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The holiday season will surely look a lot different this year, with many sinking into the newest holiday TV releases to return to a small sense of normalcy. “Dash and Lily,” Netflix’s new eight-episode series based off the book Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares, written by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn, transports the viewer into the epitome of a merry New York Christmas, a notion one could only imagine in the midst of a global pandemic. It is perfect for any young adult romance fans, Hallmark movie aficionados or even someone wishing for a little more Christmas cheer this season.

Each episode is full of aesthetically pleasing scenery, with famous New York City landmarks like Central Park, Grand Central Station and more making an appearance decorated in twinkling lights and grand holiday decor. The story itself starts in the Strand, one of New York’s famous bookstores that would satisfy any book-lover’s dream. The soundtrack is a mixture of classic Christmas songs and trendy, coffeehouse tunes I’m not cool enough to recognize. It encapsulates both Dash and Lily’s personalities without being overpowering or distracting. The contrasting personalities of the main characters would have been almost cheesy in a regular movie-length production, but the series format gives the story enough time to unfold and a real relationship to form.

Lily, lonely during the holidays for the first time, leaves a red notebook with a clue that curious but pessimistic Dash picks up. This ignites a series of dares and revelations that involve everything from a mall Santa, drag clubs, stuffed animals and so much more. Throughout the journey, Dash and Lily cross paths so often, making any viewer anticipate their meeting even more. One grows to enjoy Lily’s family’s banter or wait on the edge of their seat for Dash to read Lily’s next clue. While the series deviates from the book’s details slightly, the overall plot and character list is very similar. We see more of a comparison by Dash of Dash’s ex-girlfriend and Lily, and a former classmate almost gets between the budding relationship. 

Unlike many adaptations, a fan of the book version (like myself) would enjoy the series. Midori Francis from “Ocean’s 8” and “Good Boys” emulates the sweet and awkward nature of Lily, adding a breath of fresh air and light voice to the main character. Austin Abrams from “Euphoria,” “Chemical Hearts” and “Paper Towns” plays a lonesome, sometimes mopey Dash that can be annoying at times. He helps to ground Lily, especially when she makes some questionable decisions. He has a Timothée Chalamet-esque energy that completes Lily’s eccentric style. At some points, her childish spirit (and wardrobe) borders on irritating, but she seems to always float back to reality before it is a nuisance. The show itself rounds out nicely, reminiscent of a Hallmark Christmas movie on a cold winter’s night.

Netflix’s “Dash and Lily” is a great binge-watch that captures budding young love and the magic of holiday spirit. Its simplicity and fun journey pull the viewer into a new world, and the lovable troupe of characters enhances the storyline. I recommend this show to anyone who loves a fun contemporary romance, a sweet holiday story or even a good jaunt through New York City.  I give “Dash and Lily” 4/5 stars.

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