Netflix’s ‘Dash and Lily’ Makes Christmas Daring
Story: Penny Rae Hawkins
He was a boy. She was a girl. Neither knew a chance encounter with a notebook would change each other’s lives forever.
Based on the book Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, Dash and Lily is one of the latest gems to come from Netflix Originals. The series follows a pedantic and pessimistic boy named Dash (played by Austin Abrams) as he follows dares from the inexperienced and idealistic Lily (played by Midori Francis) across New York City. Dash and Lily themselves are, naturally, the highlights of the series. While Abrams totally could have played the cynical, snarky Dash as cliche, he has clear motivations and a sense of humor that is more often charming than contrived.
Similarly, Francis is delightfully dorky as LIly, who is a walking deconstruction of the ‘weird girl’ trope. While she does express to her brother Langston that she hangs out with adults because they “read real books,” it’s never implied that it makes her superior to other girls her age. In fact, it mostly just goes to show how out of step she is with other kids her age and how hard it is for her to make friends as a result. Therefore, there is actual growth shown when Dash’s dares take her out of her comfort zone. The same can be said for the way Lily’s dares affect Dash, which makes their “opposites attract” chemistry uniquely charming.
“The person in your head” is another prominent character that threads the entire story together. Throughout the entire series, friends and family alike warn both protagonists to be careful comparing the idea of each other to their preconceived ideals of the perfect partner. This makes for an interesting tension between Dash and Lily when they actually meet, having already become somewhat acquainted through the notebook.
The only downside of the series is the twee and often on-the-nose writing, something that typically comes with adaptations of Cohn and Levithan’s work (Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List). While more often endearing than not, it does have its limits and moments of being way too obvious. That being said, the show’s pacing and direction finds enough time to develop the characters and their relationships while making time for subtle references to loyal fans of the source material.
Netflix’s Dash and Lily is a faithful adaptation of Cohn and Levithan’s beloved novel in spirit, if not always in plot. Even if you haven’t read the book, this is the perfect bite-sized series to round out your holiday watchlist.