by Lucy Hewlett |
It’s the perfect rom-com series this Christmas, based on the book Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares written by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn.
It’s been such a strange and terrible year with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, with many of us having been isolated from family and friends. This heartwarming romance story between opposites, cynical Dash (played by Austin Abrams) and optimist Lily (Midori Francis) is the pick-me-up we didn’t know we needed.
What rom-com enthusiast doesn’t love a good opposites-attract trope? Not only that the setting in itself is enough to get us all in the spirit of Christmas. I mean Christmas in New York? The magical atmosphere of all things festive and cheery. It’s the perfect backdrop for any romance.
Disclaimer: There will be spoilers moving forward.
This series had me hooked right away as I was thrown into the mystery from episode one as Dash is intrigued by a little red notebook titled “Do you Dare?...” written on the front. Joni Mitchell’s River also gets a scene-stealing moment. Sold!
In a time where social media has taken over how we connect with people and online dating is becoming the go-to for finding romance, it’s refreshing to see a connection form through words on a page and the whirlwind of an adventure that follows as Dash & Lily learn about each other through the various dares they do at the instruction of the other through this notebook. It brought about a sense of nostalgia when it comes to the old-fashioned romances whilst also bringing something modern to the mix. It’s a unique concept for sure, it’s not every day you’d waltz into your local bookstore coming across a notebook of clues leading to that great romance you’ve always dreamed about.
Like with every love story there are obstacles a couple will go through before they get their happily ever after. We learn very early on in the series that Dash had a previous relationship with Sofia before she had to leave New York due to her father being stationed in a new country. As far as we knew she was out of the picture. But her return had Dash torn between his developing romance with Lily and unfinished business with his ex. What I liked about this, in particular, was that it served not only to throw a bit of a drama into the works but also lead to some great character development for Dash.
At Sofia’s party, she speaks on behalf of Dash, knowing he does not feel comfortable socialising. Dash comes to realise that though her intentions came from a good heart in the end he needs to change. Dash explains to Sofia that if he allowed her to continue to speak for him then he wouldn’t need to speak for himself. Lily brings Dash out of his shell adding a sense of adventure to his life of solitude. Just to find out her name he has to get into a bit of an embarrassing altercation with Santa in a department store. You’ll have to watch to know what I mean but it was a big moment for our silent type, Dash.
Is it cheesy? Absolutely. A bit unrealistic? Maybe. But a great story doesn’t have to be realistic to be great. It’s fun, it’s charming and the diversity surrounding characterisation is to be praised. It is obvious how much craft has gone into these characters, from Dash’s endearing cynicism and hidden romantic side, Lily’s bright and cheerful persona on the inside and out in the form of her bold fashion choices. This, as well as the characters’ shared passion for literature, it’s impossible not to adore them. Lily is an absolute icon in embracing exactly who she is despite not quite ‘fitting in’ with everybody else which I am sure many of us will see ourselves reflected. She is someone that can inspire us all to embrace our individuality.
Dash and Lily clearly bring out the best in each other. Lily warms Dash’s cynical heart when it comes to the festive holiday season and makes him believe in love again, whilst Dash encourages Lily to step outside of her comfort zone and to never hide her quirkiness because let’s face it that is what makes her so lovable as a character.
Dash & Lily’s story is unlikely, to say the least, but even so, it’s a feel-good narrative and one that makes you want to believe in romance and despite not having much screen time together the chemistry between Abrams and Francis is on fire. In this day and age, it’s likely that a lot of us, like Dash, can feel cynical towards the idea of love but this series is enough to make even the realists have room for a little belief in their hearts.
I’m a sucker for a great romance story and this series gave me all the fuzziness inside that you’re meant to feel at this time of year. It’s escapism of the best kind and Netflix has already announced plans for season two, no surprise there. So, if you haven’t seen it already, what are you doing with your life?
Now excuse me while I go binge-watch it all over again!
(Image Copyright: Netflix & Laps Entertainment)
Lucy Hewlett is a writer and a recent graduate from the Falmouth Writing for Script and Screen masters with an interest in romantic comedies and continuing drama.
Find Lucy on Twitter @lucy_hewlett. @lucy_hewlett