‘First Kill’ Showrunner Felicia D. Henderson Talks Cancellation, Passionate Fans, And Future Projects

Felicia D. Henderson, First Kill showrunner

First Kill showrunner Felica D. Henderson is proud the show has positively impacted fans in its short first season.

The series about a forbidden romance between a vampire and a vampire hunter was recently cancelled by Netflix, despite the series being in the Netflix Top 10 for three weeks in a row and was massively popular with viewers due to it having a same-sex relationship at its core. I interviewed Henderson for Shadow and Act regarding the show’s debut, so I felt it would make sense to interview her after the news of its cancellation. She described several emotions, including devastation at the show’s demise, but she also said she feels the show did what she wanted to accomplish, which is reach viewers who needed representation they never fully received from Hollywood.

“Of course I’m disappointed, of course I’m sad. Of course I’m a little angry, of course I’m surprised–like [I feel] all the bad things,” she said. “[But] in terms of the fans, it’s amazing…their passion…it tells you you did something that people care so much [about] and that you touched some people. Now I’m starting to get messages from people saying, ‘You saved my life’…So those things are very gratifying. And in that way, we did what we came to do. We just did not get to complete what we came to do.”

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(L to R) Sarah Catherine Hook as Juliette, Imani Lewis as Calliope in First Kill. (Photo credit: Brian Douglas/Netflix)
(L to R) Sarah Catherine Hook as Juliette, Imani Lewis as Calliope in First Kill. (Photo credit: Brian Douglas/Netflix)

She also talked about one of the factors that was mentioned in the media about Netflix’s reason for offing First Kill–something called a “completion rate,” which is how Netflix’s algorithm factors in binging hours. In Henderson’s words, Netflix measures to see how quickly a show is binged to completion in its first 30 days. What Henderson said she heard from fans was that they were, indeed, watching the series; they just weren’t binging it because they wanted to savor it. That means the algorithm doesn’t factor in all the different ways fans enjoy content, making its metrics about a show’s success skewed.

“[T]here are all kinds of ways to measure success and if a show is growing,” she said. “I’ve had lots of people tell me since hearing of the cancellation, ‘I’m still watching, [but] I’m not a person who binges. If I enjoy something, I don’t binge it because I want to sort of savor it and I might watch one or two episodes at a time, maybe once a week because I like it and I’m taking it in.'”

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“…I think about how I watch television and how success is measured and in a world where everything is ‘Watch it right now; if you don’t watch it right now, then we have to assume that people aren’t gonna watch it.’ And that’s very unfortunate,” she continued.

Click the video below to hear more of our conversation about the dangers of metrics measuring success, other positive fan reactions, and Henderson’s future projects.

Sites/articles mentioned in the interview:

‘First Kill’ Showrunner on Cancellation: Netflix Failed to Market Series

Netflix’s ‘First Kill’ Stakes Its Claim on Most In-Demand New Shows List | Chart

Netflix Top 10

Annenberg Inclusion Initiative releases study of representation in Netflix original productions

‘First Kill’ Cancellation Sparks Fan Petition to Save Netflix Series

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