The Strongest Asset of Turkish TV Series has Returned to The Screen: Powerful Women

 The Strongest Asset of Turkish TV Series has Returned to The Screen: Powerful Women

The psychological drama genre, which once dominated Turkish TV series, had to be replaced by other productions over time. With wars, economic crises, political issues and natural disasters engulfing this century, audience ratings indicate that people seek stories of hope and empowerment featuring women discovering their own strength.

Turkish TV series has been saturated with dark narratives for quite some time. The focus on pain, tears, trauma, violence, revenge, toxic relationships, lack of love, verbal and physical violence was raining down on us like a downpour. While we are getting drenched in these, the emphasis on “Based on a true story” adds a layer of unwelcome realism.

As the characters of the series lose their mental health, the audience is not left out and start empathising. The portrayal of female strength often gets muddled, blurring the lines between true empowerment and dependence on men.While many viewers found the situation increasingly vexing, a TV channel seemed to fulfill this audience demand three months ago.

‘I am Mother’ Came From a Familiar Place

The arrival of Karsu on the screen in I am Mother carries a symbolic weight. Her name, meaning “snow water” in Turkish, hints at a thawing of a frozen situation. Perhaps it’s a sign of hope for better days to come, mirroring the lead actress’s name “Spring” from Blooming Lady. Karsu came to the screen from the most familiar place, as a woman who was deceived.

As for the plot; Karsu marries Reha, who is older than her and offers a way out of a stifling childhood home and moves to Adana. Initially, motherhood brings joy, especially with the birth of Tılsım. Moreover, her husband Reha is so selfish that becoming a mother is like alvation for her in order to survive in that house. After Tılsım, Karsu gives birth to Kuzey and finally Selin comes into the family… They continue their life as a wealthy family in Adana.

‘I am Mother’

However, the arrival of Selin exacerbates Kuzey’s jealousy, wearing down Karsu… Her husband Reha, on the other hand, does not want to listen to his child and only concerned with his sleep. Karsu asks her mother Filiz, a beauty enthusiast whom she does not trust at all, to take Kuzey to Istanbul. Filiz loses Kuzey on the way out of Adana and this rich family, which looks happy from the outside, starts to fall apart.

Resorted to Physical Violence

Karsu’s relentless search for Kuzey spans three years. During this time Reha starts cheating on Karsu with her best friend. Reha’s selfishness gets so out of hand that Reha even says, “Why don’t you take care of me and look for our missing son!” When Karsu finds her son Kuzey on her own, she catches her husband Reha kissing his best friend.

After that moment, she takes her three children and leaves Adana. He resorts to verbal abuse in an attempt to control Karsu. Failing that, he employs financial violence, effectively cutting her off from their affluent lifestyle. Karsu, who has never worked in her life and has no income other than her husband’s credit cards, ends up in Istanbul with her three children, with no money… She is forced to move in with her mother Filiz, whom she has not been in touch with since she lost her son.

The Strongest Asset of Turkish TV Series

Then begins the story of Karsu, who became a strong woman with a man’s surname and money, becoming stronger just because she is Karsu. Karsu works as a cleaner or a shopping assistant. But she finds a way to survive with her children. Moreover, she survives by resisting her ex-husband who is physically violent against her.

The works in which women notice and, most importantly, accept their own strength are the strongest asset of Turkish TV series. The woman, who does not have an idea about herself at the beginning, turns into someone completely different as she realises the strength within her. A woman who manages to be both strong and compassionate, becomes a source of inspiration all over the world.

Karsu is one of those figures! She has just met herself and every episode she welcomes the woman that she is by saying, “Nice to meet you, Karsu”. We enjoy watching a woman stand up to all difficulties but maintain her motherly compassion.

Karsu appeared on the screen and immediately made her influence felt. The character of Meryem, whom we watched in the Red Roses.

Meryem and Zeynep in ‘Red Roses’

Meryem is a very strong character who was married off into a cult at a young age, became a mother before the age of 18, and thought her daughter was dead. She tries to find ways to prevent her intelligent daughter from living the same fate, even trying to smuggle her daughter out of the country. An outsider might see her as weak, but her real strength lies in her ability to stand up to all the hardships, the religious structure, and the narrow-minded people. That’s why the audience welcomed this strong woman on screen, saying “Welcome, you are a blessing.” And the ratings showed it.

Bahar’s Distinctive Sign

Strong women have a domino effect. After these two strong women, this time Blooming Lady came to the screen. She didn’t bend or break but came straight. The Turkish TV series started airing on a Tuesday evening and the next morning everyone was talking about Blooming Lady. The ratings had already reached double digits in the second episode… Its rivals easily gave up the top spot to Blooming Lady

What was Bahar’s distinguishing feature? First of all, it was the actress. Demet Evgar is undeniably one of the best actresses in Türkiye. She has given amazing performances in both drama and comedy. And she is very good at playing comedy out of the most painful moments! That’s why we are glued to the screen watching her in Blooming Lady.

Bahar, despite having a medical degree, never practiced medicine due to becoming a mother after graduation. She is very fond of her children and takes on most household responsibilities, shouldering a burden that her husband Timur and her mother-in-law does not share.

A successful surgeon, Timur remains emotionally distant, even sleeping in a separate room. Financially dependent on him, Bahar resorts to forced optimism, using a facade of positivity to cope with her circumstances. Until one day she faints and has to be hospitialised.

Brought Deep Happiness to The Women

Bahar’s life crumbles when she’s diagnosed with liver failure and needs a transplant urgently. Despite being successful surgeon, her husband Timur prioritizes his lover Rengin, who works at the same hospital as him, and refuses to get Bahar treated there. Shockingly, tests reveal Timur as the only compatible donor, but he rejects saving his wife, even ignoring their children’s pleas. Thankfully, a stranger becomes Bahar’s savior. This brush with death shatters Bahar’s facad of forced optimism. Reclaiming her life, she throws herself into studying to become a doctor again. She sheds her role as a domestic servant, treating herself to designer clothes and luxuries she always denied herself, using Timur’s credit card as a form of payback for years of unpaid emotional labor. When Timur confronts her, Bahar asserts her worth, reminding him of her years of selfless service and demanding compensation for her sacrifices.

We Watch with a Smile on

Despite a smile plastered on her face, Bahar wasn’t content. She pursued and secured a position as an assistant doctor at her husband’s very hospital. This brought Bahar, her husband Timur, his mistress Rengin, their son Aziz Uras, and Bahar’s doctor Evren under one roof. The quiet, seemingly docile Bahar sent a clear message – she would thrive there too. Remarkably, this story unfolded without violence, displays of toxic masculinity, or melodramatic tears. Instead, we watched, smiles gracing our faces, as a woman rose to fight through her pain. Even the exploration of motherhood’s complexities brought us to tears, all without resorting to emotional manipulation.

Turkish TV Series Gave Inspiration

The new season of Blooming Lady offers a powerful message of hope, and its success reflects a larger trend in Turkish TV series. Turkish TV series have become a global phenomenon being the 3rd country exporting TV series worldwide. A major reason for this is their portrayal of strong women.

turkish TV series
‘Blooming Lady’

Initially, these shows presented strength in a way that could be masculine. Over time, however, they’ve evolved to depict a more nuanced strength that is both powerful and compassionate. This resonates deeply with audiences, especially women, who see characters like Karsu, Bahar, and Meryem as inspiring figures overcoming adversity. Hopefully, these characters will continue to empower women to rise above their challenges and discover their own inner strength.

This article was written by Oya Doğan and was published in our MIPTV 2024 issue. Follow this link to access the issue.


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