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Lesbian vampires have been a well loved concept for over 150 years – notably thanks to the novella Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu in 1872.

There have been numerous interpretations and understandings of these creatures of the night. In 2022, Netflix’s First Kill takes a new spin on the image of the ‘lesbian vampire’ transforming her from a predatorial monster to a nervous and shy high schooler.

First Kill follows the love story of a young vampire, Juliet, and a vampire hunter, Calliope (Cal), as they attempt to make their first kills: each other! The show is a cheesy and over-the-top-teen drama – a genre vastly underrepresented among TV shows with lesbian protagonists. I binged watched it in two days and have yet to meet anyone who has not found this show entertaining.

On the surface, First Kill could just be mislabelled as another easily bingeable show, but it also offers vital representation that is missing from a lot of mainstream media. First Kill is unique in that it’s a lesbian story not centred around ‘coming out’ and homophobia.

While both girls have a conversation about when they first ‘realised’, it is not in any way central to the narrative. It’s an important reminder that life doesn’t begin or end the moment you decide to tell people your identity.

Cal, the vampire slayer, also brings Black lesbian representation which is so often missed in mainstream TV shows and films. She and her family are tight-knit, funny, and fiercely protective of each other. They offer some of the most emotional scenes throughout the show, and despite the fantastical element of their lives, it’s not difficult to relate to their frustrations with each other, their sibling rivalries and deep desire to do what is best for the whole family, and humanity.

One of my favourite aspects of the show – other than the women themselves – was their families grappling with their wayward daughters. While the show can be a little on-the-nose with its Romeo and Juliet references, the way it presents this dynamic is honestly gripping.

Juliet’s sister, Elinor, is a brilliant character. She struggles with familial expectations, but is also cold hearted towards humans and willing to do whatever it takes to succeed. She is reminiscent of what we expect to see from traditional vampires: unapologetically bloodthirsty and ruthless.

She is the perfect contrast to Juliet who can’t bring herself to harm a bee, never mind feed from a human being. Their dynamic as sisters is incredibly engaging to watch, but Elinor’s side-story is also incredibly gripping, and I found myself watching the next episode just to find out more.

When I heard that First Kill wouldn’t return for a second season, I was disappointed, but not sadly not surprised. In order for a film or TV show about lesbians to be palatable and considered worthy by the mainstream, it typically has to be either historical or sad – or both.

Lesbians are rarely able to simply be out and happy, else risk cancellation after one season, (or, if you’re lucky, two). Shows with similar tones and similarly eccentric story lines such as Riverdale, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Once Upon a Time were granted numerous seasons, leaving the question as to why wasn’t First Kill good enough to be renewed? While those shows have lesbian representation, the protagonists were still straight, so this was something new that First Kill was able to deliver.

First Kill was one of my favourite shows this year – it offered something new and critical to lesbian representation in TV shows. This expectation that stories about lesbians always need to be serious, gut-wrenching works of art means that often we miss out on the kind of stories that you can just relish after a long day at work, school or university.

We need more lesbian shows that are undeniably entertaining, thrilling and offer an escape from real-world stress. While First Kill will not have a second season, I hope that this is not the end of lesbian TV representation where characters’ story arcs don’t rely on coming out struggles or tragedy. And I really hope that the ‘lesbian vampire’ will be able to return to our screens in all her glory sometime soon.

Niamh volunteers with Just Like Us, the LGBT+ young people’s charity. They need LGBT+ volunteers aged 18-25 – sign up now to get involved.