Dash & Lily is a Netflix Original Romantic Comedy series, released in November 2020. It is created by Joe Tracz (A Series of Unfortunate Events (2017)) and adapted from the Young Adult novel Dash and Lily's Book Of Dares by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn (the minds behind the book version of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist).
The show focuses on a whirlwind romance between the cynical Dash (Austin Abrams) and the optimistic Lily (Midori Francis). A week before Christmas, the former finds a certain red notebook the latter left hoping it would bring her one true love to her. The thing is, it actually works — Dash and Lily get to know each other and grow as people through the dares and letters they leave for each other in the notebook. The catch? The whole thing remains semi-anonymous and the two try their best not to meet, even as it becomes increasingly clear how compatible they are.
Not to be confused with the film Dash And Lillynote .
The series was canceled after one season.
Dash & Lily provides examples of:
- Adapted Out: The subplot of Dash and Lily running afoul of a Obnoxious Entitled Housewife and her friends after an accident in the original book is cut for time .
- All of the Other Reindeer: Lily has no friends her own age and is repeatedly mentioned to have been the weird girl in middle school.
- As Himself: The Jonas Brothers play a concert as themselves in the final episode and Nick Jonas in particular doles out some advice.
- Back-to-Back Poster: The poster has leads and love interests Dash and Lily stand back to back.
- Betty and Veronica: The contrast between Dash's love interests, Sofia and Lily. Sofia has many traits of the Veronica — a sophisticated and well-traveled foreigner who does all the socializing for him. Lily is Betty-like: an awkward and upbeat girl who has lived her whole life in New York City and who instantly connects with Dash on a deep level. The only trait that flips is their familiarity with Dash: Sofia is the ex-girlfriend for whom he still has nebulous feelings for, Lily is the mysterious new girl whom he hasn't met yet.
- In a way, broody stranger Dash (Veronica) and oblivious childhood acquaintance Thibaud (Betty) with Lily (Archie).
- Big Applesauce: The show is one big love letter to Christmastime in New York City, with landmarks both famous (Central Park) and local (the Strand, the Morgan Library) being emphasized.
- Book Ends: The show starts and ends in the Strand.
- Break the Cutie: Though it is a sweet and romantic story, the rest of the world is continuously dumping unneeded drama on poor Lily, sending her into a screaming, snowman bashing fit.
- Brooding Boy, Gentle Girl: Lily is perpetually upbeat (though not without a considerable amount of effort), artistic, and loves books, dogs, and her family so much. Dash, on the other hand, is a cynical loner who does have friends, but tends to push them away more often than not. Boomer even notes how knowing Lily brings out a different side of Dash, namely his protective and outgoing side.
- Camp Gay: Lily's brother Langston and his boyfriend Benny both have somewhat effeminate mannerisms, with vocal fry. The Christmas mall elf is implied to be gay too because he's even more strongly camp.
- Cleaning Up Romantic Loose Ends: Langston travels to Puerto Rico to find Benny and patch things up; Boomer and Sofia are shown leaving a cinema, linking hands and smiling; Arthur decides to move to Florida so he can be with Mabel; and we think something's about to happen with Thibaud and Arryn, but she is then shown kissing her girlfriend when the ball drops.
- Color-Coded Characters: As befits a Christmas fanatic such as herself, Lily is pretty much essentially represented by the color red: red puffer jacket, red converse, red bauble earrings, red boots (very important) but most importantly, red notebook. Cynical Grinch Dash on the other hand has a far more subdued color palette, mainly dark blue, grey and black.
- Contrived Coincidence:
- Dash is perfect for Lily and just happens to be the first person to find the notebook.
- Lampshaded; Dash attributes the insane coincidence of getting a ping on Lily's location through the mommy app just when he needed to return the notebook and her boot to Christmas fate.
- Cool Old Lady: Lily's beloved great-aunt and godmother Lillian/"Mrs. Basil E", a wealthy and eccentric performer who lives in a giant apartment and dotes on her.
- Crappy Holidays: Christmas Day winds up being a bummer. Lily gets drunk, has a sour first meeting with Dash, gets into trouble for said drinking, and gets the news that she's moving to Fiji in a week.
- Cute Bookworm: Lily loves books, to the point that her entire room is chock filled with them. She's even repurposed her fireplace to function as a bookcase!
- Cynic–Idealist Duo: Dash is a cynical, brooding, Christmas hater with divorced parents and who has suffered a recent heartbreak. Lily is an optimistic, free-spirited Christmas lover with a tight-knit family and who has never been in love. They prove more than a match for each other.
- Dramatic Irony:
- Any time Boomer blithely pretends to be clueless about Lily's identity because the audience knows the two are in cahoots.
- The Christmas Eve party. Dash and Lily hit it off, unaware that they are talking to the person they've been falling in love with through the notebook, and Sofia pulls Dash away before Lily can introduce herself.
- Endearingly Dorky: Lily is awkward and out of place at the Christmas Eve party, wearing an ugly Christmas sweater that lights up when everyone else is wearing fancy clothes. She only knows one person there and laughs loudly and awkwardly at a joke Dash makes. Even though he doesn't recognize her as the girl from the notebook, he is still obviously charmed by her dorkiness when they make small talk.
- Fairytale Motifs: After Lily loses her red boot at a party and Dash finds it, everyone who knows the story does not hesitate to link the incidents to Cinderella. Sofia deconstructs this later on, however — associating the events with a fairy tale just puts things on a pedestal, and Dash has to go to Lily as himself and not as a prince if he wants to make amends.
- First Kiss: Played With. Lily is seventeen and longing to get her first kiss, and she finally gets it drunk, from Edgar, in the middle of a crowded bar on Christmas day. This is less than ideal for the teen romantic, but Langston later sets her straight that it's not the first kiss that's important; rather, she should care about the first kiss that matters.
- The Grinch: Dash is a proud Christmas hater. He detests all the fake cheer and celebration.
- Grounded Forever: Lily's punishment when Grandpa Arthur catches her coming in from a night out.
- History with Celebrity: Mrs. Basil E mentions going on tour with The Rolling Stones and partying hard with Estelle Getty.
- Hypocrite: Arthur ups and leaves for Florida without warning in Lily's first episode to be with his female friend Mabel. He is quite furious upon his return from his little romantic escapade that both Langston and Lily have been up to romantic hijinks of their own. Lily calls him out on this on New Year's.
- Incompatible Orientation: Implied. After being brushed off by Lily, Thibaud tries to hit on Lily's friend Arryn, and she ignores him. At the end of the series, he looks on as she's kissed heartily by her girlfriend.
- Innocently Insensitive: Thibaud delightedly calls his old classmate Lily "weird" when he sees her again after many years. Unfortunately, he seems to have forgotten that he once used that same adjective to insult her behind her back. Needless to say she's less than thrilled.
- In Vino Veritas: Lily to Dash after getting drunk off her friends' drinks at a bar. Justified, as she's pretty much been having the crappiest week during the happiest (and her supposed favorite) time of the year.
- Jerkass Ball: Lily and her parents are set up as having a loving relationship right off the bat, and yet: They're introduced randomly deciding to fly off to Fiji for a "second honeymoon", neglecting to tell their daughter until the very moment they're running out the front door, leaving her to contemplate Christmas alone as her brother and grandfather each appear to have someone else to share it with; said trip to Fiji turns out to be job-related, meaning that they would have to uproot Lily's entire life in New York, which they simply expect her to be okay with; and to top it all off, when they do get back from Fiji for Christmas, they seem somewhat unreceptive to their daughter's distress, not even bothering to ask her what happened when she's very obviously hurting.
- Lonely Rich Kid: Dash goes to a fancy school with high-class classmates and his father travels frequently with a girlfriend of the week, often leaving him alone in his giant, well-decorated Upper East Side apartment. Unhappy family life aside, Dash himself is something of a loner; following his breakup with Sofia, it's implied Boomer is his sole good friend. He also repeatedly mentions that he's quite happy with being alone.
- Long-Distance Relationship: It is implied that Langston's relationship with his ex-boyfriend fizzled out when they tried long distance, so he reacts negatively when his new fling Benny heads to Puerto Rico and dumps him. It turns out he's only going to be there for two weeks, and Lily calls him out on this immature overreaction.
- Love Before First Sight: Lily and Dash develop feelings for each other through their interactions in the notebook that they pass to and from each other, but neither know what the other looks like and Dash only knows Lily's name. Deconstructed — they had both idealized the other in their head so when their first proper meeting happens under less-than-favorable conditions, both are upset and disappointed.
- Mall Santa: Lily's "Uncle Sal", a good friend of her grandfather's, works as a Santa at Macy's. He plays a role in one dare.
- Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Deconstructed. The premise of a brooding boy taking up the challenge of having fun posed to him by an overly optimistic and sweet girl is clearly a reference to the trope. Beyond the first episode though the series shows very clearly that the girl in question is not nearly as two-dimensional as the trope typically includes, and she expresses frustration with being expected to be upbeat all the time.
- Maybe Ever After: At the end, Sofia and Boomer go see Collation together and walk out of the theater holding hands. This is the most seen of their budding relationship.
- Missed Him by That Much:
- Dash and Boomer plot to have Lily leave the notebook at the pizzeria Boomer works at so Boomer can see what she looks like. However, she comes in during the lunch rush and Boomer only catches the back of her coat as she leaves. Subverted. When this scene is revisited, it turns out Boomer went after her and met her. The two of them then keep this knowledge from Dash.
- At Priya's Christmas party, Lily and Boomer miss each other by a few seconds. Had they met, Lily could have connected the dots and realized how close she is to "Notebook Boy".
- Multigenerational Household: The high school-aged Lily and her college-aged brother Langston live in a Manhattan apartment with their parents and grandfather.
- Name and Name:
- Unlike the book it was based on, Dash and Lily's Book of Dares, the series is simply titled Dash & Lily after the two protagonists.
- Episode 5 is entitled "Sofia and Edgar", after figures from Dash's and Lily's respective pasts.
- New Year's Kiss: The series ends with the leads kissing as New Year's fireworks start going off over the New York City skyline.
- No Antagonist: The main conflict comes from how compatible the main characters are, rather than any Big Bad or major villain, and although there are Jerkass characters, there's no central villain to defeat. The conflict is all internal for the characters.
- Noodle Incident: Lily's great-aunt, Lilian, is not permitted to see her after "an incident with the Blue Man Group." Subverted, as it is later explained that Lilian took her to their show in Las Vegas without her grandfather's permission.
- Not What It Looks Like: In the first episode, Dash is caught at the Strand by his ex-girlfriend's good friend Priya holding The Joy of Gay Sex.
- Old Flame Fizzle: Dash still has unresolved feelings for his ex-girlfriend Sofia, and sparks fly when she comes back in town looking to reconnect. It turns out that neither of them really want to restart their relationship and are only coming back to each other out of familiarity. They end the show on good terms and Sofia even helps Dash get the girl.
- Once More, with Clarity!: The "sting operation" Dash and Boomer set up. At first it seems like Boomer missed Lily coming in, but when this scene is revisited from Lily's point of view, he actually chased after her and met her, with both agreeing not to tell Dash.
- One Degree of Separation: Dash and Lily are closer than they think — Lily and Boomer meeting early on aside, Lily reconnects with her middle school classmate Edgar Thibaud, who goes to school with Dash. Lampshaded.Sofia: The city is not that big.
- One-Gender School: Lily mentions going to an all-girls' high school.
- Opposites Attract: Love blooms between the Cynic–Idealist Duo Dash and Lily.
- Percussive Therapy: Invoked by Dash. In an attempt to get the ever-positive Lily to embrace some negative emotions, he sends her to a pop-up where participants create something and proceed to smash it. Lily can't bring herself to destroy the muppet she created, but this lesson comes back to her when she is agitated about her upcoming move to Fiji and she smashes some snowmen to feel better.
- Plot-Triggering Book: The series opens when Dash discovers a notebook with the message, "Do you dare?" written on the front of it at a bookstore. He then searches for the notebook owner, who's a girl called Lily. Afterward, Dash and Lily trade clues and dares in the notebook they pass back and forth at different places across New York City.
- Popcultural Osmosis Failure: Boomer wears a "Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker" hoodie and the sophisticated and wordly Sofia completely misses the reference.
- Race for Your Love: The final episode has Lily abandon her parents en route to Fiji and race back to the Strand, where Dash has set out a romantic night for her.
- Really Moves Around: Sofia's dad has a diplomatic position that forces her to move countries frequently.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
- Boomer tears into Dash in the final episode, calling him out for driving all his friends away on Christmas.
- Lily also delivers one to her family in the last episode, calling each of them out for their various poor choices and unreasonable expectations over the last few weeks.
- Romantic False Lead: Edgar Thibaud is a bumbling idiot and all wrong for Lily, but she still entertains a flirtation with him until she meets Dash in the flesh. She later clarifies he doesn't mean anything to her.
- Saying Too Much: Twice over.
- Lillian lets slip "no pun intended" when talking about dashing something over. Although she tries to cover her tracks, Lily realizes that "Notebook Boy" had previously said his name was a "connector of words". He's Dash and she had already met him at the party.
- Langston huffily says Lily can "mail [Dash] the notebook from Fiji", inadvertently letting slip that their parents are planning to move to Fiji and take Lily with them.
- Sealed with a Kiss: The final shot of the series is Dash and Lily kissing and watching New Year's Eve fireworks from the Strand.
- Secret-Keeper: Both Mrs. Basil E/Lillian and Boomer know who's on both sides of the notebook romance but never reveal it to the other (on purpose, that is).
- Secret Secret-Keeper: In the last episode, Grandpa Arthur reveals he had known about Dash and Lily's notebook romance the whole time.
- Sexy Discretion Shot: The end of "Christmas Eve" has Dash and Sofia begin to make out on a museum couch. The camera pans away from them and lingers on the notebook and boot he was supposed to deliver to Lily's great-aunt before it fades to black. Subverted when it turns out the two of them never made it further than kissing, declaring the whole thing an Old Flame Fizzle.
- Shipper on Deck: Boomer strongly suggests that Dash break things off with Sofia because Lily is the one who is good for him.
- Shout-Out: Dash and Lily are named for, well, the historical writers at the center of Dash And Lilly, Dashiell Hammett and Lillian Hellman.note
- Show Within a Show: Much is made of a (fictional) Pixar film entitled Collation about a stapler and a piece of paper who fall in love. The supporting cast includes a highlighter (voiced by Gina Rodriguez).
- Sibling Yin-Yang: Lily's grandfather Arthur and his sister Lillian. While both are close with Lily, Arthur is strict, serious, and is going through a rough patch in his relationship, while Lillian is free-spirited, eccentric, and single. They're also not on the best of terms, with Arthur often calling Lillian unwelcome at family gatherings. Arthur is upset with Lily more than once throughout the show and Lillian frequently goes to bat for her.
- Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Langston and Benny spend a couple nights on a New York City roof enjoying the beautiful winter skyline. Langston then spends an entire episode down with a cold, and he berates himself for thinking solely of romanticism over reality.
- Third-Act Misunderstanding: In the seventh episode of eight, Dash and Lily meet in person, both upset that the other was hiding secrets from them. Dash then pushes her away by breaking things up via notebook, and Lily is all too happy to move on as she's headed to Fiji. They get better.
- Token Black Friend: Boomer is the only African-American main character and the best friend to the white Dash. His role in the plot is to further Dash and Lily's flirtation (including dropping everything at work and sprinting off to find Dash in the middle of a rush). While there are other details about him (his tight-knit family is doing Christmas based on his chef aunt's food and he has struck up a friendship with Jeff the Elf), these happen largely offscreen. Lampshaded in the last episode when he scolds Dash for assuming Boomer has no life outside of him. He is seen going on a date with Sofia at the end though.
- Twofer Token Minority: Langston's boyfriend Benny is Latino of Puerto Rican descent.
- When the Clock Strikes Twelve: In the final episode, Lily's flight to Fiji leaves at midnight and Dash has until then to win her back.