Holiday music floods the streets, cookies come fresh out of the oven, carolers sing on sidewalks, colorful lights stream across buildings and pine trees and a cynical teenage boy hurriedly passes the Christmas cheer to arrive at his grandest destination—”The Strand,” the only bookstore not forcing holiday joys on every guest walking through their doors.
“Dash & Lily,” a new eight episode holiday Netflix original series based off of “Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares” by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn, revolves around book-loving, “loner” teenage boy, Dash and an old-soul, Christmas-loving, book-loving teenage girl, Lily, who gradually learn about each other by indirectly passing a notebook back-and-forth. The only conditions? One: no sharing last names. Two: no sharing social media. Three: personal questions only earned by completing dares.
Although the first episode begins with a cliché narration by Lily about people, possibilities, love and taking chances, followed by Dash’s stereotypical “I-hate-happiness-during-the-holidays” attitude, the rest of the series makes up for it with the distinctive characterization, interesting cinematic choices, relatable situations, a rollercoaster of emotions and fun holiday music.
Some personal favorite moments showing characters’ personalities include: Dash’s sarcasm, Lily’s brother helping with her love life, Dash talking with the information clerk at the bookstore, Lily decking herself out in Christmas outfits and her uncle coming home from work.
Certain cinematic elements make aspects of the show extra enjoyable to watch. For example, fun angles—like looking down on Dash from the top of a bookshelf, an angled swoop down into lit-up New York, the sharp cuts to a new scene or angle when something contrasts, the parallel between Dash and Lily at the end of episode 2 and the shot of a person’s face through a bookshelf.
Most of the notable, relatable situations correlated with either Dash’s sarcasm or Lily’s hopefulness. A big part about the series so far encases loneliness, which exemplifies itself through family issues, love life limbo and internal conflict regarding socialization—which, arguably, are some of the most relatable situations.
Some critics say “Dash & Lily” is only a bundle of holiday clichés; however, as someone who’s never heard of this story before Netflix, many surprises throughout even the first two episodes breaking the typical holiday trope. The dramatic ups and downs along with the tears and laughter throughout the show leave the audience in great suspense they easily binge watch till the end.
Overall, “Dash & Lily” wins a spot on the holiday “must-watch” list because of it’s addicting nature and the few cliché moments that made an appearance; this show rates 4.5 out of 5 candy canes.