Turkish author and poet Yahya Kemal once defined Turks as people who read Masnavi and eat pilav (rice). Since the date of his decisive statement, our culinary habits did not change much but what we read (or as the times go, watch) did change drastically. The ritual of reading Masnavi and other classics aloud on long winter nights may be lost, - but as habits rather prefer to change form than to fade out - watching TV shows took its place. Long gone are the Turks who go to bed soon after Isha prayer, now they love to stay up late and watch their favorite TV shows together with their families. Turkish TV shows usually take at least two to three hours to watch, which means a whole night of easy entertainment for Turkish families, and a smooth way out for TV channels as they don't need to provide more than one show per night. However, these shows are not mere entertainment. Much to the intellectuals' chagrin, they have an enormous impact on people which necessitate a great care to be taken when putting together a show - at least in principle.
It wouldn't be an exaggeration to claim that Turkish TV shows do not usually care to make such efforts; however, "Sen Anlat Karadeniz" (You Tell, Black Sea), tackling the formidable subject of domestic violence, stands above other shows for not only aiming to set exemplary characters and behavior patterns for difficult situations but also for its courage and determination to grapple with social and cultural problems. It has everything in abundance: the brutality of domestic violence, the sweet innocence of newly budding romance, strong family bonds, comedy factor, and steady character development and a multilayered depth and purpose to make the viewers aware of problems women are still facing when dealing with domestic violence, forced relationships and marriages, raising a kid alone under social pressure.
The show also reminds the viewer of the golden era of old Turkish TV shows, when every main character is more or less likable, when the family bonds and doing the right thing are of utmost importance, when genuine, warm and cozy feelings emanated watching the shows, and finally, when women get their independence and stand on their own feet, well, eventually.
Another interesting aspect of the show is its capitalizing the characteristics of Northern people of Turkey. Just like Dr. Who telling Rose that lots of planets have a north, lots of countries have a north where people tend to be moodier and more stubborn than rest of the population with an adorably attractive accent. Black Sea region of Turkey is no different.
"Sen Anlat Karadeniz" is about a young woman, who has been a victim of most vicious sort of domestic violence and who then manages to escape continuous rape and domestic violence after 8 years and 22 attempts. Nefes (Breath) is a fresh breath of air, indeed. Her raw beauty strikes the heart of the viewer. Her abuser Vedat demands her to wear make up all the time, mostly to cover up her bruises, and after she escapes she is pointedly refuses to wear any make up. Just like she refuses to marry Vedat, refusing to launder his crimes, refusing because it is the only time where she can say no to him that counts, the only place where Vedat's word is not the law and her consent is required. This is rather unconventional approach is promising. It states that the show is about Nefes' feelings, her perception and thoughts from her point of view.
Thus the show makes one thing clear from the beginning: It handles matters in the least expected way. Abuse, domestic violence, society's expectation of obedience from women, the matter of consent, maintaining healthy relationships after rape, religious issues regarding relationships, marriage and consent, the purity and the past of the oppressed, bigotry towards unmarried women with children... All the matters that stain the society's conscience are discussed. No issue is too delicate to deal with, if an issue is sensitive, then it is attended without hesitation but with kindness. The way the scriptwriters are dealing with Nefes's child, Yiğit's being a child of rape is a good example of this. "Sen Anlat Karadeniz" tells its story without fear, with ferocity, never pulling back its punches, never stopping questioning the judgments and prejudices of the society.
HOPE IN DESPAIR
Nefes is not a damsel in distress waiting to be rescued by a hero, contrary to all she has been through. She is resilient, and always hopeful for the future. Her resistance to feel despair is what makes Tahir fall in love with her. She is level-headed, sensible but she is not someone to be walked over, not by anyone, not by Vedat her oppressor of 8 years, not by Tahir who thinks love means doing what is right by his beloved no matter what her opinion might be, certainly not by Dogvillesque village people who do not approve of Tahir's love since Nefes is a "widow" with a child whereas Tahir is an unmarried young man.
Tahir is Nefes's equivalent. His is love at first sight. However, after that infamous first sight, as he thinks Nefes is Vedat's wife, he determinedly takes his eyes off of her, never staring at her again since it is against his code of honor to look at another man's wife. Most probably this is the reason why he is the only one among his family who notices she has bruises all over her hand and arm, and asks her about it. He is a hot-headed man of complex and somewhat ancient principles, and has very decisive opinions about how a man should behave. His attitude towards Nefes and her son has nothing short of devotion, even if in a tempered way. More importantly, all for his heroic ado, when he is in wrong, he can see and accept his fault and apologize for it. In that aspect, he is as refreshing as Nefes is.
When he realizes the turmoil she is in, Tahir dedicates his life to Nefes without any expectations from her whatsoever. His compassion is regularly highlighted during the show. He is a man who loves profoundly, but rarely touches the woman he loves if she doesn't take the initiative and occasionally he resists those steps she takes if he feels she forces herself to take those steps instead of willingly doing it. "I love your optimism," he says, "I know how it helped you to cope with the hell you were in. But, you don't have to pretend with me, don't pretend on my behalf, that you don't have wounds when you do. Let me see, let me heal your wounds, instead." He vows that he won't give her his consent for pursuing a relationship with him, not until her soul is completely healed. Theirs is the courtly love at its best.
FIGHT FOR LOVE
Nefes is likewise ready to die and kill for him, taking bullets aimed for Tahir or attempting to kill Vedat for trying to kill Tahir. She may be his great love, calming him with a word or making him cancel his plans which no one else has managed to do before, but all she has been through at the hands of Vedat, when it comes to love, she gives back as good as she takes. He is resilience and she is hope.
However, their love is not a rose garden. They can fight bravely with the enemies outside but when they fight with each other, it is devastating. At the final episode of the first season, Nefes learns at what cost Tahir is protecting her, and is not ok with the prospect. She declares that he is a great hero but not a good husband material and that she'll leave him after they manage to escape from the last disaster they encountered. Turkish TV shows are littered with men with hero complexes. Nefes's attitude is a rare criticism of their high-handed manners.
Vedat and Nefes are in an abusive relationship where Vedat beats, systematically tortures and rapes Nefes.
Vedat is the abuser who witnessed abuse caused by his father, as well as being victim of his abuse. His ordeal is not relatable nor his actions are justifiable but at least, to some extent, the root of his evilness is comprehensible. That's indeed a relief in this current world of unnecessary and unperceivable evil. If Vedat ever has a redeeming quality, it is this: He never touches his children in anger. Although he uses disproportionate force against Nefes to make her admit defeat and submit to him, he never hits his children.
The secondary characters of "Sen Anlat Karadeniz" are as complex as the leads. Osman Hodja, the highly respected imam of the village and the father-in-law of Tahir's elder brother, is the focal point of the show. His acts defy the notions and prejudices of the society. He accepts Nefes to his home when the village sees her as a scarlet woman, he loves and protects her like a real father, talks with her to boost her morale, firming her belief in God through hope. He urges people to be knowledgeable about religion, not to confuse some faulty assumptions with actual religious principles. During his sermons, he corrects the misconceptions of the society concerning several religious matters quite eloquently. He warns people against gossiping, he tells a man off who claims God allows men to beat their wives, when everyone protest Tahir and Nefes's getting married, he reminds them of the Prophet's first wive Hatice's being a widow as well and warns them they would offend the Prophet and his wife if they scorn the marriage between a widow and a bachelor.
Whether they are good or bad, nearly everyone has strong characters in the show, especially women. The best example is Asiye, the wife of Tahir's elder brother Mustafa. Asiye is intelligent and courageous, she never hesitates to help and protect Nefes. Her love for her husband is obvious, but when she finds out he delivers Nefes's son to his father in return for Tahir's life, she leaves him without hesitation and gives him hell for this betrayal of founding principles. Mustafa is nearly as good as his wife, he knows he made a grave mistake and allows himself to be reprimanded harshly by his wife, repents and readily pays the consequences of his deeds. All of which are rare qualities to be seen on a man at a Turkish TV show.
"Sen Anlat Karadeniz" especially emphasizes the importance of going to the police and filing reports against domestic violence as well as the necessity of seeking professional help in cases of psychological traumas. In the instances Nefes or other victims of domestic violence file a report against their attackers, police and the law are behind them, protecting them. Likewise when they seek professional help, go to a psychiatrist for example, they find out that they deal with their problems a lot easier. But when they don't appeal to the law or seek professional help, the consequences are worse.
However, "Sen Anlat Karadeniz" is not without faults. Blatant show of violent scenes is occasionally disturbing. The change of scriptwriters for the second season caused indignation among fans that are afraid that the new scriptwriters won't be able to catch up with the skill set of the previous ones. We will wait and see how this change will affect the show next season. We strongly hope the new scriptwriters stay loyal to the core of the show and "Sen Anlat Karadeniz" continues to be a pleasure to watch
Please click to read our informative text prepared pursuant to the Law on the Protection of Personal Data No. 6698 and to get information about the cookies used on our website in accordance with the relevant legislation.
6698 sayılı Kişisel Verilerin Korunması Kanunu uyarınca hazırlanmış aydınlatma metnimizi okumak ve sitemizde ilgili mevzuata uygun olarak kullanılan çerezlerle ilgili bilgi almak için lütfen tıklayınız.