I feel the need to preface this piece by saying that I don’t consider myself a “romcom type of girl”. I’m rarely excited to see a movie of this genre. More often than not, I find myself being incredibly skeptical and prejudiced against what you would call an “average” romantic comedy. The plots are predictable, the acting is mediocre, and you get the “Happily Ever After” in an hour and thirty flat. That’s an easy pass for me. I’d rather spend my time reading a great love story or rewatching a Jane Austen adaptation for the thousandth time. Lately, however, I find myself being incredibly fascinated and invested in a romantic comedy Turk Dizi called Erkenci Kus.
What is “Turk Dizi” you might ask? Strictly translated, it means Turkish television series. Some may classify them as soap operas; my own husband calls them my “telenovelas”. Yet this phenomenon has caught my attention to such a degree that I have crossed over into a community of fandom that can only be rivaled by Trekkies and Potterheads. Frankly, we may even be worse.
It all started with a recommendation. Some ladies in a Facebook group I am a part of started chatting about this Turkish show, Erkenci Kus [ar-ken-jee koosh]. Being utterly ignorant, I had zero context to warn me what I was about to encounter when I decided just to see what on earth a Turkish show would be like. I found a subtitled copy of the first episode, and thus the madness ensued. I was suddenly enthralled by the lives of Can (pronounced like "John") and Sanem.
To be completely honest, I started watching with skepticism. The lead actor is super muscled with a man bun and the first scene is a singing, dancing, Bollywood-esque moment, which was altogether different from what is typical to me as an American. As I watched the lead actress sing and dance, I thought this scene was cute, but I didn’t really know what to make of it in the context of the show. Yet, after watching the first episode, meeting the main characters, laughing as Sanem interacted with her quirky friends and family, and gasping at the major twist ending on just the first episode, the struggle was over.
It took this romcom hater just one week. ONE WEEK. In one week, I had completely binged all of the episodes that had previously aired. I was addicted. Have I mentioned that the usual run-time for these Turkish shows is over 2 hours... PER EPISODE? That should give you a better idea of the level of obsession that I have fallen into, people. I have tried to figure out what it is, exactly, that has led me down this dizi hole. There are many things that American television has done incredibly well, especially in what some might consider the golden age of television that we are currently in. Yet, the world of Sanem and Can is so enthralling and the two of them are definitely at the root of it.
Many on-screen couples get lauded or ridiculed about their chemistry while shooting scenes together. Often times, this can make or break the believability of the relationship we are being asked to buy into. And guys, Can and Sanem have absolutely the best chemistry I have ever seen in my life. Yes, that’s a dramatic statement. Yes, that’s a true statement. Due to censorship currently in place in Turkey, shows are required to do things like blur out blood, alcohol, and an on-screen kiss will result in the show receiving a fine. Within the first 10 episodes, the main love interests have only 1 short, shadowed kiss, which seems almost absurd compared to American TV. Yet, I caught myself physically holding my breath while I was watching these two act in scenes together. The romantic tension is insanely palpable! The SUPER slow burn of their relationship plus family subterfuge, surprisingly great physical comedy, hilarious side characters, and love-to-hate villains, and you’ve got the recipe for an addictive show. It WILL suck you in. And I haven’t even mentioned how beautiful the leading couple is, both inside and out. Heart eyes all around, y’all. They are the sweetest.
So, only weeks into my fandom, I jumped all in. I joined a new Facebook subgroup specifically dedicated to English speakers who adore this lovely little show. I started following the cast on social media. I found popular twitter accounts who often talked about the show and translate clips. I suddenly found myself adding Turkish on my Duolingo account to better help myself understand this language that I now NEEDED to learn. I started planning my first trip to Istanbul. I was emotionally invested in these characters, this family, and there was no turning back.
The rest, as they say, is history. I now spend a good deal of my free time chatting with my other dizi lovers online. We share other show and movie recommendations, laugh over translation mishaps, dissect episodes and plot lines, and commiserate when the writers upset our sensibilities with things like perfume-gate (if you saw Episode 26, you’ll understand). I have absolutely fallen in love with this little niche world of entertainment, and have no plans of turning back anytime soon. If you'd like to join the dark side, send me a tweet and I'll happily point you in the right direction.