Anchor Staff Writer
Though we’re still in November, Netflix has already been pulling stops on churning out content for the holiday season. Dash & Lily, a bright and sweet Christmas rom-com based on the book Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by David Leviathan and Rachel Cohn, is one of the latest.
The series focuses on two teenagers living in New York City who both find themselves alone for the holiday season. Lily (Midori Francis), a cheerful optimist who dreams of having a whirlwind holiday romance, and snarky and pretentious Dash (Austin Abrams) begin trading dares, sharing favorite spots in the city and learning about one another through an appropriately bright red notebook. Though they seem at the start to be opposites, Lily, a fervent believer in The Magic of Christmas™ and Dash, a cynic who declares it “the most detestable time of the year,” they find they have more in common than they appear to and begin to develop feelings for one another, all while not meeting in person.
The cast is rounded out by Boomer (Dante Brown,) Dash’s best friend who is definitely too good for him, Langston (Troy Iwata,) Lily’s outgoing and adventurous older brother and Sofia (Keana Marie,) Dash’s ex-girlfriend who refreshingly does not fall into the vengeful or vapid mean girl trope.
The series has its fair share of cliches and questionable tropes, from a pristine, sparkling New York during the holidays to the idea that reading books for pleasure makes individuals pariahs, doomed to be forever misunderstood by their peers. Lily’s so-called “weirdness” and inability to make friends her own age especially warrants an eye-roll at times. Still, these issues are par for the course for the genre, are easy enough to put aside and are furthermore grounded in Francis’ and Abrams’ excellent performances.
The sugary sweetness of the show avoids becoming saccharine with just the right dose of wit and self-awareness. Its greatest gift, however, is truly embodying the joy and warmth of a holiday feature one wants to return to the next year. It also may resonate especially right now, as both protagonists contend with the disappointment of finding themselves without their family for the holidays, a reality many of us are facing due to COVID-19, and Dash and Lily themselves spend most of the series not having met in person. Dash & Lily is ultimately a fun romp that hits on all the right feel-good holiday notes and provides some much needed escapism from our present reality.