Dash & Lily

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Dash & Lily TV Poster Image
 Parents recommend
Holiday series has sweet romance, some drinking and sex.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 9 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Stands out for positive role models.

Positive Messages

The overall tone of this series is sweet and light, despite some mature content. It's made clear what part communication plays, and the importance of courage in finding one's way to a more authentic and fulfilled life. 

Positive Role Models

Dash & Lily's cast is diverse in terms of race, ethnicty, age, sexual identity, and socioeconomic status, though it's not really underlined; it feels natural in a big, diverse city. Parents and authority figures are largely absent from the narrative, though Lily's family is more available to her, particularly her big brother Langston (her aunt and grandfather also have storylines). Langston is a proud gay man who is shown to use Grindr for hookups, but winds up falling in love with one of his dates; the two are touchingly affectionate, as well as supportive of Lily. 


A subplot about Lily's brother Langston, who uses Grindr for hookups but ends up falling in love with one date, has the most mature content, like a scene in which Lily bursts into her brother's room and he emerges from beneath a sheet, clearly in the middle of performing oral sex. Sweet kisses are more the norm in this series, though. 


Language is infrequent: "hell," "asshole," "bitch." Characters agree that something "sucks."


Dash's financial status is made clear by his Dad's apartment: huge, with a security system and elevator that opens right into the living room. Another character, Lily's great aunt, has a vast and elegant apartment with luxurious appointments, too, and in general, these New Yorkers live in luxury that's unknown to working-class Manhattans. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Dash and Lily are both in high school and yet there's a scene in which Dash pours himself a large snifter of his dad's brandy. Lily says her older friends "drink a lot," we see a woman drink from a flask in one scene. After a party, two performers awaken on a couch and appear to be hung over. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Dash & Lily is a series about two high schoolers who connect with each other via a journal they leave in public places in New York City during the holidays. The series' tone is light and sweet, leaning hard on twinkling lights and Christmas magic and hard-to-believe coincidences; it's also quite charming. There's some drinking, like when Dash pours himself a large snifter of his dad's brandy, and when older friends of Lily's drink from a flask; there's also a morning-after party scene where two characters appear to be hung over. Lily's older brother (who might be a teen or young twentysomething) uses Grindr to find hookups; he falls in love with one date and the two are touchingly affectionate and supportive of Lily in the rest of the series. One scene hints that Lily's interrupted the pair in the middle of oral sex; scenes between Dash and Lily veer more towards sweet kisses and getting-to-know-you flirting. Language is infrequent: "hell," "asshole," "bitch." Dash & Lily's cast is diverse in terms of race, ethnicty, age, sexual identity, and socioeconomic status, it feels natural in a big, bustling city and no one makes a big deal about their differences. Adult authority figures are somewhat absent -- Lily's grandfather and great aunt appear to give her advice and love after a few episodes, but Dash's parents are largely unavailable. Communication and courage play a major part in the series, with characters finding out how to seek and find the things they want in their lives. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bysmorehea December 11, 2020

Charming teen rom-com.

This is a charming story. Yes, the characters do talk about sex, there is some language and some drinking. That being said, I think that this show is light-hea... Continue reading
Parent of a 18+ and 18+-year-old Written byanastasiaRUSA November 12, 2020

Not appropriate for young children

Within the first few minutes of the show, we are into the sex scene, even if it is undercovers, it's pretty obvious what's going on, nothing is left t... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byjackielovesbooks November 12, 2020

Trust me, you’ll get hooked.

I started watching this on November 10th, and finished it on the 11th. It’s a great Christmas rom-com for older kids. It has some swearing and some sex. The plo... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bykianjo123 February 24, 2021

Pretty good!

It was a short and entertaining series! some swearing and sex but it was minimal.

What's the story?

Based on the Dash & Lily series of young adult books by authors Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, DASH & LILY takes place in current-day NYC, where high schoolers Lily (Midori Francis) and Dash (Austin Abrams) are both having difficult Christmases when they make contact with each other via a red journal Lily leaves in The Strand bookstore right next to her favorite novel of all time, Franny & Zooey. The journal contains clues to Lily's identity, and dares that Dash must complete before she's willing to reveal more. It looked like it was going to be a lonely Christmas for both of them, but if they can find a way to find each other, that might just change. 

Is it any good?

It lands like a Hallmark holiday movie for the YA set and might be insufferable if it weren't for this series' authentic appeal, mostly personified in the form of its two gorgeous, lovable leads. Midori Francis just glows as Lily, a high schooler whose traumatic past of bullying and exclusion has left her gunshy towards seeking new friend her own age, particularly of the male, romantic variety. And Euphoria's Austin Abrams is simply adorable as a boy whose family troubles and romantic disappointments have rendered him slightly prickly towards his peers. Both lonely at Christmas, both looking for something to fill their lives yet afraid to reach out and get it; of course these two are destined to come together, but getting there sure is fun. Particularly when we're spending time in Lily's life, where her sweet, supportive big brother Langston (Troy Iwata) gives his sis advice in between falling in love with his own Grindr-hookup-turned-adoring-boyfriend. 

Dash & Lily's setting is also pleasingly festive. Has there ever been a Christmastime New York City captured on film quite like this? Instead of sticking to cliched locations like Rockefeller Center and Macy's Santaland (although those two iconic locations do make brief appearances), Dash & Lily mostly sets its tale of relatable Christmas magic in everyday places like The Strand bookstore, strung with holiday lights, and the Two Boots pizza parlor. Of course, the gimmick that brings Dash and Lily together (eventually) is ridiculous; leaving clues for each other in a Christmas-red notebook is so cutesy it's saccharine, and viewers will be forgiven their Grinch-like thoughts that the whole scheme basically relies on leaving an object in public for 10 million people to not steal, but it's hard for said cynical thoughts to linger under Dash & Lily's charm offensive. May this sweet series become a Christmas classic of its own, hopefully with equally enchanting seasons to come. 


Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether it's OK to show teen sex and drinking in series aimed at teenage viewers. Do shows like Dash & Lily present a realistic view of teen life, or is anything exaggerated for entertainment? What would the real-life consequences of the characters' behavior be?

  • Does Dash & Lily make being a teen look like fun? Is it realistic? Do the teens you know look and act like this? Do they have these types of problems? Does a show have to be realistic to be enjoyable? 

  • How do Dash, Lily, and the other characters in this series demonstrate courage and communication? Why are these important character strengths

  • If you've read the Dash & Lily book series, how does the Netflix series compare? What was left out of the series? Was anything added? What do you think about the differences? Which is better? 

TV details

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