Midori Francis in Dash & Lily, Netflix.
After thousands of cheap and cheesy attempts at a new generation of Christmas films including, yet not limited to, The Christmas Chronicles, The Princess Switch and many more, which all took on an unfortunate resemblance to Hallmark films, Netflix has decided to change their strategy this season by introducing a new Christmas series, Dash & Lily.
Based on Rachel Cohn and David Levithan’s novel Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares, the show follows two sides of a romantic comedy; it features the “opposites attract” outlook between cynical Dash and jaunty Lily, highlighting the visible divide between the types of attitudes found not only on Christmas Day but in relationships and how experiences and loss can affect one’s perspective and spirit.
The series features Austin Abrams who carries an aspiring Chalamet type of charm and Midori Francis, whose smile radiates through the screen. Together they make a good duo. However, whether their chemistry is better in writing compared to on-screen is open to debate.
For the majority of the series, Lily and Dash’s romance mirrors an inferior You’ve got Mail type of quality where two characters trade dares, aspirations and feelings within a notebook, without actually ever meeting each other in person until the last minute.
The atmospheric setting of Christmas time in New York, arguably cliche and tedious, surprisingly works and even contributes to the feel-good ambience the series effortlessly generates throughout with strikingly vivid clothing, twinkling lights and unobtrusive decorations.
Thankfully, the festivities are not delivered in an overbearing form and provide the right amount of sugary doses of spirit to allow anyone to watch it. Whether you’re more of a Grinch or a Cindy Lou.
The series begins with an alternating focus on Dash’s perspective, later followed by Lily’s. It’s a compelling way to express a story and make the audience meander through different interpretations of events.
Though Dash and Lily’s conflicting perspectives are portrayed distinctly from the very start, I found their representations too obvious and lacking in depth. If I were to describe the characters after watching the first few episodes, it would be an impossible task without continuously repeating the word Christmas itself as their characters seemed to be defined by their attitudes towards the holiday.
This said, the writers did manage to rectify the lacking complexion in identities by practically hurling character development at the audience and never letting an opportunity to accentuate personal growth slip away. In other series, this can feel both nauseating and aggravating yet for Dash & Lily it simply contributes an endearing tone to the plot.
As the show proceeds, we also get glimpses into who the characters are and why they act the way they do. Dash’s cynical attitude is identified through sarcastic cracks and subtle satire that not only emphasises his charisma further but also acts as a defence mechanism; when it comes down to it, he’s a teenage boy who’s simply trying not to get hurt. Similarly, Lily’s childlike naiveness, which asserts her bright outlook on life, cloaks her fears and insecurities and, in doing so, a more rational complexion is established.
The series provides festive bliss and serves as a model for other series to come. Alongside the growing relationship Lily develops with Dash, the audience is also introduced and enlightened to her American-Japanese traditions and her strong relationship with her openly gay brother Langston (Troy Iwata), who contributes to the romantic comedy genre as he’s also in pursuit of love.
The series displays notions of family and relationships so effortlessly, whilst developing a quality of inclusion, granting anyone and everyone, to not only watch and enjoy the show but also feel a part of it, too.
Although having 17-year-olds run around New York aimlessly and communicate through pieces of paper in a densely populated city may not be the most pragmatic scenario, Dash & Lily simply offers a whimsical distraction from life.
And even though it can be argued that it’s not as intellectually stimulating or thought-provoking as some of the other new series Netflix has to offer, its escapism overflows any viewer with a sense of warmth and light-heartedness.
Therefore, I would definitely recommend Dash & Lily for an amusing and pleasurable distraction. And if that doesn’t appeal to you, then perhaps the subtly catchy soundtrack alongside a Jonas Brothers cameo appearance in the season finale will.