A few days after news broke that Netflix had canceled teen drama First Kill, the showrunner for the show has spoken out and has a few choice words for the streaming giant.
The teen drama, which debuted in the second week of June, was given the go-ahead on Tuesday (August 2) when Netflix revealed that there would be no second season of the show. That cancellation was due to some pretty scathing reviews, even though the Netflix series seemed to resonate with audiences.
Based on the short story of the same name by author VE Schwab, First Kill is a reimagining of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Follow Juliette Fairmont, a vampire from a long line of vampires who can live in plain sight in Savannah, Georgia.
Approaching her 16th birthday, Juliette, who has spent her life thus far eating blood pills, finds that the pills are losing their effectiveness and must face the prospect that it’s time to commit her first murder, something she doesn’t want to. to do.
Things are further complicated by the arrival of a new girl in town, Calliope Burns, with whom Juliette quickly falls in love. The problem is that Calliope’s family history is just as complicated as Juliette’s. She is a monster hunter raised by a family of monster hunters. And, as with the star-crossed lovers in Shakespeare’s original, there is a great deal of drama.
The show’s cancellation came as a surprise, as it had racked up pretty decent viewing figures, especially in its first few weeks. First Kill managed to score 30.3 million hours viewed in its first three days and 48.8 million hours viewed in its first full week, numbers that place it behind only Stranger Things and Peaky Blinders.
Now talking to the Daily Beast (opens in a new tab)Felicia D. Henderson, executive producer of First Kill, criticized Netflix, particularly for the show’s lack of marketing.
She said, “The art for the initial marketing was beautiful. I think I was hoping that that would 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.”
Henderson’s comments echo what a source close to the show had previously told The Daily Beast. (opens in a new tab) that the show’s supernatural roots had been downplayed. Instead, all of the marketing focused on the intense love story between the two main characters, a decision they believed prevented it from reaching a wider audience.
The showrunner, who has been on shows like Fringe and Gossip Girl in the past, was quite upbeat about the cancellation, saying, “When I got the call to say they weren’t going to renew the show because the completion rate wasn’t high enough, Of course, I was very disappointed. What showrunner wouldn’t be? They told me a couple of weeks ago that they expected the completion to be higher. I guess it wasn’t.”
Analysis: Is Henderson Right?
Henderson isn’t the only showrunner who feels Netflix execs have moved the poles in terms of the numbers needed to win another season.
Earlier in the year, when Netflix removed The Babysitters’ Club, showrunner Rebecca Shukert sat down with Vulture. (opens in a new tab) to explain what had happened. He said the streaming giant doesn’t just care how many people watch your show, but how they watch it.
At the time, Shukert said, “Completion rates are a big deal. At Netflix, it’s more about whether their show works on the platform than whether the platform works for their show. They want people to watch it a certain way, And I want shows that people watch that way, not shows that people want to watch their way.”
From what Henderson has said, First Kill feels like another victim of that culture. Unless it blows up in its early days on the platform, in the same way a show like The Lincoln Lawyer did, then you may have a hard time getting a renewal.
That may change when it enters Netflix’s ad-supported tier, which is when executives at the streaming giant will have to assess a different kind of audience. But for now, it seems like for a show to really fly, it needs to be very, very binge-worthy.