If You Wish Upon Me has an interesting premise – a man with a troublesome past becomes a part of a group that grants the last wishes of hospice patients. From that alone, one could expect a character-driven storyline and scenes that would evoke buckets of tears and ponder about life while tackling death. The series gladly delivered all of these and a whole lot more like heartwarming friendships and standout special appearances.
This 16-episode drama is bittersweet yet comforting. Some of its subplots might be similar to other melodramas out there but it has its own strengths. Let me highlight them for you in this edition of “The Best Of”!
The main premise of If You Wish Upon Me revolves around a team granting terminal-ill patients their last wishes. The said team is composed of unique characters who are interesting in their own way and makes the wish-granting subplots entertaining to watch. Leading them is mysterious Kang Tae-sik (Sung Dong-il) who is empathetic to the patient’s stories and does what he can to grant them. He is also the first person who believes Yoon Gyeo-rye (Ji Chang-wook) can be part of Team Genie and trusts him enough to bequeath everything to him. Also part of the Team Genie is Seo Yeon-joo (Choi Soo-young), a nurse at the hospice who is a tough cookie and clashed with Gyeo-rye at first but she was eventually the first person to understand where Gyeo-rye’s “hot-headedness” was coming from.
The rest of the genies Yeom Soon-ja (Yang Hee-kyeong), Yeo Seo-jin (Jeon Chae-eun), Choi Deok-ja (Gil Ha-yeon), and Hwang Cha-young (Yoo Soon-woong) were also given some airtime to show their character’s stories. It was bittersweet to think that those granting other people’s wishes have their own personal wishes that they want to someday happen. The series was really good in delivering those tearjerker moments with Team Genie and how they balanced it out with heartwarming and fun scenes with them.
Yoon Gyeo-rye’s archetype is that of a misunderstood character with a tragic backstory. But what’s important with this type of character is how they would change as the story progresses. And Gyeo-rye’s character development is one of those well-written ones in recent dramas. The changes in him happened at the right pace and were shown one episode after another. His moments with Sonny were the sweetest in the drama. His reflections after Team Genie’s mission showed how poignant the storyline of this series is.
Gyeo-rye and Yeon-joo
Even though I’m a romance enthusiast, I didn’t exactly expect romance in this drama. But when the show started developing the relationship between Gyeo-rye and Yeon-joo through a romantic lens, I was all for it. The romance is really just subtle and didn’t overpower the main story. In fact, Gyeo-rye and Yeon-joo’s romantic relationship was woven through the main plot and the substories in each episode. Their bickering at the start of the series became a staple source of chuckle that eventually became a happy squeal when I realized this is actually an fr/enemies-to-lovers trope.
Accompanying its sad moments and even the happy ones were songs that amped up the emotional impact of those scenes. The soundtrack for this series includes songs from Soo-young and Taeyeon!
The Village Ending
One of the reasons why this series would be worth watching from start to finish is its ending. The village for dementia patients shown in the ending is inspired by a real-life facility in The Netherlands. It was touching to see that there is a place that can still make living look and feel normal for those with that condition. It also felt like a great culmination of Team Genie’s mission of giving comfort to those who are at the end of their lives.
If You Wish Upon Me’s story may not feel new to melodrama enthusiasts but it is a true healing drama that has a great storytelling and emotive performance from its cast. It carefully dealt with the subject of death and delivered its thematic message about forgiveness, living without regret, and valuing one’s life no matter how difficult things are.