20th Nov2020

‘Dash and Lily’ Review (Netflix)

by Rhys Payne

Stars: Austin Abrams, Midori Francis, Dante Brown, Troy Iwata, James Saito, Leah Kreitz, Keana Marie, Glenn McCuen, Ianne Fields Stewart, Diego Guevara, Patrick Vaill, Jodi Long | Directed by Fred Savage, Pamela Romanowsky, Brad Silberling

Does it get any more festive than snow in New York? I know many, many people have the lifelong dream of spending Christmas in the Big Apple and I have to admit that it is a dream that I also share! The closest I am probably ever going to get to this dream was the opening moments of the new Netflix original series Dash and Lily which involves a panning camera which showing the classic New York buildings complete with snow falling from the sky!

Dash and Lily follows all the conventions of your classic teenage ‘relatable’ series; for example the contrast between Dash who hates Christmas with a passion, against Lily who loves the festive period. Also, the show has an appearance from the Jonas Brothers in the form of a performance which is suited to a teenage audience. It relies heavily on classic slapstick style coincidental comedy (e.g. it just so happens they happen to be in the same place at the same time without realising, etc.) which is yet another trope of teen-focused comedy shows. This show itself was billed as a U for universal, however I believe this was not appropriate. I think it would be more suitable for a 12+ age rating as there is sexual references, depictions of alcohol consumption and a lot of discussion around the gay hook-up app Grinder.

Despite the contrast, the two characters end up falling for each other through a literature-based treasure hunt which was very interesting. While browsing the local library Dash discoveries a diary of sorts that instructs him to hunt for clues across New York; which gets passed between the two main characters as they learn things about it each and give out dares to prove their love. I thought this idea on its own was so wonderfully clever and romantic. As a fan of literature, this is the type of thing I would find enjoyable but I also appreciate it as a medium for shy characters/people to express thoughts and feelings which they otherwise would not be able to. I hope that this is an actual book that people can buy to create their treasure hunts as this is something I would love to buy!

Despite the show following the lives of Dash and Lily, I did find those two characters were somewhat boring and found that the ’side’ characters were much more interesting and entertaining. I found that Lily’s gay brother Langston (portrayed by Troy Iwata) and his partner Benny (played by Diego Guevara) we’re hilariously funny and could easily have their own show. I also loved the mystery that her grandmother Mrs Basil E – who was played by the wonderful Jodi Long – carried around with her constantly was so intriguing and did not get the screen time that she deserved. I would have enjoyed it if these characters were more embedded into the show more!

I did think that at times that Dash and Lily was too over-the-top to be relatable in certain senses. One scene, in particular, was a scene where Dash was making Mochi in a cooking class, which Lily dared him to do and suddenly there was dramatic music and he was moving in almost slow motion. While I understand that comedy was supposed to arrive from this dramatic scene it did break the relatability the rest of the series had built. This events in this show couldn’t easily happen to anyone, as it was hyper-realistic; yet set in a world and place we all recognise, New York. However, this scene exaggerated the television techniques which, in my opinion, was unnecessary. Despite this, one scene that I found particularly moving was a scene in which Lily confronted one of her childhood bullies in a slam pottery performance. While attempting slam poetry she was derailed into an attack on someone who made fun of her as a child and also earlier in the series. This impassioned and emotionally driven monologue, delivered perfectly by Midori Francis, which showcased her incredible talent. This scene was so phenomenal and I challenge anyone to watch it without feeling at least a little choked-up. I did not agree with the resolution of this monologue and the scene afterwards but I kept thinking of this moving moment hours after it had happened!

Overall, Dash and Lily is an incredibly fun teenage comedy (despite being billed as a U series), that is at times very romantic and engaging but I do wish that some of the other characters were given more of a chance to showcase who they are. Yet this is still a fantastic show for any teenager who wants to get into the festive mood.

**** 4/5

Dash and Lily is available to watch on Netflix now.

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