Episode 1 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 2 – | Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 3 – | Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 4 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 5 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 6 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 7 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 8 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 9 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 10 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 11 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 12 – | Review Score – 4.5/5
Mental health issues are increasing worldwide. It’s predicted that approximately 45.8 million adults report symptoms for common problems like anxiety and depression per week. And that’s just in England. That’s not even counting the rest of the world, nor is it even tackling those who don’t say anything for fear of ostracization.
Daily Dose of Sunshine then is an important Korean drama because it doesn’t just tackle mental health through a specific lens, it encompasses every aspect, bringing in people from all walks of life and reminding us that mental health can affect anyone at any time.
The psychological aspect of this drama is seen through the eyes of cheerful psychiatric nurse Da-eun. She’s been moved over from Internal Medicine for “being a nuisance” and being too attentive to the patients rather than focusing on paperwork. In the psych ward, she learns the ins and outs of her trade. Although some would argue this is basic knowledge she should already know, it’s a good way of bringing the audience along for the ride in the shoes of a “newbie”.
With 12 episodes, each clocking in at around 70 minutes or so, Sunshine has an episodic structure, with a longer weaving narrative keeping everything stitched together. These episodes tackle everything from Panic Disorder to anxiety, depression, self-harm and even suicide. This is not for the fainthearted and the show doesn’t shy away from showing the worst aspects of mental health.
However, it doesn’t do so in an exploitative way. Instead, each episode is full of life lessons that each and every one of us can take away. In one episode, the head nurse, Ms Song, delivers an impassioned speech about life after psychiatric care for patients discharged; something we rarely seen in shows like this. Another time, we see depression eat away at one of our characters, seeing the proverbial sunshine leave their life and how that affects their entire psyche and character.
These moments are really relatable and anyone who has been through a mental health condition will almost certainly resonate with what’s on offer here. There are some serious tear-jerking segments as well, while the show doesn’t opt for a “happily-ever-after” story for each of the episodes, which feeds back into that realism aspect this one aspires toward.
Similarly, the aesthetic aspects of this series are just as good as the writing. There are some impressive sharp edits between scenes, while the creative use of colour and sound works beautifully to elevate this above other dramas of its kind.
One gripe with Daily Dose of Sunshine though stems from the romance angle. Da-eun is our plucky female protagonist and early on the show sets up a love triangle between her, a finger-snapping doctor called Go-yun and Da-eun’s childhood friend Yu-chan. It’s written quite well for a while… until it’s not. The entire thing peters out and it’s almost like the writers realized they didn’t want it overpowering the message of the series and so it’s relegated quite quickly to the backburner.
This aside though, Daily Dose of Sunshine is an excellent Korean drama. It’s well written, has some important life lessons and the episodic structure works well to break up each chapter into digestible bites. The acting is great all round and the editing is very good. This one will almost certainly be up for awards next year.
Verdict - 9/10