Imani Lewis and Sarah Catherine Hook in First Kill. (Photo: Netflix)
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Season 1 | Netflix
Hourlong Thriller (8 episodes) | TV-MA
What's First Kill About?
Things get complicated in a Savannah, Georgia high school when teenage vampire Juliette starts flirting with Calliope, a teenage monster hunter. While they're falling for each other, their families prepare for a fight to the death.
Sarah Catherine Hook (The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It) is Juliette. Although her family is from an especially powerful line of vampires, she's hesitant to fulfill her destiny as a bloodsucker.
Imani Lewis (Hightown) is Calliope. She knows she could be great if everyone in her family of monster hunters would stop treating her like a baby.
Elizabeth Mitchell (Lost) is Juliette's ferocious mother Margot, who strides around in perfect heels and perfect white power suits while plotting the ways she will extend her family's vampiric legacy.
Will Swenson (The Greatest Showman) is Juliette's gentle father Sebastian. He's a vampire, too, and like his daughter, he's deeply conflicted about it.
Gracie Dzienny (Zoo) is Juliette's powerful and confident sister Elinor. She can control people's thoughts, which makes it much easier for her to have her way with mortals.
Aubin Wise (Hamilton on Broadway) is Calliope's badass mother Talia. She's been hunting monsters for years, and will stop at nothing to wipe out the nest of vamps that her daughter has inadvertently discovered.
Celebrated fantasy author V.E. Schwab is a creator, executive producer, and writer on the series. The show is based on one of her short stories.
Felicia D. Henderson, who created the series Soul Food, is the showrunner, as well as a writer and executive producer.
Why (and to whom) do we recommend it?
Alhough much of First Kill will seem familiar to fans of The Craft, Killing Eve, and especially Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the series never feels like a retread. For one thing, Hook and Lewis have such great chemistry in the lead roles that we quickly see how they'd would fall in love, even as they realize they have to destroy each other. For another, the show manages the not-so-simple hat trick of making its characters relatable amid the show's world-shaking stakes (pun intended). To wit, when Tania wakes up Calliope for an early-morning training session Wise conveys her pride and love for her daughter while also selling her intense need to prep her child for battle with the creatures menacing Savannah.
The show's pace is equally entrancing. Details about the hidden world of monsters and monster hunters are doled out between fight scenes with various creatures, so that each time a new battle rolls around, we understand a little bit more about what it means. The writers also find time to infuse scenes between the teenage girls and their friends with charm and great humor, plotting the show in a world where everyone is complicated and every situation resonates in multiple ways. A kiss is also an act of defiance. A family dinner is also a strategy session. A monster is also the girl of your dreams. It's exhilarating to be absorbed by it all.
Pairs well with
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, streaming on Hulu. The legendary series about a young vampire hunter and her cosmically powerful friends is the obvious template for this show.
Killing Eve, streaming on Hulu and AMC+. Just like Juliette and Calliope, the two leads are women locked in mortal combat who also share an intense erotic attraction.
True Blood, Alan Ball's HBO series about vampires who try to integrate into everyday society, with bloody consequences. Streaming on HBO Max.