Turks and Greeks come together, even if on TV screens
EMRAH GÜLER ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
TV producers in Turkey seem to be well-aware of the fact that including Greek culture and some Greek characters into their shows might be a way to delver further into the Greek market. Scene from 'The Foreign Groom.'“Greeks learn Turkish by watching TV series,” was the headline of a recent article in Hürriyet Daily News, alluding to the increasing popularity of Turkish series in Greece in the recent years. “Muhteşem Yüzyıl” (Magnificent Century), the historical drama about the court of Süleyman the Magnificent that is broadcast with the title “The Magnificent Suleiman” in Greece, and “Sıla” have been the most popular series in Greece this fall.
Another indication of the popularity of Turkish series in the neighboring country are the dozens of Facebook pages and groups with names like “Greek fans of Turkish series” or “Turkish series on Greek TV,” with pictures of Turkish heartthrobs like Kenan İmirzalıoğlu and Kıvanç Tatlıtuğ splashed over the pages. But perhaps the extent of the popularity of Turkish series can best be seen in some of the backlash in Greece. Thessaloniki Metropolitan Bishop Anthimos recently warned his followers, saying “No one should watch ‘Muhteşem Yüzyıl,’” the metropolitan said, according to daily Hürriyet. “By watching Turkish series, we tell them that we have surrendered.”
Similarly, Greek TV actress Nikoleta Karra sent an angry Twitter message last month to Greek channels for broadcasting Turkish series instead of Greek Cypriot ones. The popularity of “Sıla” was the object of Karra’s outrage. “’Sıla’ in the morning, ‘Sıla’ in the afternoon. ‘Sıla’ 24 hours a day. Enough! We’ve made so many shows in Greek Cyprus. Why won’t Greek channels air Greek Cypriot shows?” read her Twitter message.
While there may be some animosity against the ubiquity of Turkish series in Greece from a few nationalistic voices, the popularity is not fleeting given the similarity of two cultures. In fact, TV producers in Turkey seem to be well-aware of the fact that including Greek culture and some Greek characters into their shows might be a way to delver further into the Greek market.
Since the summer of 2005
The summer of 2005 was the time when history was made, when Turkish TV and Greek TV united in a bond of matrimony. It was the summer when the Turkish series “Yabancı Damat” (The Foreign Groom) was aired for the first time on Greek TV.
“Yabancı Damat” (aired as “Ta sinora tis agapis” in Greece, translating as “The Borders of Love”) was a love story between a young Greek man, Niko, and a young Turkish woman, Nazlı. The series took place on the two sides of the Aegean and played on the conceptions, misconceptions, and prejudices of Turks and Greeks against one another, mostly through comedy. The use of locations and music from both countries, as well as the clever use of the historic Turco-Greek antagonism, made the series a huge hit in both countries, and shot its leading actors, Özgür Çevik and Nehir Erdoğan, into stardom in Turkey and its neighbors.
The three seasons saw the couple marry, name their son Ege (Aegean), and have its supporting characters, even the die-hard nationalist ones, from the two countries fall for one another.
Two Sides, One İsmail
In another attempt to revive the ever-successful theme of intercultural love, albeit in a more twisted way, another series debuted last summer. “2 Yaka Bir İsmail” (Two Sides, One İsmail) had its protagonist, a Turkish fisherman between the Turkish town of Ayvalık on Aegean and the nearby Greek island of Lesbos (Midilli in Turkish), have amnesia and fall for two women from both sides.
“My heart is torn between Kaliope and Hacer,” blurted the tagline. Unlike “Yabancı Damat,” the series brought together actors from both Turkey and Greece. Veteran Greek stage actors like Keti Papanika, as well as popular names from Greece like Eleni Filini, starred opposite famous actors from Turkey such as Erdal Özyağcılar.
The success of “Yabancı Damat,” combined with the high ratings of the historical drama “Muhteşem Yüzyıl” in Greece, brought forth another project hoping to draw in audiences not only from Turkey, but from Greece and other Balkan countries as well. The recent “Son Yaz Balkanlar 1912” (Last Summer Balkans 1912) takes a look at the struggles of the populations of Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro under Ottoman rule as they head toward the Balkan Wars of 1912 and 1913. The series is written by the famed scribe Kürşat Başar.
Both Turkish and Greek audiences are waiting for yet another TV production, a documentary series. Ready to close production, “Muhteşem Yolculuk” (The Amazing Journey) brings together Maria Ekmekçioğlu, an Istanbul Greek gourmet chef, and Turkish director Erdal Murat Aktaş as they journey from Istanbul, along the Aegean coast in both countries, and end in Athens. The showwill compare both cultures, from history to food and music. It seems to be a time for peace for the neighboring countries, at least on TV screens.