* This review contains spoilers for Episode 1 of Daily Dose of Sunshine
The new K-drama series Daily Dose of Sunshine shines a light on the often-misunderstood world of psychiatric care. The Netflix drama is based on a webtoon by former nurse Lee Ra-Ha, and follows the story of Jung Da-Eun, a nurse who transitions from internal medicine to the psychiatric ward. Through her experiences, viewers are taken on a journey filled with empathy, humor and the raw realities of mental illnesses.
Episode 1: The Darkest Hour Is Before Dawn
We are introduced to Da-Eun (Park Bo-Young) on her first day at the psychiatric ward. On her way to work, she notices a man staring at his hands and talking to himself. Unsure about his strange behavior, Da-Eun moves away from him.
At the hospital, she immediately gets ready for the ward. Her superior Song Hyo-Shin (Lee Jung-Eun) shows her around the ward. From this interaction, we get an idea about the safety measures in place. This includes how nurses are discouraged from wearing items that patients can use to harm themselves.
Da-Eun is also introduced to her new colleagues. Wen have head nurse Park Soo-Yeon (Lee Sang-Hee), and fellow nurses Min Deul-Re (Lee Yi-Dam) and Hong Jeong-Ran (Park Ji-Yeon). She also meets the ward psychiatrists, which include her childhood friend Hwang Yeo-Hwan (Jang Ryul). The two appear to have an antagonistic relationship.
The most unusual patient
One of the psychiatrists, Kong Cheol-Woo (Im Jae-Hyuk) meets a new patient who turns out to be the strange man on the bus. The man believes he may have OCD, as he cannot stop cracking the joints of his hands. He claims that the cracking has made his fingers “too large”, and that others “hate him” for it.
Cheol-Woo suggests a few alternatives the patient can use to distract himself, but nothing seems to work. The patient keeps showing up at the hospital to bother Cheol-Woo, much to his dismay. Eventually Cheol-Woo (who suffers from a bad case of hemorrhoids throughout the episode) goes to see his new proctologist.
To his shock, his new doctor turns out to be the patient, Dong Go-Yun (Yeon Woo-Jin). He then discovers the real reason why the proctologist is worried about his “too large” fingers.
Too much pressure
Da-Eun’s first patient is Oh Ri-Na (Cha Mi-Kyung), a wealthy woman who has bipolar disorder and who experiences delusions. Da-Eun makes her first mistake by accidentally contradicting Ri-Na’s delusion. A distraught Ri-Na strikes Da-Eun, and runs around the ward, stripping naked and dancing. Da-Eun is shocked by the experience, and later meets with Yeo-Hwan to learn more about Ri-Na’s case, and about the disorder itself.
During their dinner, they encounter another childhood friend Song Yu-Chan (Jang Dong-Yoon), who works as a deliveryman for his family’s chicken shop. Yeo-Hwan quickly escapes, leaving Da-Eun to chat Yu-Chan.
Eventually, we learn that Ri-Na has been feeling stifled throughout her life by her ambitious mother. Her mother dictated all her actions from her childhood, leaving Ri-Na with no real sense of her own identity. During one of Da-Eun’s conversations with Yu-Chan, she likens the situation to a duck being forced to be a swan. Yu-Chan points out that all the praise for her swan-like beauty means nothing if she never wanted to be a swan in the first place.
Inspired by this, Da-Eun asks Ri-Na’s mother to support her daughter’s decision to live her own life. Ri-Na’s mother agrees, and both mother and daughter take steps to repair their relationship as Ri-Na continues her treatment.
Nothing is as it seems
Da-Eun also has an interaction with another patient Kim Seo-Wan (Roh Jae-Won) who has delusions that he is a character in a video game. She brings him to an appointment with his proctologist Go-Geun, and her kind and gentle nature immediately causes Go-Yun to be attracted to her.
At the end of the episode, Da-Eun overhears a conversation between Hyo-Shin and her former boss. She learns that she was transferred to the psychiatric ward because she was a “nuisance” to the other nurses, a fact which shocks her.
What we thought
Episode 1 of Daily Dose of Sunshine was an informative and emotional introduction to the world of psychiatric care. We got an insight into the challenges faced by the nurses and doctors, as well as those faced by the patients. CGI is used during certain scenes, such as when Ri-Na is at the height of her delusion. Moments like this let us into the patient’s world, helping us understand just what they go through, and how difficult it is for them to break out of it.
Park Bo-Young goes a great job portraying Da-Eun’s multi-faceted character. She is kind and empathetic towards patients, but still has moments of annoyance and anger when being teased by her childhood friends. Nonetheless, we still get a sense that she will do anything to help her patients, and it will be interesting to see how she deals with the complex situations on the ward.