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Turkish Soap Operas Defy Old Balkan Biases January 17, 2011

Posted by Yilan in Turkey.
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In Bulgaria you’d better stay away from your granny, auntie, mom or a waitress in a local pub at 8 p.m. This is the time when heart-rending stories based on the patriarchal family life in Bulgaria’s southern neighbor Turkey that stir high emotions across the Balkans dominate the blue screen. From the northernmost Bulgarian village of Durankulak to Van, Turkey via Pristina to Saraevo, Belgrade and Zagreb Turkish TV series are a primetime hit.

 

Turkish film industry caters to all tastes, no one feels bored with its soppy serials.
In defiance of hatred to the Ottoman suppressors, deeply planted on the Balkans since the onset of the Turkish domination, the Bulgarians seem to have forgotten old biases and follow the Turkish melodramas as if chained to their TV sets. Greek psychologist Fotini Kalioglu explains this interest by the fact that all these sequels are based on a long exploited plot focused on family life. Love cobwebs similar to those of the Arabian Nights often start with a story of a poor but gifted girl who, of course, falls in love with her boss.
Soap operas should not be considered only as a profitable entertainment product. Gradually they are turning into an effective instrument of Turkish diplomacy. The policy pursued by Turkey’s foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu is based on the concept “We don’t have problems with the neighbouring countries.” Mr. Davutoglu often refers to the so-called ‘harmonious times’ of the Ottoman domination on the Balkans, which makes some observers talk of neo-Ottomanism. This raises uneasiness among Turkey’s neighbours, but at the same time the endless Turkish soap operas open the eyes of Bulgarians and Greeks to the mode of life in Turkey and helps them shake off the cliches associated with the ‘Ottoman domination’.  Religious differences and the old hostility seem to be uprooted and many common cultural and mentality characteristics are brought to light.

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