Netflix 'Dash & Lily' Review: Adding a little Christmas cheer to your watch-list
For a teenager, being left alone on Christmas coupled with a devastating breakup is perhaps is a good enough reason to be cynical about the festivities. So, Dash (Austin Abrams) portrayed aimlessly wandering decked up streets of Manhattan, might have you relating to his visible heartbrokenness.
Dash bears the brunt of his parents' failed marriage, so much, that their lack of interest in his life will almost offend you. He wanders into his favourite bookstore to escape into the silence (and also a group of eerie carollers, of course), only to find himself standing face to face with a Christmas challenge -- in the form of a book titled 'Do you dare?'. You will be, at some point, compelled to ask yourself, "how did the boy even notice a flimsy, red notebook stacked next to some of his favourite publications" but I suppose that's where you abandon all forms of logic for your own benefit.
Quite naturally, the odd, poorly maintained book has a series of challenges lined up for him (which in any other time of the year would lead to a sketchy, murder drama -- but in this case, it is cute and Christmasy!). The author of the book? A 17-year-old half-Asian, Lily (Midori Francis), who is typically the opposite of our protagonist.
She will remind you of everything merry. Whether it is the way she dresses or her love for the season, Lily believes in the spirit of Christmas (and miracles) in a surprisingly non-cheesy way. We haven't seen a lot of people pull off Christmas decorations on their sweater, but take it from us -- she pulls it off. Growing up in a conservative Asian household is not new to us, so the idea of Lily spending time with her family on Christmas, every passing year, sounds about right. Despite her eccentric, colourful demeanour, Lily is an introvert who prefers hiding away from the crowd. Shown hanging out with middle-aged, rum-guzzling carollers, Lily's portrayal as someone ahead of her age is aptly established very well in the first episode itself.
However, this year, fate intervenes and sends her family off to a foreign destination for business, leaving her home-alone with gay older brother Langston (Troy Iwata). Langston, perhaps one of the most impressionable character in the series, decides to help his introverted sister out by asking her to leave mysterious clues for a stranger in a book. Not very elder-brotherly, Langston, but we're ready to give it a pass.
Dash, who finds himself in awe of the girl's cynicism and sarcastic treasure hunt, decides to leave a challenge for her in return. With the help of his friend, Boomer (Dante Brown), who works at a pizza place, he sets up a quest to discover her identity. Well, she does get caught but swears Boomer to secrecy, making him an accomplice in all her future challenges for Dash.
Dash & Lily, haunted by their familial insecurities and failed relationships, find ways to uplift each other with various dares. Dash's attempt to send Lily to an underground Jewish punk-band concert, somehow releases her from the tightly bound uncertainties that she has carried with her since her childhood. Lily sends Dash to a gaudily lit neighbourhood where he finds a way to 'believe' in the spirit of Christmas.
However, the confusion in the series never seems to cease -- and you're bound to find yourself pining for the duo's path to coincide. When Dash's charming and affable ex-flame Sofia (Keana Marie), returns for good, he has to make a tough decision of combating his feelings for her -- as a teenager should! Lily, interestingly, shows a more positive character development after she confronts her once-crush and bully, Edgar Thibaud (Glenn McCuen) and tells him off at a slam poetry event.
By the time the series reaches its culmination point, you already know how it's going to end. Nonetheless, it isn't before a string of (read: frustrating!) miscommunications and random fallouts that the two find their way to each other.
Yes, Dash & Lily is your typical and mawkish Christmas drama. But the season calls for it! The series, sprinkled with faith and festive miracles, doesn't have a single dull moment. Unlike your regular Hallmark boy-meets-girl movies, Dash & Lily take their own, sweet time to meet. Set in the backdrop of New York City, it will remind you of the Christmases from the past, and you're almost left wistful by the end, knowing how the festivities have changed this year.
The series has several strong characters, and the show has done immense justice to their development. For one, we're fans of Midori Francis and her growth as the female protagonist. Austin Abrams, with his wiseness, portrays himself as an old-soul, and seventeen-year-old versions of us would've been gushing about him!
It is also refreshing to see a sassy brown girl, Priya (Agneeta Thacker), who we wish would teach us some snarkiness! Some loose ends in the series definitely pave the way for questions, and you're left wondering as to how the duo knew that many people across the city who they could safely hand over a book to? In the age of the internet, there's barely any scope to develop a sitcom based on some old-fashioned soul-searching through a big city.
Perhaps, despite the apparent disconnection in its plot, there are moments where Dash & Lily will make you smile. Whether it is the spirit of holidays that conditions us to fall for sappy sitcoms or the idea of being in New York for Christmas, we can't exactly justify what got us rooting for the couple. However, we can certainly vouch for one thing: If the year has been too harsh on you, Dash & Lily will make sure to warm your frigid heart. Long story short? Our advice is to curl up (with ample time on your hands) and sip on some frothy hot chocolate to enjoy this cutesy, festive sitcom on Netflix.
TBC Rating: 3/5
Where to watch: Netflix