Dash and Lily: Netflix’s Early Christmas Present

Image Courtesy of Netflix

By Laura O'Callaghan

What better way was there to get through the gloomy November lockdown than to watch a slightly cheesy, easily predictable Christmas rom-com? Adapted from David Levithan and Rachel Cohn’s book, Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares, the series has proved to be a holiday favourite with viewers already.

The story focuses on the titular characters, Dash and Lily. Dash (Austin Abrams) is a cynical, Christmas hating teenage boy who is in New York alone after having tricked his divorced parents by saying he is staying with the other parent. During a trip to a bookstore, he discovers a mysterious red notebook with the words written ‘Do you dare’ on the front cover. How could anyone just pass up that opportunity?

The owner of the red notebook is Lily (Midori Francis), a loner who only hangs out with people double her age. This year, she is struggling with the holidays that usually bring so much joy to her, and only has her carol singing group and her brother Langston (Troy Iwata) to keep her company.

The series follows Dash and Lily each completing one another’s dares as they travel across New York getting to know each other through the pages of the notebook. Of course, as it is New York, Christmas is as much of a character than the protagonists themselves, presented as bigger and better in this vibrant series, giving colour to the grey November we have all found ourselves in.

The story blossoms as an eight-part series, giving us enough time with the characters as well as getting to explore this side of New York at Christmas. As each episode is 20-minutes long, it is easy to binge-watch, especially as the story progresses and you just beg for Dash and Lily to finally meet in person.

It’s important not to forget the side characters. The diverse array of casting choices not only adds to the story but also to the magic. Lily’s brother Langston is the instigator of the notebook, often he and his boyfriend Benny pushing Lily past her limits and out of her comfort zone which propels Lily’s character in the narrative.

Benny and Langston’s relationship is adorable and hilarious; how many times do people have to walk in on them doing it before Langston puts a lock on that door? Langston’s relationship with his sister is so pure and honest, one minute they love each other, the next they fight. Francis and Iwata present their characters organically and you almost forget that they are not actually brother and sister.

Boomer (Dante Brown) is a ray of light in Dash’s drab and dull world. His energy bursts from the screen as he tries to add some happiness to the cynical Dash. His loyalty to his friend is endearing as we feel that he truly just wants his friend to be happy. He helps Dash with the dares and wants to protect him when he sees him making the wrong decisions. We all want a friend like Boomer. Plus he is a fan of the Jonas Brothers, need I say more?

Speaking of the Jonas Brothers, I forgot to mention that they star! Produced by Nick Jonas, he gives us a bonus present under the Christmas tree with a Jonas Brothers performance on the series. It is that little extra sprinkle of Christmas cheer added to an already amazing cake. He has a little cameo in a scene that is a firm favourite of mine – you’ll have to wait until the last episode though I’m afraid.

This series is Netflix’s early Christmas present to us all and a welcomed escape from the times we find ourselves in. It’s a bit of fun and something that does not take itself too seriously which is what we need right now. If you want to get engrossed in the romance of new love and excitement of Christmas, I highly recommend giving it a watch.

Dash and Lily is available to stream on Netflix.

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