Courtesy of Netflix

Netflix has been on a roll recently, having numerous Christmas films and shows lined up well before Thanksgiving. As audiences are on the hunt to discover a new series to binge to put them in the holiday spirit, Netflix’s new show “Dash and Lily” is a gem among many with its powerful storytelling and delightful characters. 

“Dash and Lily,” based on the book by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn, follows two opposite teenagers with different attitudes towards the holiday season. To escape the Christmas ambiance, Dash (Austin Abrams) visits a bookstore and discovers a red notebook placed by Lily (Midori Francis), our mysterious writer, filled with dares that intrigue him. The two become absorbed in this game and communicate by daring and opening up to each other through the notebook, which is exchanged throughout New York. 

At the surface, “Dash and Lily” may seem like a cheesy rom-com, but it has excellent storytelling. The show has eight short episodes that can be easily watched in one sitting. The first episode introduces us to Dash’s introverted personality and loathing of Christmas, while the second focuses on Lily and the start of her lonely holiday season. They soon showcase both characters as their stories are intertwined by the notebook. Although Dash and Lily aren’t in the same scenes in some episodes, their voice-overs of the notebook entries make them ever present. In addition, the short episodes perfectly manage to relay the plot without seeming too fast or slow. The relationship between Dash and Lily is effectively developed as they learn more about each other through the notebook, and dramatic elements are explored when they encounter challenges in their “long distance” relationship. 

“Dash and Lily” really nails Christmas time in New York with bright lights, Christmas trees, skating at the Rockefeller center and Christmas shops. Christmastime is captured at every turn, such as Lily’s house, a Macy’s with excessive Christmas decorations and a subway with several Santas. Most settings, such as the bookstore and a pizza parlor, have festive fairy lights and garlands that establish the holiday spirit. Moreover, the soundtrack includes numerous holiday songs, including a cameo from the Jonas Brothers performing “Like it’s Christmas.” 

Abrams and Francis exemplify exceptional acting and play characters that have depth. Abrams portrays a socially awkward and picky teenager who just wants to be left alone from any and all human interaction. He is pensive and wears dark clothing, clearly making a statement he would rather be lost in a bookstore. Francis captures Lily’s jolly, exuberant spirit and delivers her lines with great enthusiasm. The audience feels sympathetic for Lily, as Francis does well at depicting Lily’s struggles as an outcast with an optimistic nature. The show fuses introverts and extroverts with the notebook that becomes an escape to another realm as Dash and Lily unfold the next chapter of their lives. Moreover, the show impressively introduces multiple characters, such as Lily’s strict grandpa (James Saito), her easygoing brother (Troy Iwata) and Dash’s friend (Dante Brown) with ideal screen time that shows their respective issues. This also works in creating a family-like atmosphere, as the cast works well with each other throughout the show.  

In alignment with remarkable acting, “Dash and Lily” connects to the audience as we relate to them. In a relatable way, Dash and Lily become self-conscious for not fitting in or think they know themselves best without having made meaningful experiences. However, Dash and Lily’s character development in escaping their comfort zones transforms them. Dash transitions from an unhappy teenager to enjoying the present, while Lily embraces her personality and speaks up for herself. Thus, the characters portray who we may be by breaking free of limitations and challenging ourselves. 

The audience receives a bit of mystery and adventure as the show’s genres alternate between coming of age and drama. As Dash and Lily are eager to meet each other, it conveys the message of embracing each other’s unique personality that brings them together. Overall, it inspires the audience to abandon judgements and to seek discomfort. 

Ultimately, “Dash and Lily” is the perfect holiday watch, as it engulfs the holiday spirit and utilizes a great plot with smoothly integrated themes. The show can be easily binged and the cheesy yet heartwarming themes make it engaging. It is more than a rom-com, as the audience connects with the characters and is inspired to get out there and try new things.

Verdict: The charming performances in “Dash and Lily” and remarkable plot with exceptionally developed themes make it a show you just can’t stop watching. The great storytelling and relatable characters immerse the audience in a lighthearted watch.