Turkish TV dramas continue to click around the world thanks to their well-honed storylines with primal themes, a slower pace, and a more humanist feel than most Hollywood shows.
“It’s usually female-centric stories,” says Izzet Pinto, CEO of sales company Global Agency. “Basic [themes] of love, intrigue, relationships, family issues.” Pinto points out that the narratives always weave a main storyline with two secondary strands, which is “what gets people hooked.” But though the bulk of dizi, as the shows are known locally, are still melodramas, new genres are bursting forth prompted in part by the online streaming phenomenon. They testify the talent, originality and creative vibrancy of Turkey’s TV community.
The following is a compendium of recent Turkish TV drama standouts, several of which will launch internationally at Mipcom.
In this crime series from Turkish network ATV and produced by Fark Film, a young man infiltrates the Turkish mob after his brother is killed. He gains the boss’ trust, and must then navigate treacherous waters. Meryem Uzerli, the mega-star of Turkey’s game-changing “Magnificent Century” skein, stars in the second season.
(Tears of Heaven)
Eccho Rights, which recently set up an outpost in Seoul, will launch the Turkish redo of Korean skein “Tears of Heaven” in Cannes, produced by Surec Films for ATV.
City of Secrets
This gritty drama is about an undercover government agent on a mission to take down an Istanbul mob boss, but falls for his daughter. It reunites Turkish megastar Erkan Petekkaya with director Cevdet Mercan, following “Broken Pieces,” 2016’s top-exported Turkish drama. It is produced by Karga Seven Pictures for Fox Turkey, which is planning a splashy Cannes launch.
Endless Love (pictured)
Romancer about a young artist forced into a marriage in order to save her brother from going to jail is the first Turkish TV series nominated for an International Emmy in the best series category; produced by Ay Yapim.
Mehmed the Conqueror
One of the most ambitious productions spawned by the Kanal D powerhouse, this show mines Ottoman history once again, this time in the form of Sultan Mehmed II, who, in 1453 at age 21, conquered Constantinople (today’s Istanbul), ending the Eastern Roman Empire. Kanal D is launching the show in Cannes prior to its December playdate in Turkey.
Produced by Surec Films, “Bride” is about a young woman from the city who marries the heir of an Anatolian tribe and goes to live with his family, where she is expected to act as a maid. After scoring stellar ratings this spring, “Bride” has been renewed for a second season, which started airing in September.
Groundbreaking OTT original about a celebrity psychiatrist who is a compulsive womanizer has been a massive hit on Turkey’s new Puhu TV platform, scoring 12 million unique viewers this spring for its first season. More than 20% of Turkey’s Internet-connected population tuned in to the series. Produced by Ay Yapim, season two will soon launch in Turkey.
Centered around the life of Ertugrul Bey, the father of Osman Bey, who was the 13th century founder of the Ottoman Empire, the show is steeped in Turkish nationalism. It has been leading Turkish TV ratings on pubcaster TRT, which also produced and has sold it to some 60 territories.
Tales of Innocence — Meryem
An adaptation of hit Korean drama “Secret Love,” “Meryem” revolves around a young woman who takes the blame for a hit-and-run committed by her prosecutor boyfriend. Produced by TMC Films, it scored solid ratings on Kanal D and bolstered the contention that Korean adaptations can gain traction in Turkey.
Untitled First Netflix Turkish Original
Weaving Ottoman history, action tropes and supernatural elements, this show, produced by O3 Medya, toplines Turkish star Cagatay Ulusoy as a young man who discovers he has powers and must defend Istanbul from dark forces.