Get into the Christmas Spirit with Dash & Lily (TV Series, 2020)
December has finally arrived and it's officially Christmas films season ! Given the year we all had, you might not be feeling up for the classic Netflix cheesy Christmas release of the year. Happily, Dash & Lily is the perfect TV series if you don't feel very Christmasy right now.
Dash and Lily are stuck in New York for the holidays. He hates Christmas, she loves it. They have never met but Dash finds a notebook full of clues in his favourite bookshop and the adventure begins ! Will Lily get the notebook ? Will they meet ? Will they even like each other ? When I started watching it, I felt like Dash - closer to the Grinch than the Christmas elf- but the TV series won me to the Christmas cause. This was one of the most surprising Netflix discovery of the season. I was expecting a stereotypical Christmas teen romance but even if it had some tropes of the genre, it offers a modern, equal depiction of what romantic relationships should be with an amazing Christmas soundtrack.
The existence of the notebook as a way for the protagonists to communicate means that even if they do fall for each other, they change without the influence or peer pressure of their crush.
They are in love with an idea meaning that when Lily goes on the night out, she wouldn't have heard about the event without Dash's note but she does it for herself not to impress him. She takes ownership of her life and her actions. When it feels wrong for her to complete a dare and destroy the toy she made, she walks off and does not hide it from Dash. She loves her optimism and would not change it for anyone.
So does Sofia, Dash's ex-girlfriend. She does not wait for him to suggest to get back together (or she would still be waiting but that's another story...) She wants him back and takes the steps to get there. Even if she does not succeed, it breaks the pattern of girls being told to wait for the guy to make the first step, to ask them out, etc.
Dash & Lily also touches on toxic masculinity and the pressures teenage boys can experience. Dash needs to learn it is okay to be vulnerable in front of someone else. His relationship with Sofia did not work out because he never let her in. He had to change for himself before he could make it work with Lily.
The constant back-and-forth of dares ensures both characters have pretty much equal screen time. It's not Dash's story, it's not Lily's story. It's their story. It's both of them coming together on these amazing 12 days of self-discovery, challenges and Christmas magic. Of course, the show is not perfect. I have not noticed it when I was watching it but several people pointed out that the actors were too old. I have looked and discovered that Austin Abrams (Dash) is 24 and Midori Francis (Lily) 26 which is quite a big gap with the characters' age. Although it didn't bother me, I'm 25 so I might have forgotten what 17-year-olds look like but it used to bother me. I used to be able to see that the people on screen are obviously way older than they are supposed to (hello, Gossip Girl). So, it can be a big deal for 17-year-olds who feel like they are not represented by these actors.
But, for once, the parents are present. Family plays a big role as it would in any teenagers' life. The relationship to family can be different depending on the protagonist but they are here and we see them on screen. In Gossip Girl, the parents had little to no influence on the teenagers' lives. But none of us could or can run out at 17 to do whatever we want without our parents starting to ask questions, right ?
Here, they have a pretty normal role. Lily's grandfather grounds her after she was out all night. Her aunt tries to make things better. Her brother plays a big role as the writer of the original clues. It's not just about the romance, both of them have lives outside of each other. Because they have never met, we have a chance to discover who they are as individuals before seeing them as a couple.
I also enjoyed to see how difficult and how many people are involved in making sure that the notebook gets from one protagonist to the other. I liked seeing how the people who helped were friends, family or acquaintances. It shows something like that does not happen by chance or magic, it is commitment and work from more than just the two lovers. Seeing how it happened made it more magic.
Overall, Dash and Lily takes teenage romance seriously and communicates perfectly what it's like to be 17 and falling in love for the first time. Adding to that New York in full Christmas gear and entertaining dares, this is the TV show you did not know you needed. It eases you into the holiday season and just like Dash, you are going to find yourself singing Fairytale of New York before you have a chance to stop yourself. So, do you dare ?