media we consume to be a bastion of greatness. Sometimes, an unsubtly over-the-top queer romance does the trick.
Speaking of subtle, the show is the furthest from it. But more on that later.
The plot revolves around two (seemingly normal) teenagers, Juliette and Calliope, who meet, act awkward around each other (like seemingly normal teenagers do), and fall in love (again, like normal teenagers). Except of course, nothing about their situation fits the definition of “normal”. Juliette is a vampire, the youngest daughter in an elite Legacy family of vampires, and Calliope and her family belong to a Guild responsible for hunting them and other monsters.
Juliette and Calliope, despite the hatred and opposition of their families towards their relationship, fall in love, and struggle to stay together against all odds.
The show asks the question: do you choose love or legacy (pun definitely intended)? Sometimes it’s one over the other, sometimes it’s a choice to protect both in whatever capacity they can, and occasionally, it’s neither – the season ends on a cliff-hanger with both families breaking apart and Juliette and Calliope ending their relationship on rocky terms, to say the least without giving too many spoilers about the end.
There were many not-so-understated instances in the series that led me to calling it campy, if there’s one thing First Kill is not, is subtle in its intention and depiction. I knew it from the instant Slumber Party by Ashnikko played while Juliette and Calliope eyed each other across the room. (Most of) The vampires are very vampire-y vampires, and (most of) the hunters are hunter-y hunters, they make that very clear. But more than that, they are also people (pardon the irony) when it counts the most.
Take away the destined enemies and the supernatural aspects, and First Kill would still have some mettle as a queer romance between two young girls who have to fight to maintain their relationship with one another. But the show decidedly does not take away their respective identities as vampire and hunter, in their relationship, and that for me was one of the reasons I enjoyed it the most.
While the lesbian-vampire trope has existed for quite a while, leading to some critics of the show calling it an exhausted take, I personally loved that they went beyond queer coding or queer baiting the characters and gave us a full-fledged queer relationship.
It is still a forbidden romance, but not for the reasons depicted in other queer media.
More importantly, them being gay was not the focal point of the tensions. None of the families were homophobic – not the elitist, matriarchal vampires, not the machismo-oriented hunters, not even the Karen-archetype that was Bunny. Nobody had a problem with them being gay, it was never brought up as a point of contestation, and to someone who lives in a world that is still largely governed by heteronormative ideas, it was refreshing to see.
Maybe it wasn’t the most original of takes on the forbidden vampire-human romance, but it was an audaciously queer one, and as often as I cringed at the camp, I enjoyed it immensely. I look forward to another season, to see how they take this plot forward, and engage in more queer, melodramatic, supernatural antics.
Rating: 4.25 out of 5
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