Based on the young adult series Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by David Levithan, Dash & Lily is Netflix’s latest romantic comedy series. A whirlwind holiday romance builds as cynical Dash (Austin Abrams) and optimistic Lily (Midorin Francis) trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations all across New York City.
It is easy to compare Dash & Lily to You’ve Got Mail, which is even referenced within the show itself. Much like the Meg Ryan rom-com, it is about two people who unwittingly fall in love over writing in this notebook. Each episodes opening with an upbeat Christmas song, with scenes of New York during this most festive season. The first two episodes kick off the start of the notebook being exchanged between Dash and Lily, giving us a glimpse into their lives and what brought them to the notebook. Dash picks this mystery red book from a bookstore with the conver ‘do you dare?’, which intrigues him. Lily puts the book there, as a suggestion from her brother in order to get herself out there as she suffers from lonliness days before Christmas as her family decide to travel for the holidays. This simple notebook, with its dares and tricks inside brings these two together, despite only communicating from writing and not even knowing each others names. Through every message and dare, they begin to uncover truths about each other from their first names to their deepest feelings.
There is a strong theme of exploring ‘the person in their head’ versus the reality of their situation. Dash has this idea in his head, similar to the manic pixie dream girl fantasy of this girl being the answer to all his problems, and the fix to his sadness and issues. This idea is not just playing in Dash’s head as he day dreams over the mysterious Lily, but it is a burden for Lily. She is constantly worry about coming agree as ‘weird’, as she was known as the abstract, and ‘different’ girl in school which isolated her from making friends. She is desperate not to mess up, as her feelings grow quickly, and fears she will make a mistake along the way. Of course, there are many hurdles that get in the way of getting the notebook between each other, from anxieties over their relationship to being grounded. Dash and Lily are both uncertain when labelling what us between them, despite not having met they do feel a sense of loyalty as their end game is to meet. This gets shaken up when an old flame enters the narrative for Dash and Lily has connected with a former classmate who is drawn to her.
The finale is something so special, despite the cold December weather, all you can feel this is warmth. This includes the perfect scenes of Christmas in New York, laughter and love in the air. It also includes a festive performance from the Jonas Brothers, which incorporated well into this dreamy atmosphere.
Dash & Lily is the perfect watch for Christmas, something that can be rewatched and enjoyed through the season. It acts as a perfect escapism into the ideal situation for this time of year, a wholesome love story which progresses beautifully through the season. This might remain a mini-series, but we can only hope they renew for a new season, as the follow-up to the book is sitting right there. It would be great to see these characters on screen again, with their sweet chemistry.