While First Kill season 1 had some issues of its own to deal with, the Netflix hit has already managed to steer clear of a major problem that plagued The Vampire Diaries. The Vampire Diaries was a massive hit upon its debut in 2007, with the CW series lasting an impressive seven seasons and spawning two spin-offs. The latter of these spin-offs, Legacies, ended its run after season 4, just in time for Netflix’s First Kill to replace the franchise in the hearts of fans.
First Kill has already managed to avoid one issue that The Vampire Diaries and its competitors always struggled to solve. Based on Victoria Schwab’s short story of the same name, First Kill sees two star-crossed lovers fall for one another. The only problem is that one hails from a family of vampire slayers, while the other is the latest in a long lineage of vampires. First Kill season 1 is simultaneously dramatic, tragic, scary, and sexy, borrowing from the likes of The Vampire Diaries while changing one vital detail.
Since First Kill season 1 is based on Schwab’s standalone story, even the most die-hard fans of the source material have no idea where its story is heading. In contrast, The Vampire Diaries—much like its cinematic competitor Twilight and the R-rated alternative True Blood—was adapted to the screen after entire novels in the source series had been released. This left the series in the unenviable position of needing to surprise fans who were already familiar with the books while still faithfully adapting the existing stories.
True Blood’s more mature demographic—and the fact that there were so many novels in The Southern Vampire Mysteries series it was based on—meant that the show was always bound to diverge from them somewhat. In contrast, it was similarly easy for the Twilight franchise to appease fans of the source novels since the young fanbase and the truncated runtimes of movie adaptations meant few viewers expected surprises, major divergences from the source material, or an adaptation that found time for the Cullen family’s complicated backstories. The Vampire Diaries, however, was stuck with a target audience who wanted both surprises and faithfulness to the source material at the same time, leaving the creators in a double bind.
Where The Vampire Diaries needed to keep book fans satisfied with the show’s accuracy while also changing enough to keep them invested, First Kill can surprise all of its viewers in season 2. Reading the original Schwab story won’t give fans much insight into where the Netflix hit’s story is heading, meaning the plot can progress without constantly ensuring that it stays faithful to the source material. As a result, First Kill can be a more authentically surprising and original supernatural love story than The Vampire Diaries, which was never able to fully shake off the expectations that came with its literary origins.
More: First Kill Brings Back The Vampire Diaries Best Screenwriting Trick