WLW-centered shows are getting cancelled despite rave reviews and high ratings
Earlier this summer, Netflix announced that it would be cancelling the show First Kill after one season. This is despite the showing pulling in 97.6 million viewing hours in the Global Top 10 section of Netflix.
One possible explanation for the cancellation is that it didn’t receive an overwhelming critical reception. But, if you look at the audience rating for First Kill on Rotten Tomatoes it averages at 89%. However, if Netflix is now basing what they cancel on critical ratings, I’d love an explanation as to why three Kissing Booth movies were made after the first one only got an average critics score of 15% audience score of 55%.
The cancellation of First Kill highlighted a pattern of cancellations across shows that feature prominent WLW couples and storylines featuring queer women at the centre of the show. I Am Not Okay With This and Everything Sucks! Are more examples of shows with main queer female characters that garnered a large group of fans. However, these two shows faced the same fate as First Kill and ended in cancellation after one season.
For many, Everything Sucks! would have been one of the first shows they had watched where the main character was a lesbian. When it aired, for many it would have felt exciting and affirming to see someone young who represented the lesbian community on a fairly mainstream show on one of the biggest global streaming platforms. So, it was devastating for fans when it was cancelled after one season, especially after season one had left audiences on a massive cliffhanger.
Heartstopper, an adaptation of Alice Oseman’s graphic novel series under the same name, saw renewal for another two seasons earlier this year. Admittedly, it was a very well-deserved renewal: it’s a fantastic show that gives us pure young queer representation and will hopefully impact a lot of young people and help cultivate a better environment for young queer kids to embrace who they are. There is great representation across the show, but the main storyline – at least for season one – focuses on an MLM storyline. This is just one example of the disparity between the perception of queer male characters and queer female characters.
And, while Heartstopper’s well-deserved renewal was indisputable, it makes less sense when you look purely at the numbers. Heartstopper received just over half of what First Kill achieved in terms of viewing hours. So, if Heartstopper can get two more seasons, why is it so hard for First Kill to receive one?
While it is undeniable that Netflix shows with lesbian characters and WLW storylines do exist and have been renewed for multiple seasons, there’s simply not enough. It’s important to have a range of representation in mainstream media because, right now, it feels as though the biggest media with lesbian representation is porn.
The sexualisation of lesbians and lesbian relationships is grotesque and harmful, lesbians are not seen as people but rather as sexual objects. I’ve met men who cannot wrap their head over the fact that they are not desired by a woman, so surely lesbianism must be a sexual performance for them, when in fact, it is furthest from it.
Lesbian relationships are as multifaceted as heterosexual relationships, which is why so many lesbians and queer women are calling out for long-running series that show us the beautiful and romantic aspects of lesbian relationships and offer us dimensional lesbian and queer female characters.