The holiday season is in full swing as evidenced by the truckload of Christmas-themed films already unleashed upon us. One such example is Netflix’s newest limited series Dash & Lily, which spans eight episodes at almost 25 minutes each. So why should you set aside your precious time to binge this mini-series, you ask?
It’s based on a YA novel
Rachel Cohn and David Levithan co-wrote the novel Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares in 2010. It’s the pair’s third collaboration novel after working on the 2006 Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist (which has a movie adaptation starring Michael Cera and Kat Dennings) and the 2007 Naomi & Ely’s No Kiss List (also has a movie adaptation starring Victoria Justice, Pierson Fode, and Matthew Daddario). See the amusing pattern of the titles there?
Netflix’s version of Dash & Lily has quite a number of differences from the books – some of them major – but since it’s exceptionally written, they’re easily forgivable. It tells the story of two strangers writing wholesome and adventurous dares on a red notebook which they pass back and forth by hiding it all over New York. Both soon discover that they’re as opposite as people can be — but maybe that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
Meet cynical Dash
Enter Dash, our brooding and snarky male protagonist with a personal hatred for the holidays. He is played by Austin Abrams (Euphoria, Chemical Hearts) who undeniably gives off strong Timothee Chalamet vibes. Dash is prepared to have the Gloomiest Holiday Ever in New York City, where his divorced parents think he’s staying with the other parent.
In between his boring days sulking around in his dad’s bachelor pad drinking brandy in his silk robe (Really? He’s supposed to be a teenager?) and watching noir films, he visits the local bookstore The Strand. That’s where he stumbles on a red notebook tucked beside J.D. Salinger’s Franny and Zooey, effectively catapulting him on a path to a better holiday and meeting the love of his life.
Meet whimsical Lily
On the other end of the spectrum, there’s Lily. The colorful, eccentric, and whimsical 17-year-old girl who believes Christmas is the best time of the year. Except her Christmas that year is tainted thanks to her parents jetting off to Fiji, breaking their family’s tradition of spending the holidays together.
With nothing better to do, her brother, Langston, suggests she go out and have some fun meeting someone new that is not an adult. And here we learn that Lily doesn’t have friends her age, preferring the company of adults who get her better. We gotta hand it to Midori Francis (Ocean’s 8, Younger) though, she did a great job being an underage teenager given that she’s actually 26 years old IRL.
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Ah, the romcom trope that we can never escape. While Dash broods all over the city in his emo peacoat, Lily runs around wearing hand-decorated Christmas tinsel sweaters and singing with a street choir group. But thankfully, Netflix manages to go beyond and take us deeper into the minds of its characters.
Dash and Lily manage to spark a romance and bring each other out of their shells despite never meeting. They pour their heart out on the red notebook and make each other do dares that set them outside of their comfort zones. Once, Lily persuades Dash to take a mochi-making class since she noticed how much of an over-thinker he is – “Listen to your mochi.” For her dare, Dash makes the sheltered Lily attend a 2 am underground Jew punk show where she learns to let loose through her funky dance moves. And when she wants to go home (because socializing is scary!), he leaves her a note on the bathroom mirror that gives her enough courage to “get back out there.” Cute.
Featuring the beauty of New York
Aside from having a compelling and kilig story, Dash & Lily also show off the magic of New York City during the holidays. It’s beautifully decked with Christmas lights and charged with a certain kind of energy in the air. Of course, everything is pre-coronavirus which makes us miss the good ‘ol days even more.
You could almost create a Dash & Lily itinerary with all the places the pair visited. Begin at The Strand Bookstore, where it all started, and then head on to Union Square Holiday Market and Washington Square Park. You can also visit McSorley’s Old Ale House for booze, Two Boots Pizza (Boomer’s not there though), Dyker Heights and its holiday decorations, and more. End your New York tour by shopping at Macy’s Herald Square and people watching at Grand Central Terminal.
On the heartaches and the lessons
Dash and Lily’s red notebook becomes traditional Tinder. Mixed with emotional (or emotionally constipated) teenagers, the characters sometimes feel like they’ve bitten off way more than they can chew. Just like actual Tinder, the strangers involved toe the dangerous line of developing ideas about someone they haven’t met. Sophia, Dash’s unbelievably understanding ex-girlfriend, carefully reminds him to not put Lily on a pedestal — “When you put girls on pedestals, they fall.” Feelings get hurt, people are misunderstood, and personal obstacles need to be hurdled but in the end, Dash and Lily decide that what they have is worth pursuing.
BRB, will look for the LOML in a bookstore
Now I know bookworms just swoon at the idea of meeting a well-read beautiful brooding boy in a bookstore (alliteration not intended). Dash swooped in and stole our hearts with his thick, wavy hair and his knowledge of books. And wouldn’t you like to be in a relationship with someone like Lily who always looks up to find the rainbow despite the storm? After the pandemic is over, I just might leave a small red notebook between the books of a random Book Sale branch.
So will there be a Season 2?
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While the eight episodes gave us a concrete ending and didn’t leave us hanging just like Emily in Paris, we still want more. Cohn and Levithan actually wrote a sequel to the novel (entitled Twelve Days of Dash & Lily), so we’re keeping our fingers crossed Netflix turns it into another holiday kilig binge. As for the actors, Abrams did say via an interview with US Magazine that there are talks of a second season. He also mentioned that Netflix “[looks] at numbers before they decide to jump on a renewal” which is code for “Stream the series, people.” And if you haven’t yet, what are you waiting for?
Have you watched Dash & Lily on Netflix? Stream it here.