Unfair & Unequal Standards

Watched the new teen, supernatural drama starring a lesbian couple on Netflix this past weekend. I will be perfectly honest. First Kill is not a good show. It is a campy, teen drama based on a short story by V.E. Schwab with about the same level of quality across story, acting, sets, sound, and most production you would expect from a CW show. In fact, I would totally believe it if someone told me First Kill was a reboot or reimagining or offshoot of The Vampire Diaries universe. So, yeah, the show is not good, but it is not intended to be.

I know that previous statement sounds weird or condescending, but I stand by it, and I think everyone involved in the show knows what kind of show they are in and making. This program is not trying to draft discourse or win awards or be a bastion of quality to bring about a new wave of similar productions. Like every other network in existence, First Kill is simply a cheap soap opera-ish show targeted toward a specific demographic (mainly women from a certain age span) in the same vein as Riverdale, Twilight, The Vampire Diaries, etc. As previously stated, the show will have an audience, but it really is not good.

However, that is not the point of this post nor my interest in this particular program. What did grab my attention was the conversation and discourse around the show, specifically its quality and justification of its own existence. In short, there have been various critiques, some from respected and legitimate sources, that have derided the show for being a simple, sappy, teenage melodrama that adds nothing new to the genre, which yeah that is exactly what it is. I will add a caveat to that description. The show does make alterations to the staple by making the central love story a Sapphic one and having half the main speaking cast be not White.

And, to be fair and honest, it was not entirely surprising that critics of a certain age and demographic would snidely sneer and mock the supernatural teen melodrama. It was not really that different for previously mentioned similar properties. What is different this time around is that a lot of the people and sites that defended those properties in the past from unfair criticisms of quality and worth are now silent or gleefully involved in the disparaging of First Kill. Now, why would people who defended these types of programs now give those same critiques against this one when it is essentially the same? Again, could it have something to do with this show centering a lesbian love story and half the cast being Black? I want to be generous and say no, but considering those are literally the only differences between them, it is difficult to not consider the aspects of personal bias and prejudice that are being influenced in this situation.

Beyond those criticisms, there was a second wave of unfounded barbs when many fans of the show mentioned how significant it was to have this level of representation in a mass market production with this budget and resources. In response, a lot of elder Sapphics argued that lesbian vampires have been a trope for centuries, so how could this show be innovative or new? Ignoring the idiocy of comparing a trope that has almost exclusively been used by, and for, men in grindhouse, exploitative productions across mediums to a modern female created and led series, this all seems to stem from the same issue: their experience, expertise, and wants and whims are not the ones being served by this series. Whether it is Black and women of color being prioritized over White women, lesbians over straight women, or younger queers over elders, the simple fact is that different perspective and desires are being catered to and as the saying goes, “Inconvenience and lack of prioritization seems like oppression to the privileged.”

You do not have to like this show. As I have repeatedly stated, it is not very good. However, there is a vast difference between disliking a genre or type of show and disliking a singe example of said genre or type because of the pivot to focusing the narrative and attention on minorities. One means you have specific tastes while the other just makes you a bigot regardless of how you try to defend yourself.

Just remember that not everything is made for everyone, and that is okay. More so, not everyone has had the same opportunity or experience. For a lot of minority and oppressed groups, the light is barely starting to break. Thus, the annoying, cheesy shows from the late 90s and early 2000s that the majority has moved past are barely becoming accessible for many and are only just starting to see their lives, experience, and looks in those artifacts and examples of media. So, why would anyone want to yuck with their yum when they are barely getting their first taste?

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