A whirlwind Christmas romance builds as cynical Dash and optimistic Lily trade dares, dreams and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations around New York City.
Dash is a Christmas-hating loner by choice, and Lily’s a yuletide-obsessed free spirit who would actually love to not be such a loner. For various reasons they’re both parentless this Christmas, and Lily’s brother Langston convinces her to set up a scavenger hunt to find her soul mate. She leaves a red journal in The Strand bookstore, Dash picks it up and is immediately hooked, and soon the two are anonymously trading dares and deep, personal insights while falling harder and harder into crush territory.
Based on Rachel Cohn and David Levithan’s Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares (which I haven’t read, but you can bet that now I’m gonna), Dash & Lily is like You’ve Got Mail (very overtly, thanks to a Joni Mitchell needle drop that made me cry in the first ten minutes of the series) meets Amélie meets the best Hallmark Christmas movie you’ve ever seen – but YA. In other words, it’s perfect. ALSO: it’ll make you miss New York so badly, and the music is legitimately great. Dan the Automator scored it, and it’s got some of the coolest Christmas music possible.
Dash is played by Austin Abrams, whom you might know from a lot of stuff including This Is Us, The Walking Dead, Euphoria, Paper Towns, Tragedy Girls and more. He gives perfect disaffected, well-read snark that is slowly worn down by Lily’s tireless cheer.
Midori Francis is Lily, and she’s a bit more of a newcomer, though she’s most recently been in The Birch and in Good Boys (where she played another character named Lily). She’s charming, quirky, spirited, smart – the ultimate rom-com lead.
Dash’s best friend Boomer is played by Dante Brown, who was recently in the Lethal Weapon TV series and the Octavia Spencer thriller Ma. Boomer RULES and my most fervent wish is that Brown will be a huge breakout star after his turn here.
Jodi Long plays Lily’s aunt, whom Lily calls Mrs. Basil E. after – you guessed it! – From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. (How great is this show??) She’s been in a ton of TV, most recently Falling Water.
And Lily’s grandpa Arthur is played by veteran actor James Saito, who has about a million credits to his name, the most relevant of which is another terrific recent Netflix romcom: Always Be My Maybe.
“Couch”-Sharing Capability: High
I have a few girlfriends who enjoy Hallmark and Lifetime Christmas movies as much as I do, and we have a text thread going where we recommend them to each other. Most, as you probably know, are pretty bad, but there’s a real gratification in finding those rare gems that are actually wonderful (the last great one I saw was One Royal Holiday, heads up). Dash & Lily is like the Platonic ideal of those movies, and all four of us binged the entire series over the weekend, texting each other the whole time. It was a delightful way to spend a weekend, lemme tell you.
Recommended Level of Inebriation: Low to Moderate
You definitely don’t need any booze to enjoy this festive, romantic, funny and heartwarming series, but if you don’t end up pouring yourself a peppermint schnapps during a certain scene near the end, you’re stronger than me.
Use of Your Streaming Subscription: A Shot of Christmas Cheer Right to the Heart
Between Houston’s 80-degree weather lately, the election and the pandemic, my usual holiday joy has taken a hit this year. Dash & Lily got me in the spirit IMMEDIATELY, and its pure-hearted Christmas cheer is still warming my heart a couple of days later.