Dash and Lily: Christmas Shows Don’t Have to Suck

Every year, like clockwork, Netflix begins its annual job of bombarding subscribers with as much inescapable Christmas themed content as possible. Unsurprisingly, with the factory-like rollout of their holiday ventures, there’s more than a few duds. For every wonderful Klaus level project to come out of Netflix, there’s at least five (not so great) Princess Switches coming along with it. Yet Dash and Lily, a teen holiday rom-com and one of the newest additions to Netflix’s yearly onslaught is neither The Princess Switch nor Klaus. Instead it’s a pleasant middle, a charming escapist fantasy that feels especially comforting in such adverse times. 

Dash and Lily isn’t Home Alone or When Harry Met Sally, and good thing no one asked it to be.”

The eight episode series follows two New York City teenagers attempting to find joy in their otherwise lonely Christmases. Dash (Austin Abrams), a slightly cynical Christmas naysayer, repeats his annual tradition of spending Christmas by himself, while Lily (Mildori Francis), a bubbly girl willing to do anything for the sake of holiday spirit, grapples with her first Christmas by her lonesome. Dash and Lily’s twist, is what brings these two otherwise perfect strangers together. A distressed Lily (with help from her brother) plants a red notebook in the famed shelves of The Strand bookstore. With only the words “Do you Dare?” written on the cover, the notebook ends up in the hands of Dash, sending both characters on an exciting holiday themed scavenger hunt of epic proportions. 

Dash and Lily have an undeniable chemistry that transcends the pages of the aforementioned notebook and serves as the anchor of the show. And while both of the protagonist’s personality traits may read as straight out of a Lifetime film (a cynic and a believer, really??). But, what helps elevate these characters to fully dimensional is the stunning though admittedly wealthy and privileged New York City backdrop they’re given as a playground. The show is seemingly unimaginable without the steady bustle of cheer the Big Apple graciously provides. 

During these unprecedented times we’re living in, all of us could use a vacation of the mind. And Dash and Lily is ready to provide that. What truly elevates the show above Holidate, The Princess Switch 2, and the rest of the crop of this year’s Christmas releases is the way it makes you feel. If you’re like me and love New York City with all your heart or if you’ve never been and hope to visit someday, Dash and Lily will have you longing for a moment in a big crowd, or simply a hug from a friend, things that scarcely exist in times like these. Unlike the influx of television shows attempting to tackle COVID themed storylines, this show caters to the parts of us that would rather escape from all horrible things in our world. In such an easily digestible format, watching Dash and Lily is like packing your mental bags and taking an adventure in New York for 4 hours without ever leaving your living room. 

Dash and Lily also does a wonderful job at proving my ongoing point: Christmas shows don’t have to suck. Every year my Jewish family finds ourselves watching several holiday films and every year most of them suck. Filled with cringey dialogue and ridiculous plotlines, most Christmas films end up being something you laugh at, not with. And yes, of course I can appreciate a good cheesy feel-good film, but balance does exist, and with its equal parts classic holiday cheese and actual engaging storylines, Dash and Lily proves it.

 Dash and Lily isn’t Home Alone or When Harry Met Sally, and good thing no one asked it to be. In the current state of our world, is it not enough for something to simply make us feel comforted and put a smile on our faces? Let me enjoy my holiday spirit in the best way possible- through Netflix and teen television.