Okay, here's the truth: I am not usually a fan of romantic comedies. I think, most of the time, they're really stupid, with characters following terrible advice from well-meaning friends, making questionable choices, and doing things that anyone can predict will end up an hour later (in our time, anyway) in an explosive fight, leaving me cringing and running out the room from an overload of second-hand embarrassment and horror.
So yeah, I don't really have good experiences for rom-coms, and usually avoided them when given the chance.
It does make one wonder why I decided to try this new romantic comedy that one day, showed up on Netflix, beckoning for me to try. Maybe it was because it was based on a book by David Leviathan, whose book Every Day I had a great experience reading. But it was really because of the synopsis that actually intrigued me: a boy and a girl exchanging their secrets and thoughts and dares in a red notebook and doing dares all across New York City--or at least, an alternate universe where New York is free of any mention of COVID-19, which is a place I hope to see once more.
And also, because I thought it was a French show. But that was only because I left the Netflix on a French language setting while watching another brilliant show I was watching, Arcane, but that's for another story.
Anyway, the show intrigued me, and I decided right then and there, that I would try it.
And for the first six to seven episodes, I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT!!!!!
Caption: Here is Lily, played by Midori Francis, in a cute teal sweater dress wrapped in green Christmas-tree tinsel that she improvised herself! Link: external-content.duckduckgo.com
Like, honestly! For the first time in a while, I was watching a rom-com that did not suck. It was free of any cringe, and it was just...awesome. We get to see a girl named Lily, played by Midori Francis, be this lovable sweet angel of a girl who exceeds warmth and joy, shining enough light in New York City to light up a Christmas tree (I sort of mean that literally). Her character, especially given the fact that she's Asian, was soooo refreshing for me, since the only portrayals I saw of Asian people in live-action movies and TV shows, with the exception of Alina Starkov in Shadow and Bone, were either the villains, smart nerds that are socially awkward, side characters...
Overall, they're portrayed characters that were just simply...weird.
For once, I thought, watching Crazy Rich Asians for the nth time with a family member, watching Rachel Chu ruin her boyfriend's family's mood in Singapore by talking about her dead father (again!) without even reading the room to check if that's appropriate, I would love an Asian main character that's actually depicted as a normal person.
Which is why I loved Lily so much, for her portrayal and for her character. Her race is never seen as a big deal, which leaves her room to shine as a bubbly character on her own. She loves making her own clothes (and Muppets), likes pies with cheese on top, caroling with her close circle of mutual adult friends who would fight for her, struggles with loneliness and has a good relationship with her gay older brother, Langston, and eventually, stands up to her middle-school bully for ostracizing her. Her wealthy grandaunt Lillian is a hoot, and she commands every scene she's in with such gravitas and grace. And her grandfather, while overprotective, is not annoying, and seems to want to keep her safe from bad influences and people, while also having reasonable blind spots over some important things.
Honestly, Lily felt real. And I'm glad I got to know her.