lingering questions

Every Question I Had While Watching Dash & Lily

Is any of this remotely realistic? No. Will I watch it all in one sitting? Yes. Photo: ALISON COHEN ROSA/NETFLIX/ALISON COHEN ROSA/NETFLIX

Happy holidays, it’s the middle of November. Which means there’s eight whole episodes of a teenage Christmas rom-com, Dash & Lily, waiting for you on Netflix. It’s very sweet, but also in that classic holiday entertainment way it is grounded absolutely 0 percent in reality, which forced me to spend four hours binging it while simultaneously screaming at my television. (For whatever that is worth, I did feel compelled to watch it all in a single sitting.) It’s got holiday cheer and absentee parents. It’s got teens running absolutely wild in empty New York City landmarks. You’ll laugh. You’ll probably not cry. You’ll ideally feel some joy. And you’ll have questions. So many questions. Here are mine, in chronological order, if you care to read along during your screening. And before you take to the comments or Twitter to yell at me and tell me I overanalyzed a sweet, silly show about teens … yes, I know. My brain is broken.

Episode 1: “Dash”

Did Netflix just already have the rights for Joni Mitchell’s “River” kicking around the office? Photo: ALISON COHEN ROSA/NETFLIX

• Why does this narrator want me to cry? “Imagine you’re in New York and it’s Christmas and you’re surrounded by people.” No, narrator, I absolutely will not. It is a COVID winter, bitch! I’m staying home because I’d eventually like this end for us all, but I am not trying to envision the December we’re not getting this year.

• Was Timothée Chalamet unavailable for this role? Did the casting call just have a picture of his sweet little face under the requirements section?

• How old is this guy supposed to be? 16? 20? 25? High school? College? Where are his parents? Good sweater, though.

• Ah, yes, who among us does not love to seek refuge from the blight of holiday capitalism in a … store? Specifically a store that is currently under fire because its owner reportedly bought Amazon stock with a PPP loan.

• Okay, the Strand clerk called him “kid,” again I ask … how old is he?

• What woman in her right mind is asking strange men in New York City to come find her? Ride the subway like once, it’ll happen and it won’t be pleasant. Thus, I have come to the conclusion these are in fact supposed to be children.

• Children who, uh, apparently make snide jokes about James Patterson novels?

• Find the book where Santa Claus shows up to hand out weapons to kids? Okay, this is some bullshit because clearly the only part of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe anybody remembers from childhood is the descriptions of Turkish delight.

• Are we to believe Priya’s 12-year-old nerdy sister who is into fantasy books hasn’t already read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe? Priya, I assure you, she has.

• What teenager throws a party on Christmas Eve for other teenagers? Again, I ask, parents?

• “If you are not a teenage boy, please return the notebook the the shelf.” This is not a question so much as me screaming, “No, please God, this is how you get your sweet little teen self murdered.”

• Wait, is he doing Joni Mitchell’s “River”? Did we not watch The Politician, people? Ben Platt called and he would like a word.

• Did Netflix just already have the rights for this song kicking around the office?

• Remember getting crushed by people and stuff on the subway? Busy slice shops? Miss that!

• Ah yes, a depressing French film about murder. Known favorite genre of teens everywhere.

Can his father not hear the blaring alarm in the background of this phone call?

• What teen likes brandy? Your parents are gone and you have free rein of the alcohol and you go for brandy?

• What did those Christmas decorations ever do to you buddy?

• Who uses the word “bedding” as a verb that isn’t, like, a random dude from the Old Testament? More specifically, who is using it as foreplay? Is this heterosexuality? Seems bad.

• Boomer is absolutely going to fail at this sting operation, isn’t he? (Reader: He does.)

• Really what girl is like other girls, I ask? If everybody is sarcastic and sophisticated and sadistic, none of us are.

• Once again, I must ask how old these two are supposed to be??

Episode 2: “Lily”

Why has nobody told this literal child it is okay that she doesn’t have a love story yet? Photo: ALISON COHEN ROSA/NETFLIX

• Sorry, wait, your parents and grandparents and brother all met their significant others on Christmas? I am going to the wrong parties.

• Why has nobody told this literal child it is okay that she doesn’t have a love story yet? It’s okay that all you’ve got is family, you actual baby.

• Wait, your loving parents who are your whole world are going to Fiji and leaving you alone for Christmas? And your devoted grandfather is headed to Florida? This is … so mean?

• Where is this apartment? The wallpaper! The fireplaces! Plural!

• Who is falling in love with a Grindr hookup in the span of several hours?

• How is Lily carrying that giant Christmas tree alone? I have tried this, it’s damn near impossible. (Oh, just kidding she dropped it, never mind.)

• Do you ever knock, Lily?

• Somebody talk to me about this teal paint in Langston’s bedroom. It’s nice. Do we think it would look nice in my “dining room,” also known as the tiny space where I’ve shoved a too-big table in my apartment because my apartment is a normal size, ahem, Netflix!!!!

• You’re telling me there isn’t one other weird girl at the all-girls school? Isn’t that the point of the all-girls school?

• Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer is a depressing Christmas movie? Lily, why are you victim-blaming dead grandma for getting run over?

• Why is Boomer a better person than everyone else on this show? Can we get a Boomer spin-off where we don’t have to pretend to care about Timothée Chalamet 2.0?

• Who in this town isn’t Lily related to? The Macy’s Santa … sure, why not?

• What is Uncle Sal doing for Christmas? He seems nice. Maybe Lily can celebrate with him?

• Wait … this roof view is of the city skyline. Do they live in Brooklyn? Maybe Benny the dancer lives in Brooklyn?

• Shouldn’t these children still be in school? I am assuming this is that fateful calendar anomaly once every like six years where schools in New York get a full two weeks off, but who knows.

Episode 3: “Hanukkah”

Why am I so jealous of Lily in this sweaty basement club underneath a knish bakery? Photo: ALISON COHEN ROSA/NETFLIX

• Hmm, when was the last time I was in Grand Central? Remember leaving New York?

• He’s just gonna leave the notebook in Central Park and hope nobody steals it?

• Why are middle schoolers the absolute worst? Fast forwarding through this friendship bracelet scene because as the kid who once anxiety puked on the stairs on the way into the snowball dance in the sixth grade, this hits a little close to home.

• Who sleeps on the roof … in December … in a New York City apartment building?

• Why am I so jealous of Lily in this sweaty basement club underneath a knish bakery? Why do I hold my breath every time she gets close to a stranger with her bare face and want to slap a mask on her?

• That’s a 17-year-old boy? No, that is a grown man on shore leave and home for Christmas.

• But suspending my disbelief, why do his parents not care that he’s at a club at 2 a.m.?

• It looks like your house is being actively burgled and you just … go inside?

Episode 4: “Cinderella”

You’re really not going to elaborate on the “Blue Man Group incident”? Photo: ALISON COHEN ROSA/NETFLIX

• Do none of these kids know how to Google? (Sorry, sorry, I take it back, I see now that is against the “rules.”)

• Where do I download this mommy app? Seems useful, and I got kicked out the UES Moms Facebook group earlier this year for tweeting about their racist mess so I need a new line on the mom drama scene.

• The tour of Spamalot ended so many years ago, I feel like this lady could have washed the costumes by now?

• What do you know know, another extremely normal apartment! Did you see the active fires in the two different fireplaces?

• Do you believe in musical theater??

• Please tell me everything about the “Blue Man Group incident.” I must know everything. What happened?

• Which of the two dining tables in this giant apartment do you think they eat at? How fun to be able to sit at one dining table for six people and see another one.

• Do we think Grandpa realizes it’s a total dick move that he left Lily to be alone on Christmas and then came home when he got his heart broken because he didn’t want to be alone?

• What does Boomer’s boss think of him sprinting out of work all the time?

• Wait, he got to Dyker Heights by 5 p.m.? There is simply no way. If Boomer had to get from the East Village to the UES, that alone would have taken the 45-minute window that Lily gave Dash.

• Is this what teens are doing now? Sending Gossip Girl–ass “spotted” photos of themselves to each other?

Episode 5: “Sofia & Edgar”

Where does everyone on this show get these nice turtleneck sweaters from? I want one. Photo: ALISON COHEN ROSA/NETFLIX

• How are these journal entries written so that they only read the relevant lines and don’t spoil the entire plot? One sentence per page?

• “You’ve grown up so damn cute!” Lily, please, run, this is an adult man.

• What do you see in this asshole, Leeza the microbiologist?

• Where have I seen this smashing snowmen with a baseball bat scene before? (Answer: Meet Me in St. Louis. I should really rewatch that.)

• Where does everyone on this show get these nice turtleneck sweaters from? I want one.

• Sorry, this teen rented out this entire restaurant the night before the night before Christmas? But tomorrow night she’s also throwing a party? Even on Gossip Girl the kids had parents who checked in on rare occasions, namely during the holiday episodes — Thanksgiving, iconic — where Lily and Bart and Rufus and Dorota were around to give a shit, right?

Episode 6: “Christmas Eve”


• Why are they not telling me more about this Gowanus pie with cheese? Apple pie and cheddar? Raspberry and gouda? What’s the deal here?

• Her dad is interviewing for a job on Christmas?

• At this point, who doesn’t know Die Hard is a Christmas movie?

• I am a broken record, I know, but you cannot expect me to believe these are teenagers and they do not have parents and this party is happening in this current reality on the planet where I currently live?

• Why is it always In Cold Blood with these dudes?

• How drunk is this Edgar kid already? I am concerned.

• Oh, what’s that? Boomer trying once again to save Dash’s sorry ass and Dash being an ungrateful little baby?

• Complaining about the geographic impossibilities of Home Alone 2 just days after your impossible journey to Dyker Heights, Dash?

• Do teens these days actually retain quotes from Brave New World and not just memorize crap off SparkNotes after avoiding the summer reading until August 31?

• When was the last time it lightly snowed on Christmas Eve in New York City?

• Who is handing out the keys to museums to children?

• Oh God, are they going to bone in the museum?

Episode 7: “Christmas”

Who are these adults who are getting a sad teenager very drunk in a dive bar on Christmas? Photo: ALISON COHEN ROSA/NETFLIX

• Why do Lily’s parents secretly hate her? After 17 years of family traditions, they were just like “no <3.” Mean!

• Who goes out in two different shoes?

• Was Boomer named Boomer just to make an “okay, Boomer” joke? Have they made that joke yet? Have I dissociated from my body yet?

• Who are these adults who are getting a sad teenager very drunk in a dive bar on Christmas?

• Why does Dash think he has the right to be mad about this? Lily, you’re better than him!

• Oh, okay, so now your parents care about what you’ve been up to? And apparently are going to somehow pack up everything and move to [checks notes] Fiji in the span of a week?

Episode 8: “New Year’s Eve”

Oh God, is Nick Jonas talking about proposing to … Priyanka Chopra? Photo: ALISON COHEN ROSA/NETFLIX

• Hello, friendly Strand employee. Do you like your job? Do you feel like you are treated fairly by your employer?

• Where is everybody getting these good turtlenecks?

• Wait, sorry, you dumped your boyfriend because he was going on a vacation for … two weeks? And then were incredibly cruel to your little sister when she still tried to comfort you? Langston, you suck. Everybody except Boomer, you suck.

• Why does it take him so long to scroll through … hashtags (???) to find his best friend’s Instagram account?

• Why are we at Hudson Yards? (Fun fact, that’s the official motto of Hudson Yards.)

• How is it still doing this nice dusting of snow thing? The ground would be disgusting slush by now IRL.

• Is the bar so low for this guy that going to a Jonas Brothers concert is a sign of friendship? A concert he only went to so he could beg his friends to bail and help him solve his problems?

• What is Nick Jonas doing here? Was that a Camp Rock joke? Oh God, is Nick Jonas talking about proposing to … Priyanka Chopra? What is happening? Congrats to Nick Jonas.

• Six hours to an international flights and you’re just chilling at the dinner table? I am so stressed, please finish packing and call your car early. What if there is traffic on the way to Queens?

• After all that, you’re NOT going to give your sister the journal from the boy who loves her? Everybody! Sucks! Except! Boomer!

• Who keeps letting these kids into places unaccompanied? At least Serena using Dan’s dad’s gallery for her Christmas surprise made a modicum of sense. Why is my brain set on using Gossip Girl as a standard for reality? Have I left my apartment yet today? I should probably get some air.

• Grandpa, you were always going to change your mind, why did you have to wait until the 11th hour?

• Oh no, are they playing “Auld Lang Syne” as a dramatic countdown on a snowy New York New Year’s Eve? That is reserved solely for the scene of Carrie Bradshaw defying the laws of physics and time on the 6 train to get to Miranda’s apartment before midnight in the Sex and the City movie!!!!

• Edgar, please, go home. Stop drinking. Why do your parents who shipped you to boarding school to curb your bad behavior suddenly not care where you are?

• When did Dash have time to make that little custom red notebook ornament? That was for sure Boomer. Boomer for president.

Every Question I Had Watching Dash & Lily