Recently, the diversity in the film industry, including within the LGBTQ+ community, has progressed. This increase in representation is visible even as side characters in major shows like “Stranger Things,” or movies like “Do Revenge.” However, the improved inclusivity and representation aren’t the same for all members within the community.
Shows containing women-loving-women (WLW), or sapphic, main characters have been overlooked in T.V. shows and movies, especially by Netflix. This mistreatment is demonstrated throughout Netflix’s cancellations of shows like “I Am Not Okay with This,” “Teenage Bounty Hunters” and “First Kill” after one season each. These cancellations are unjust and discriminatory in nature.
According to Psychology Today, being represented positively in the media can boost feelings of confidence and validation. This becomes increasingly important for LGBTQ+ people, as the Trevor Project notes that the LGBTQ+ community has four times the suicide rate of cisgender, heterosexual individuals. This increased rate in suicide makes the importance of representation in media crucial because it allows for LGBTQ+ people to have a more positive view of themselves and could decrease their chances of suicide.
The most recent display of Netflix’s cold shoulder occurred during the summer of 2022 with their cancellation of “First Kill.” The show features a coming-of-age sapphic love story centered around a vampire hunter and a vampire while focusing on the conflict between their two families.
One might assume that the show was canceled due to a lack of success. However, according to Them Magazine, the show managed to gain over 97 million hours of watchtime, demonstrating that the show had a strong fanbase.
“First Kill” bears many similarities to another hit television series, “The Vampire Diaries.” However, one key difference is that “The Vampire Diaries” was continued for eight seasons and two spin-offs, while “First Kill” was canceled after one.
“First Kill” was well-liked and had a solid fanbase, but it was still canceled regardless. This particular cancellation could have been a fluke; however, Netflix has a history with canceling sapphic shows, which is demonstrated by their cancellations of WLW shows despite their success.
“I Am Not Okay with This” was another incredibly successful WLW show. It managed to hold a spot on Netflix’s top 10 shows list in the United States for two weeks, as noted by FemeStella, and it even had an 86% on Rotten Tomatoes. Despite its successes, Netflix canceled it, stating that it was because of COVID-19, even though other successful shows were just delayed.
Another example, “Teenage Bounty Hunters,” features a leading sapphic relationship, and it too was canceled. Netflix refused to even give a reason for the cancellation, and fans went so far as to petition for another season with no success, according to FemeStella.
Sapphic shows being canceled without valid reasoning has become a predictable and common occurrence. The cancellations are clearly unfair, and while it seems unimportant that Netflix is canceling these shows, being able to see yourself on the screen is universally important. That ability is one that is often taken for granted, and it can be a lifesaver.