- Dash & Lily -Wait, Do I Want To Be Lily's Aunt In 'Dash & Lily' When I Grow Up?
Glamour icon. Fairy Godmother. Mrs. Basil E. Whichever moniker you bestow upon Lily's Great-Aunt Lillian in Dash & Lily, one thing is for sure: this queen's crown will never be dropped. And she won't let you drop yours either. Rather, she'll place it on your head and teach you how to keep it there.
While the Netflix rom-com is centered around the sweet teendom version of You've Got Mail pen pals, Dash and Lily, Mrs. Basil E. (played by Jodi Long) is the glue that ties Dash and Lily together. She pushes her loved ones to stop living in scaredy cat angst, provides ample wisdom and empathy when they're most needed, and hello, have you seen her NYC apartment? Let alone her theatrical flair style-wise and otherwise.
Mrs. Basil E. embodies the kind of love story we all should strive for — one with yourself. Her energy revitalizes those around her to embolden themselves to grow. Watching her makes me want to be the guardian angel leading the way, the wise woman and mentor who seizes life and encourages those around her to do the same. Could you say that I aspire to be Mrs. Basil E.? Um, duh. And here's why, darling.
She's Got Stories for the Ages
Remember that time you wanted to go to an Off-Broadway show so your aunt flew you out to Las Vegas to see the Blue Man Group? Yes? No? OK, well Lily can tell you all about it then. Sure, it ruffled a few feathers with her stuffy brother Arthur, but Mrs. Basil E. can take it. She wants Lily to have a plethora of life experiences like in all the books she and Dash pick up at the Strand, and that's exactly what you should want for your loved ones and most importantly, for yourself.
Her adventures don't stop there though. When Dash first sees Mrs. Basil E. and asks if she was the Lily at a punk show the night before, it's clear that while Mrs. Basil E. was not the Lily out cheering on the Challah Back Boys past 1 a.m. last night, she has been to her fair share of late-night concerts in her time. Oh and just why wasn't she? Her pal Derek Jacobi was in town, and he hates punk shows. Right, of course, have to roll with the flow on the visiting celeb friends. After all, as she tells Dash, she lives alone, but she is rarely alone, dear.
And lest we forget that when she goes to visit Lily after Dash pleads with her for help after their notebook snafu, Mrs. Basil E. takes pride in having gone on tour with the Rolling Stones. Like that is just a casual factoid in her autobiography. She chooses to enjoy her life and pursue it with gusto, rather than wait for life to happen to her. Aaron Burr she is not.
Or when her cherished niece comes to her on Christmas morning with her phone popping off from her friends who are over at McSorley's. No, she might not be the aunt one would find baking cookies on Christmas morning (she might order some to be delivered from Levain Bakery instead), but she is the kind of person who went to McSorley's with the cast of Hair and climbed onto the bar with Estelle Getty. And that is a treat in and of itself. A life filled with sweet memories you can inspire your relatives to make, too.
Can We Talk About Her Style and Flair?
The coat. The jewels. The sparkle. Just as Mrs. Basil E. always told Lily, who loves to make her own clothes, "your clothes are your inside on your outside, and you shouldn't leave that to mass manufacturers." Mrs. Basil E. always looks dressed to impress no one but herself. Just take one look at her Christmas morning attire. She woke up like this.
Not to mention her dazzling NYC brownstone. I have thankfully provided a gallery's worth of images to admire from front door to tea table:
But her flair for the theatrical in her wardrobe and decor also extends to her interactions in every day life. Like her stage name when paying for her red majorette boots that were used in the original 1958 production of The Music Man. The name on the pay slip? Lillian St. Clare DuBois. Are we paying homage to A Streetcar Named Desire, here? Very likely.
But we shouldn't be surprised, as this is coming from the woman who got her nickname because she used to send Lily and her brother Langston on scavenger hunts around the Metropolitan Museum of Art like in the book From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Please tell me a relative who knows how to have fun in a museum more than she does. I'll give you a minute. And who doesn't want to be that person helping everyone see excitement around every corner?
Her Wisdom Stemming from her Effervescent Joie de Vivre Is Unparalleled
Now, Mrs. Basil E. is not just Lily's fairy godmother, but her real godmother, who considers her niece an old soul and was the one who gave her a red notebook to jot her thoughts and feelings down in the first place. (For the record, as an avid journal enthusiast, I highly concur with Mrs. Basil E's record keeping notions and appreciate how much she wants her niece to express herself.)
So it's just as well that Mrs. Basil E. is the person who encourages Lily and Dash to keep their game of dares and genuine connection going, even if it seems trepidatious to be vulnerable with someone or that their idealized versions of each other might not be who they are in reality. Doesn't mean the relationship isn't worth the risk! Take the Cinderella shoe: she can't be the one to give Lily the red boot after Dash trekked all the way to Queens and back to return it! What fun would that be? And that's the Prince's job, even if he can be persnickety.
And it's her lust for life that propels Lily to finally stand up to her grandfather when he questions his dear Lily-Bear's antics over this holiday season on New Year's Eve. She isn't the same girl he's always known but a stronger, more tenacious one who is no longer scared of growing and evolving. Resisting change is vastly overrated, as Mrs. Basil E. would attest. From her great-aunt, Lily learns how to argue for her limitations and like Mrs. Basil E. suggests, they surely become hers when she does. No one can underestimate the importance of commanding a room and not letting anyone snuff out her light or her opinion. And if that isn't a resolute attitude to carry into a new year, I don't know what is.
She Cuts the Crap and Makes You Do It, Too
Mrs. Basil E. sees the best in herself and doesn't want the people around her to waste their potential and their time, let alone hers. So when she tries to suss out Dash over coffee, she calls him out directly for saying he doesn't care about her niece. She revels in Lily having an exhilarating adventure of her own. But she will not accept a boy acting disrespectful. Not in this house or on this planet. She helps him admit to himself that he cares and that it's not a bad thing to believe in something. Not just in fairies or the spirit of Christmas, but in yourself. He believed he could find a girl with a boot after all. It's not that much of a stretch.
She also helps her brother come out of his own angsty shell. Even though he puts up a tough exterior, he confides in his sister how terrified he is to move to Florida to be with his girlfriend Mabel, which has spiraled into holding Lily back because he is the one who is insecure about going after what he wants. She calls out her brother's "mixed-up ideas about relationships," and they end up agreeing on an arrangement for Lily to stay in New York and not have to uproot her life and move to Fiji (and away from Dash) with her parents after her dad gets a new job. Who can she stay with while Gramps takes a leap of faith and goes on a Floridian vacay? Mrs. Basil E., naturally.
My Closing Pitch to Netflix
Mrs. Basil E. is the mentor and best friend we wish we all had and were. The wink at the end of the movie who knew how it would end the whole time and was just nudging you along until you reached your inevitable conclusion. She's brave, she's bold, and quite frankly, she's just fabulous.
Bottom line, we desperately need and deserve a spinoff of Mrs. Basil E.'s escapades. I'm sure she has plenty of her very own Dash & Lily love stories to tell. And who wouldn't want to watch a woman as she grows into a warrior? That's a hell of a journey all on its own and one I would clamor to watch.