“If You Wish Upon Me” has already wrapped up its first half, and here are my thoughts on the drama thus far.
Note: this is a review of the first 8 episodes of the drama and is not a final review. The review is subjective.
“If You Wish Upon Me” is penned by screenwriter Jo Ryeong-Soo who has no other name to his credits. There is nothing I can base off so I will rely on his writing for the first half of this drama.
What I especially liked about “If You Wish Upon Me” writing thus far is how engaging it has been for me. I find myself sympathizing with the stories and shedding tears so early on. I cry at least twice each episode depending on whats happening, and whenever they bring up the imminent death of the doggo, I just want to lose it. This is my weak point.
Writing about death is not easy, and you have to balance between showcasing the reality around death and not milking it at the same time. As I said, death is a touchy subject and people will feel a certain way if you slip, whether it was intended or not.
Thus far, I don’t see Jo Ryeong-Soo falling into this issue, which is happy news because it means I can enjoy it a lot without feeling a certain type of way.
Some people say the drama is a bit too quiet or ‘boring,’ and while I understand that, for the most part, I am enjoying it. I will discuss this and ratings later but I understand the writing choices here so even when it drags a bit, I know why the screenwriter did it so I can’t bring myself to push hard on that part.
Meaning, some send offs take a bit too long, but I understand why the screenwriter does it.
However, I am not to keen on the 16-episode format. A part of me wishes this was only 10 episodes long, inevitably, the drama will slow down towards the second half. Since we’re talking about death, the screenwriter approach is similar to that of what you’d see in legal/medical/criminal dramas. As in, he takes one case at a time, but with death, it can be easily overdrawn and I know he knows this.
Lastly, the side plot about the gangsters who continue to harass Yoon Gyeo-Rye, many people have mixed feelings about it, but I also understand the writing decision here. Because if we eliminate that, the drama will lack any more ‘tension’ so to speak. This part is needed to push it towards an inevitable showdown, not to forget, Yoon Gyeo-Rye has ties to those people so to assume they’d just leave him be is a bit much.
But I do understand why some people feel it interrupts the flow. The screenwriter attempts at creating ‘tension’ do not work so far in my opinion because I know that a) team genie is too kind, b) Kang Tae-Sik is not as horrible as some out of context clips would have you believe, and c) the screenwriter needs the real tension to boil over later on, so I know it won’t happen now.
I’d say its about managing expectations. More on that below!
I am enjoying the characters so far, including the supporting ones. I like the writing for Yoon Gyeo-Rye. A part of him wants to be loved so bad but is so afraid of rejection and getting hurt. My heart aches for him knowing well that many orphans have similar fates like him. The system and society fails them. The fact that Ha Joon-Kyung was ruining him and pushing him to want to commit suicide but refuses to leave his side made me feel so bad for him.
Kang Tae-Sik is also very intriguing. Honestly, I can’t hate any Sung Dong-Il character, the ahjussi is so fun to watch, we love him here. I am not looking forward to having to say goodbye to his character.
I also like how forward Seo Yeon-Joo is, she cuts through the crap and gets straight to it. I can’t wait to see how their relationship progresses. I hope she remains straightforward and doesn’t take a backseat because of his lying ex-gf.
An unpopular opinion here but I honestly don’t hate the doctor character. Honestly, every criticism he levied at our genie team makes sense, he might have said it in a blunt manner but he’s more than within his right to express his thoughts on what they do, he is their doctor after all. Even people with the best intentions can cause harm to those around them, unintended of course. I also think in the future episodes, we’ll take a look at why that could be the case.
Since death is such a huge deal, dealing with it is not easy. This includes honoring the hospice patients as well as their caregivers and its not always easy and sometimes, they clash.
I am intrigued by Ha Joon-Kyung’s character and I hope we get to see more of her soon. Such a damaged character, I hope she finds healing, the screenwriter has the possibility to really transform her character, I hope she won’t be relegated to the role of the ex-crazy girlfriend and instead we get a deeper look at why she’s like that. I hope she finds purpose in life and we get to see her journey.
The performances in “If You Wish Upon Me” are great. I have no complaints about it. Wookie does a great job as per usual and ori Sung Dong-Il is always welcomed to our screen.
The last scenes of episode 8 of the drama really hammered in what I had previously known but was reminded of here again, Wookie is extremely talented. I guess this is why I got upset with the recent projects because I always felt he could do better. Here, he gets to show off his acting chops alongside a good story. I am so happy that this time the script isn’t butchered.
In regards to Sooyoung’s character, I feel she’s played this character at least twice before…. So while I like the performance, I feel she brings very similar energies and I would love it if she shakes it up in her next project by showing us something new.
Despite her limited screen time, Won Ji An is doing great. I feel she has a bright future ahead of her if she chooses good projects. She can become big with the right management and the right projects. She’s born in 1999 but looks a bit older than her real age, this means with different makeup and wardrobe, she can play a wide variety of characters. This gives her good space for future projects.
I also like Jeon Chae-Eun who plays the role of the teenager here. She also has a bright future ahead of her, so so talented. I really like her performances, one of the best teenage actors currently active in the industry. Her acting, especially around her eyes, is immaculate.
The low ratings and reception
If you’ve been following close along you’d know “If You Wish Upon Me” has not generated the buzz you’d expect from a Wookie drama. This is due to a variety of reasons mainly being the subject its about. Its a healing drama and generally speaking, such types of kdramas don’t do that well domestically in terms of ratings even if they generate rave reviews.
This is not a code for a terrible drama by any stretch of the imagination because its a slow healing drama. So far, I like the drama but I can totally understand why so many might not like it.
Aside from managing expectations, the subject is going to take its time. Its a slow-paced drama centered around hospice patients, so its going to be, at times, very slow. Added to that, the subjects it deals with are heavy, and if you’re in a negative head space, you might not want to watch this because you’d feel even worse. Sometimes, people watch dramas to escape reality, not be reminded of it. Some people also prefer fast-paced action or suspense dramas similarly to “Big Mouth.”
While I said I like the drama thus far, it also has the potential to stagnant. The dialogue and cases need to be immensely gripping throughout the second half for me to maintain the same opinion. Not that I am the sh*t or anything but some people some times message me wondering why I change my opinion between the first and second halves of dramas. The script is usually the reason why.
I wish the best for the cast and crew. And I hope the ratings get better with time, we still have potential for growth.