cover art by @girdyliciousart on Instagram
by Alena Nguyen
Christmastime – a month-long event where the world is decked in hues of red, green and white lights, holiday music on the radio, snuggled up by fires with hot cocoa and especially those cliché Hallmark cookie-cutter movies. When it comes to holiday love, life ignores all laws of the universe and everything happens to be a coincidence.
‘Dash & Lily’ on Netflix is all that and more.
This novel-to-series adaptation follows the budding pen pal relationship between Dash and Lily, who live completely opposite worlds in the metropolis that is New York. Dash (played by Austin Abrams) is a surly, blonde Kyle Scheible with the personality and perspective on Christmas of Scrooge who finds home in The Strand, a local bookstore. After finding a red notebook within the shelves of “The Strand”, Dash goes on a wild goose chase around New York to find his newfound pen pal and confidant who later reveals herself to be Lily (Midori Francis). Lily, on the other hand, is truly “not like other girls”. She has a heart as big as her multiethnic family reunions at Christmastime (very large!) She has the bright, bubbly personality of Andi Mack with bookish interests that has resulted in her not having many friends throughout her school life. From stealing Santa’s hat in a Macy’s retail store to dancing at an underground Jewish punk concert, Dash and Lily make each other do a set of dares around New York to break each other out of their reclusive shells and explore all that the city has to offer.
The show definitely captured the Christmas romance essence of how everything that happens is coincidental and/or by pure luck. The liveliness and purity of the world easily disguised the fact that in real life, none of these things would actually happen. But in the spirit of the holidays and by the magic of the universe and degrees of separation, Dash and Lily’s love story remains distinct among those aforementioned cookie-cutter holiday tales. The concept and thrill of the unknown pen-pal in a teen rom-com took many clichés to make a refreshingly joyful plot.
The ‘opposites attract’ trope within this thrilling tale allows for such diversity in the stories that are told. Lily has such a rich heritage chock full of diverse love stories while Dash has had bad love luck. As an Asian American, it was wonderful to see representation in Lily’s life of having big family reunions and maintaining those cultural traditions of receiving money from your strict elders during the New Year and lighting incense. It seems both Dash and Lily are New York natives, as they indulge in famous New York pizza, grand museums and small bookstores. The city is wide and unknown to many, but through the eyes of Dash and Lily, it’s their home.
When huddling by the fire with a cup of hot cocoa with your loved ones and looking for something to watch, ‘Dash and Lily’ will be that comfort watch that warms your hearts and gets you in the spirit of Christmas.