An interesting, festive romance
Starring Austin Abrams, Midori Francis, Dante Brown, and Troy Iwata
Based upon David Levithan and Rachel Cohn’s Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares, Netflix provides typical heartwarming fare in an atypical teen love story for the current generation. About two teenagers who meet and fall in love through a notebook, Dash and Lily unexpectedly takes a long time to unite out two leads, allowing both to shine in equal measure. A jaded, curmudgeonly teenager, Dash (Austin Abrams) hates Christmas, as a result of his breakup the previous year, and finds a notebook at the Strand bookstore. It transpires that the notebook has been left by Lily (Midori Francis), an incredibly shy girl who finds it easier to make friends with adults than she does children her own age. She also deeply loves Christmas, and the two set about challenging each other to stretch their respective comfort zones and see the other’s point of view.
While it doesn’t necessarily take a genius to work out that the pair are ultimately going to end up together, Netflix still manages to keep the journey there unexpected, throwing in multiple curve balls and plot twists along the way that makes it trickier to predict just how the pair will accomplish it. With eight episodes that run at only 22-minutes each, it also makes the series incredibly easily digestible.
The conceit of keeping the two characters separated also helps to get away from the snarky, lonely rich boy meets sensitive, quirky girl trope, and the extra runtime in serial format allows for the characters to be more three-dimensional than a film would allow. Both Abrams and Francis play their parts ably and manage to create hidden depths and layers. Lily’s shyness is contextualised through her past experiences, and so too is Dash’s closed off demeanour, and the pair develop and grow throughout the season as they grow closer together. Ultimately, however, there is still that odd sense of “these teenagers are superior because they’re the only teenagers who read”, which is always a ridiculous narrative thread to pull.
Unexpectedly for a Christmas series, Netflix also manages to include a healthy dose of diversity, including references to Lily’s heritage throughout, and also a LGBTQ character and storyline. Ultimately, there’s much to appreciate about Dash & Lily and it will leave you feeling as if you’ve just swallowed a hearty dose of gingerbread hot chocolate – or any festive drink of your choosing.
Dash & Lily is currently streaming on Netflix