Warning: Don’t watch it after December 1 or you’ll lose Whammageddon.
Dash (Austin Abrams) is a deeply cynical 17-year-old bibliophile still angry at his parents’ divorce and his father’s general selfishness. One day at a bookstore he finds a red notebook left by a girl named Lily (Midori Francis) for a worthy boy. Intrigued, Dash follows the book’s instructions and the two start a relationship based entirely on leaving messages and tasks in the red notebook. Dash is helped by his best friend Boomer (Dante Brown), while Lily is encouraged by her brother Langston (Troy Iwata) and her Great Aunt (Jodi Long).
I admit that this show played heavily on my personal influences. While it’s a bit ridiculous for a pair of 17 year olds to be so determined to try and find true love, the idea of meeting someone through a ridiculous series of mostly literature-based exchanges appeals to me. The two lead characters are both avid readers that have used books as a form of escapism, something that appeals to me as both a cinephile and a library patron. Also, both of the leads are super awkward in their own ways, something that, without getting into it too much, I might be able to relate to.
The story is told typically by alternating viewpoints of the same events, something that can be extremely enjoyable when done right, and this series actually pulls it off pretty well. The first two episodes, especially, provide a large amount of fun revelation when we see what Dash believes about Lily and then we are shown who Lily actually is. Due to the structure and the nature of the show, the two leads are almost never actually in the same scene, meaning that they are often playing off of what the other person has written, rather than off of their actual performance. It’s fully to the credit of the leads that we can read their faces just as well as they are reading the missives from their potential paramours. Also, they’re both just the right level of “cute” to allow you to believe that two people in their mid-20s are both high school seniors.
The supporting characters are great, particularly Boomer and Langston, but I also think that Lily’s grandfather was played well by veteran actor (and the first live-action Shredder) James Saito. Boomer is the only really close friend of Dash who is an upbeat extrovert in contrast with Dash’s sullen introversion. We also see other friends of Dash’s ex-girlfriend Sofia (Keana Marie), who clearly like her more than him (and let him know it). Langston is probably the funniest character in the show as he is a gay college dropout who constantly pushes Lily to do ridiculous things.
Overall, it’s a pretty fun series. My only warning is that they do play “Last Christmas” by Wham! in the first episode, so beware of losing Whamaggedon.
If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time, Collection of TV Episodes, Collection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.
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