The female-driven plots that Turkish TV is known for as well as its customary history, family and crime tropes — spiced with a snappier pace and new supernatural storylines — are the main elements of the fresh crop of Turkish dramas ready to conquer global audiences, and continue the pop culture phenomenon that has made Turkey the world’s second-largest TV content exporter after the U.S.
The following is a compendium of standout Turkish TV series in various stages, some of which will be shopped at MIPTV.
Making a splash after its November launch at MipCancun, this fast-paced social drama about a widowed mother of four struggling with extreme poverty has already sold to the U.S. Hispanic market among other territories. Produced by Koliba Film, it’s been a solid performer on Turkey’s ATV, where it started airing last June.
“Mehmed the Conqueror”
Unveiled at Mipcom last year before airing in March on Kanal D in Turkey, this high-end period drama boasts one of the biggest budgets in the country’s TV history and mines Ottoman history as so many Turkish dramas have already, this time looking at Sultan Mehmed II, who, in 1453 at age 21, conquered Constantinople (today’s Istanbul), ending the Eastern Roman Empire. That conquest marked the beginning of a new era for the region, and the world. This show, produced by 03 Medya, promises to take the quality of Turkish TV to a new level.
This mob and family drama from Ay Yapim follows the vicissitudes of the Kocovar clan that has long ruled the dangerous Istanbul neighborhood of Cukur. Their youngest son, who was in exile, returns and finds himself enmeshed in a war with another mob family. “The Pit,” which is full of unexpected plot twists, has seen its ratings soar to a more than 30% share on Show TV in Turkey.
“Prisoner of Love”
In this romantic drama, two young couples are both brought together by unromantic individual struggles. In one case, an arranged short-term marriage, in the other a need for protection from the mob. Produced by Karamel Yapim, “Prisoner” is in its second season in Turkey where, after a solid first season on state broadcaster TRT, it moved to top commercial network Star TV. It’s become the top performing daily drama in the late-afternoon slot. A third season has been commissioned for later this year, which will see the series extend beyond 600 episodes.
This glossy new show from Turkish powerhouse Ay Yapim is about three childhood friends who unexpectedly reunite with a fourth at the funeral of a teacher. The trio had played a cruel and shaming teenage prank on the fourth out of jealously of her beauty and smarts, forcing her to leave town. The reunion causes old scores to be settled and new rivalries to be sparked. This female revenge drama premiered in late October on Star TV in Turkey, where it’s been scoring strong ratings.
Still-Untitled Turkish Netflix Original
Principal photography started in March in Istanbul on this 10-episode superhero fantasy that weaves Ottoman history, action tropes and supernatural elements. Produced by O3 Medya, it toplines Cagatay Ulusoy as a young man who discovers he has superpowers and must defend Istanbul from dark forces. Netflix plans a global launch on its platform this year.
“Sultan of My Heart”
Co-produced by Russia’s KIT Film Studio, which is part of Gazprom Media, and Turkey’s Maya Prods., this lavish 24-part series is described in promotional materials as a combination of spy thriller and melodrama. Set in 1920s Turkey, it centers on Russian diplomats and their families in post-World War I Turkey. The main characters are Anna, the daughter of a Russian embassy employee, and 19th century Ottoman sultan Mahmud II in a supernatural twist on a love story. American director Bobby Roth, known for “Lost” and “Prison Break,” has been hired as creative supervisor. It will air on Russia’s largest television network, Channel One. A Turkish broadcaster is not yet attached.