Turkish Dizi: a success story for Türkiye and its international position


Türkiye : a major exporter of TV series

According to a survey by Eurodata, Türkiye is the world’s second-best exporter of tv series after the United States and before South Korea. Its series or « Dizi » are aired in at least 150 countries, first in Eastern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, then extensively in Latin America. In Western Europe, Turkish series can lean on many people of Turkish descent to get good ratings. Some Turkish series are also aired on TV in Spain and Italy where Turkish TV series’ actors became big celebrities.

The export of Turkish series and movies in 2023 is predicted to exceed $1 billion.

The promotion of a certain Turkish way of life

Many series present a world of Turkish luxury, where actors are dressed with trendy, colorful and expansive outfits and play in prestigious houses and palaces by the Bosphorus. Each episode is sponsored by apparel manufacturers, mainly Turkish ones and ends with adverts for the brands staged during the show. Several Turkish industries have benefited from the development and the export of the Turkish film industries, including tourism, restaurants, Turkish cuisine, clothing and apparel, Turkish carpets and home furnishings. The series contribute to the purchase of a huge amount of goods.

The archetypal Turkish serie is a romance opposing a young partygoer and flirtatious boy from a respected, immensely rich and influent family and a modest young woman from a poor conservative family. It promotes a certain image of Türkiye: dynamic, open to good business oppurtunities but rooted in its Islamic values.

A problematic model

In recent years, several successful series, such as Istanbullu gelin (the bride from Istanbul), Kirmizi Oda (The red room), Ömer, Camdaki kiz (The girl in the window), Terzi (The tailor), yalin Capkini (The palace’s rascal) bear great resemblance. All of them tell the story of a prestigious, old family organised in a strict, authoritarian hierarchy and are presented as inspired by a true story. Domestic violence is systematic and depicted in details. Fathers beat their wife and daughters, lock them up in a cellar or even chain them, Grandfathers scream and humiliate their grandsons, brothers fights. This violence is normalised and even romanticized with a glamorous setting. It gives the impression that this family model is the norm and that it is acceptable to treat one another this way. All the more so as these stories are presented as inspired by true stories.

The truth is that these series are based on novels by the same author, Gülseren Budayıcıoğlu who is also a psychiatrist. Each of her novels draw inspiration from psychiatric cases. In other words what is depicted as desirable, normal, ancient order comes actually from anecdotes of neurotic cases medically treated by a psychiatrist. Viewers take unhealthy pleasure in it. With the success met, the series depict more and more violence and in great details.

Series are a great tool for Türkiye to promote its industries and its model on an international level. But the research for economic rentability lead to standardized caricatural productions at the expense of women rights and role in society.

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