A Tribute to the Production Team By the Fandon, For the Fandom, Of the Fandom
Part 1 of 2
(Warning: long read)
Her Yerde Sen (“You Are Everywhere”) is a gem of a production from the Turkish dizi world, gorgeously essaying a modern love story between Demir Erendil (played by the handsome Furkan Andic) and Selin Sever (played by the gorgeous Aybuke Pusat). Two independent, self-reliant, strong personalities who end up housemates due to a fraudulent sale of the house by two well-meaning but air-headed sisters, and subsequently also colleagues at a struggling architectural firm, the show masterfully captures their journey of falling in love and then explores believable relationship dynamics as they discover how to remain in love.
Without the typical melodrama of the common fare in Turkish romantic comedies, Her Yerde Sen embraces progressive themes as its plot arcs, and presents characters one can fall in love with, in spite of their imperfections. There is no gender bias in creating the character arcs that make either the male or the female protagonists appear as being more sympathetic or subservient to the other. Refreshingly, a female lead character is allowed to have less than perfect characteristics, without deserving being punished for being so.
Under the guise of comedy, writers Deniz Yesilgun and Esra Cetek Yilmazer broke many social stereotypes in relationship dynamics as well as in promoting social tolerance for themes that are typically underappreciated. It is no wonder that the show garnered an engaged, global following of fans who fell in love with the artistic presentation of the emotionally intelligent show. Under the able guidance of young director Ender Mihlar, every frame is beautifully composed, creating a visual experience one wishes to savor for a long time.
The introductory text above is for anyone who is yet to watch the show and is looking for a summary of why the 23 episode long Her Yerde Sen is worth a watch. The rest of this analysis in Part 1, and the subsequent Part 2, will include spoilers as it delves deeper into the themes in the show and will include visual assets from some of the show’s many fans, who converged on Twitter to create a unique fan experience as we all collectively fell in love with the story, the characters and the harmony of the whole production team.
After having watched Turkish dizis for the last two years, for the first time I was part of a twitter fandom that united in love in ways that kept the discourse positive, loving and tolerant at all times. The production itself played a big part in nurturing this spirit of positivism, and I felt it necessary to capture the pillars of the show so that old and new fans could come back and re-live what we shared, and be reminded that when things seem cynical and hopeless, it is the power of a good story well told that can bring out the best in us, should we let it. My heartfelt gratitude to my fellow conspirators who have been generous with their time and talents to help create this time capsule for Her Yerde Sen.
The central, underlying theme of the story is the simplest concept in the world: love. The title being Her Yerde Aşk (“Love is Everywhere”) would have worked just as well, as all the characters were either looking to grow in love or supporting the growth of love. Not only does the story essay the love between the protagonists but also explores other shades of love that speak to different archetype of personalities in how they love and wish to be loved.
There is the side love story between Ayda and Ibo, a sweet love between two uncomplicated individuals who need to learn to focus on their own relationship within their loyalty to their friends. The unlikely but incredible love story between the wealthy, elderly spinster Leyla and the widower handyman Muharrem, who decide to tie the knot in spite of their difference in social class; the failed love story between Merve and Bora, who could not learn to fight for their love; the budding love story between Vedat and Merve, two adults pushed to a different level of maturity in the wake of failed marriages; the possible love between Azmiye and Ferruh, two people who are driven by basal human instincts for survival but one who is pure in her intentions and the other whose moral compass got buried at birth; the questionable love story between Burak and Eylul who share the history of having wealthy, unavailable father figures, and who both make circuitous choices in life that push them towards each other; the unfulfilled love stories between children and their parents and how in the absence of a real parent, surrogate ones fill the roles in the lives of young people looking to live their own lives of meaning.
The way the story is told, it feels as though an invisible hand makes each of the pairs gravitate towards each other, illustrating the strength of fate in how individuals collide into each other during the course of their lives. And therein lies the best part about this story. The dialogue and plots are so delicately crafted that even behind the comical predicaments and delivery, the peaks and valleys of each and every relationship is relatable, especially for young people looking to thrive in modern, contemporary relationships.
Demir + Selin: A Magical Love Story from Neverland
Selin Sever is a girl with an over-active, expansive, quirky and child-like imagination, who has stepped away from her small town roots in Sinop to make a life for herself as a progressive professional in bustling Istanbul. An only child, Selin was raised by a strict father who was an educator, and a mild-mannered mother who helped to tend to the farm animals and lands they were surrounded by. Due to an early childhood trauma of being ‘punished’ for the unintended consequence of her imaginative plays where a friend nearly died, Selin has an unhealthy fear of losing those that she loves, either because they leave or get taken away. She surrounds herself with animals who are like her children, and embraces the troubles of her friends and colleagues as if they are her own, perhaps in a way to keep her loved ones close to her. From her trauma of loss, she developed maladaptive coping mechanisms, often choosing to remain ensconced within an alternate form of reality to protect her from her pain. This creates an aura of fragility which masks an inner strength and empowered personality, who has it in her to be completely self-reliant.
Selin remains respectful and loving towards her parents, who also completely love her and want the best for her, within what they know of the world. Tethered to their traditional values, their dreams and aspirations for Selin are modest, and lacks a deeper appreciation for who she has become as an individual as she went through her educational and professional experiences. Their moral code is simple and embedded within the social acceptance of customs prevalent in Sinop. Having left her roots in Sinop and yet connected to her childhood values through the love for her parents, Selin in Istanbul is a conflicted character who straddles the fine lines between the heart and mind; tradition and modernity; living for her parents and living for herself.
Obviously intelligent, who was a chess champion in school as opposed to being the most popular, and a talented professional, Selin has made her mark in Istanbul on her own merit, without the luxury of familial wealth or connections to open doors for her. With financial support from her parents, she has purchased a home in the wealthy Sariyer area in Istanbul, and she has used her artistic bents as an interior designer to slowly renovate the old-fashioned home to be a reflection of her personality. A home that preserves the charm of the yester years but one that also incorporates modern lines and colors to create an inviting space for those she loves, namely her various pets and her set of friends. This home becomes central to the love story that she gravitates towards with Demir Erendil, who lays an equal claim to the house.
Demir Erendil is no stranger to the pain of loss and abandonment. His mother left home when he was only six years old and the only reason he didn’t go with her is because his father convinced him that if Demir stayed at home, his mother would return. She never did return and his father, unable to handle a young child on his own as he was busy with his career, shipped Demir off to boarding school. Since then estranged with his father, for all practical purposes, Demir has been on his own since his mother left, and in his adult mind, some of his happiest memories are of shared activities with his mother, and of the happier times during his parent’s marriage in his childhood home.
Demir grew up to be a straight-laced career driven architect, who thought he had it all worked out when he proposed to his live-in girlfriend Eylul, the daughter of a wealthy businessman and someone who also was an accomplished professional. A day after the engagement, Eylul, like his mother, also abandons Demir, leaving only a short impersonal note and her engagement ring. As it turned out, she left to pursue her career as she was feeling stifled in her relationship with Demir. Shattered and broken, Demir moves to Japan for two years to rebuild himself and his career, and finally returns to Istanbul to reestablish his roots. He purchases his childhood home and also buys shares at the failing company Artemim where Eylul’s father was a shareholder.
These are his ways of confronting the ghosts of his past and moving on with life without being affected by those losses any longer. Both of these moves are a testament to his self-control and emotional awareness; he thinks that being back in his childhood home will stop him feeling that he had no choice in leaving the only home he had known, and he hopes that being at the helm of Artemim will finally bring Eylul back in front him, so he can gain closure on her sudden decision to leave without a real explanation.
Upon his return to Istanbul, the first thing he does is to go into his new home. He had purchased the home in absentia through a lawyer, and this was his first walk-through. As he finds memories lurking at every turn in and outside the home, he was surprised to find that it looked lived in, and even more surprised to be attacked by a girl clad in a bathrobe.
To their shock, Demir and Selin find themselves both to be owners of the home, as two elderly sisters, Firuze and Leyla, each sold their share in the house at separate times to separate owners, without an expressed interest in defrauding anyone. To sort out the paperwork will take a long time and during that time neither Demir nor Selin wish to relinquish their claim on the house. To make matters worse, Demir shows up at Artemim as Selin’s new boss, making the situation even more murky as Demir does not want anyone at the office to know he’s sharing a home with an employee.
Separating the personal from the professional is of paramount importance to Demir, to the point that he prohibits any kind of office romance. He subscribes to the philosophy that getting too ingratiated with the employees and their personal problems can cloud good judgement when needing to make management decisions. He feels that if someone is conflicted about being at the company while in love with a colleague, then that person does not have it in them to fight for their love. Surely, career cannot be more important than preserving one’s love.
From the very beginning, we see the sparks fly between two strong individuals, both of whom are very fair at heart, but indulge in petty behavior whenever they can to keep the other in his/ her place. Not one to shy away from a challenge, Selin has been leading the charge at work in conspiring with her friends to drive Demir out of Aretmim, and ergo from her life and home. Demir, in his turn, has been doing everything possible to make her life at home miserable and making her feel unwelcome by taking over the main bedroom and relegating her furniture to an unused room on the top floor or dumping them in the yard. As stubborn as they are, even when both understand what the other is trying to do, they ignore the petty moves and continue to share their spaces both at home and work.
As the events of their lives unfold, they both come to see qualities in the other that they cannot help but admire, and begin to see each other in a different light. For Demir, Selin’s fun loving, loyal, loud and audacious personality is a breath of fresh air in an otherwise staid existence, and she begins to embody the life of their home. For Selin, Demir’s sense of fairness, gentle but understated nurturing attitude, and deep professional integrity become evident, and she starts to renege on her earlier plans to help get rid of him. Both are unable to articulate what they feel but both begin to despair when the other is not around.
A major turning point in their relationship comes in the form of Selin’s parents showing up at the house unannounced. Watching Selin’s interactions with her parents and how loving and caring they seem towards her, makes Demir wistful for the kind of family life he never had. When Selin begs him to continue the charade of the parents believing that she still lived on her own, and watching her grovel just so she could protect her father’s fragile health because he will not fully understand the confusing situation, made him see Selin as someone’s daughter who needed protection, as opposed to an adversary who had to be defended against. He graciously agrees to the lies, abetted by the Gunbakan sisters who pretend to be Demir’s aunts, and through various comical predicaments, Demir and Selin manage to convince the parents that Selin was well looked after by those around her and that she remained safe and well in her own home.
It is often said that girls tend to marry their fathers. In a pivotal scene at the bus station as Selin’s parents are about to leave, the point was very well-made by the script writers in a subtle and beautiful way. Demir and her father are similar in how they use rules to navigate their relationships, how much warmth they hide under their strict exteriors and how unrelenting they can be in protecting those they care about. It may be also why Selin is able to confront Demir’s rigidity, look past it and reach beyond the smokescreen to touch his inner soul. Demir, who had not had much of a father figure throughout his life, is incredibly touched when Selin’s father overcomes his suspicions about Demir and praises him for turning out a fine young man in the absence of his parents.
There is a kinship between the two men as Semih Sever also shares his life story of growing up by himself and as they shake their hands, one is given insight into how, in the future, Demir and Semih will have a wonderful relationship as father and son. It is something Demir could never build with his own father. Demir has a similar exchange with Selin’s mother, who doesn’t think twice about hugging him while clucking over him and asking him to take care of himself. Deprived of a mother figure since childhood, to be embraced in such a warm, welcome hug, Demir’s smallest of gestures of giving a hesitating hug back felt heart-breaking. It felt as though a dam had broken and his eyes held the pain of all the nights he might have cried himself to sleep because he missed his mother’s touch.
The interlude with the parents began to bring out a side of Demir that neither Demir nor Selin might have expected, but they both knew that now it could not be stopped. They had a connection only they could feel deeply in their souls, even if they lacked the words to express them. As he lets himself show his affection for a woman again, Selin begins to see the little boy in Demir, her Peter Pan who can finally sweep Wendy off of her feet. The kind of man she has been dreaming about since her childhood to stand next to her and be her partner. Selin understands fully that underneath his tough exterior lies the softest heart who wants desperately to love and be loved. Their walls around each other begin to crumble and in spite of the inner conflict Selin and Demir face in pursuing a relationship in face of the ban imposed at work, they continue to gravitate towards each other.
Without making direct confessions to each other, misunderstandings begin to seep in. Due to a miscommunication, Vedat, Demir’s dearest and only real friend and family, believes that Selin is someone else and expresses an interest in getting to know her better. Vedat has been divorced and alone for a long time, and as such when Demir understands that Vedat admired Selin before knowing she was Selin, he cannot in good conscience pursue her. He gets into a tormented phase of fighting between his heart and mind, and wants to leave the coast clear for Vedat even if it breaks his own soul. When Vedat finally comes to understand the dynamics, he is happy to set Demir back on track, explaining to him that as a horticulturist, he understands that certain plants are only meant to thrive in certain environments. In that, Selin could only belong to Demir and Vedat has no regrets on this.
This was a gorgeous exchange between two men, who are never likely to gossip the same way Selin is likely to with her bosom friends Ayda and Merve, but within their limited expressions, they are able to convey deep ideas that the other can easily understand. It was also a testament to Demir’s loyalty and his willingness to sacrifice himself for what he thought was the right thing to do. And given all his past hurts, it also showed his lack of confidence in being able to lay his claim on his heart’s desires.
As Selin and Demir traverse the nonsensical interventions from self-serving characters like Alara and Burak, we witness their phases of jealousy and restraint as neither wish to come out and lay an overt claim on the other. When they finally succumb to their growing desire for each other and share one of the most passionate kisses presented in a Turkish dizi in recent times, the build up to it is beautiful, completely mutual and they both knowingly turn a corner in their relationship. Presented here is the uncut version of the kiss posted by the production company, with translations provided by @ShadowMistery_ on twitter.
It felt like a cosmic experience for them both, punctuating an inevitability in their union that empower them and scare them at the same time. They are both now vulnerable to the actions of the other and given how many things one has hidden from the other, it will be a long road until they both become completely secure in their love for each other and their willingness to fight for that love. As with any relationship, Selin and Demir begin to learn how to remain in love as they overcome their obstacles.
They share many sweet and beautiful moments where it is evident how much they care about each other, how harmonious they can be and how incomplete they are without the other, but their love gets tested with some major events. One of them was Demir’s discovery that one of the ploys the employees had planned for in order to force him to remove the ban on the office romance was to have him fall in love with an employee, and that Selin had been volunteered for the job. This knowledge hurts him so deeply that his faith in her love for him gets shaken. He is unable to walk away completely, and even though he feels her love in his heart, he re-erects his walls and falls back on sticking to his rigid principles and rules as a way to continue living with her in such close quarters. She willingly accepts her mistakes and the ways he ‘punishes’ her by staying away from her. However, thanks to the intervention from a growing family of supporters of the #SelDem love story, Selin is able to prove to Demir that her love for him was not a game. I have stated this in a previous post, but their reunion from this short period of being apart was sealed with a kiss which is one of the most aesthetic shots I have seen.
This first real confession of love leads to some of the most romantic scenes between Selin and Demir, with both of them having completely shattered each other’s defenses against love. The transformation of Demir from rigid to incredibly loving, his sense of peace in having her in his life, his sense of ownership of her and her troubles, are beautifully shown. Many times, male characters in shows are emasculated to be able to show their love for their women, but the scriptwriters never fell for such cheap plots. Demir remains a strong personality and the ways he shows his love and affection was masterfully woven into his character from the beginning. Neither he nor Selin changed drastically to make room for their significant other, which remains at the crux of the beauty of this show. Their journey seems such a natural progression along a rambling, experiential road filled with necessary pit stops, that none of their interactions seem forced. The following clip from the production company of their first dance together, a re-enactment of ballroom dancing out on their street, is simply a cinematic masterpiece for a romantic comedy. Reminiscent of musicals from old Hollywood, their physical movements as they dance to The Blue Danube Waltz by Strauss are poetic and elegant, just as the rhythm of the script is.
As Louis Aragon so aptly wrote in his poem “There is no Happy Love” –
there is no love which does not live from weeping there is no happy love but it is our love to the two of us…”
Selin and Demir face the next big test in their love as Demir’s ex-fiance makes a re-appearance in their lives, orchestrated by the weasel Burak, who has made it his life’s mission to destroy Demir because his father, a shareholder at Artemim, had more faith in Demir than in Burak. Up until then, Demir kept the truths about Eylul and his childhood home from Selin, wanting to restart his life with Selin, who had become the biggest source of joy in his life. He found purpose, love, serenity, sense of family, his future in Selin, and he understood that the depth of what he felt for her was not remotely comparable to what he had had with Eylul.
Just as he had grown from the broken, abandoned child and did not carry the debilitating sense of loss within him any longer, he had also grown from the rigid and proper young man he used to be when in a relationship with Eylul. His priorities and values had changed. He liked the version of himself he could be when with Selin, and Eylul’s return puts his newly formed relationship with Selin at risk. Thinking that they were not stable enough to absorb the truth yet, he focuses on building a stronger foundation with Selin, hoping to ease her into the truth. In the meanwhile, Selin becomes friends with Eylul, now a colleague at Artemim, who is not the typical obsessive lover one would expect in a dizi but an accomplished, self-confident young woman who graciously accepts that she has no place in Demir’s life. For more details on this period in their relationship, you can read my episode analysis for episodes 16, 17, 18.
When Selin pieces the truth together, it breaks her faith in the potential of their relationship as she now questions the man she thinks she loves. In her pain and angst, she steps away from their relationship, wanting some time and space to be sure of the strength of their love, even though Demir begged her to stay and fight for their relationship along with him. He accepts her decision but finds it difficult to stay away from her. Feeling crowded and unable to move past her insecurities regarding Demir’s past, Selin lets her anger get the better of her and says some very hurtful things.
As Charles Glassman puts a twist in the oft said words, “Sticks and stones can break your bones, but words can never hurt you…unless you believe them. Then, they can destroy you.” When Selin tells Demir that being with him is not doing her any good, he leaves the home that he fought so hard to preserve. To him, walking away from this home is tied to so many painful memories – of his mother’s abandonment, his father sending him away - that to him being able to protect the sanctity of their relationship within the confines of these walls meant something special. Being able to stay and fight strengthened his belief that one is not defined by their past or their bad experiences, and that there is always hope for a future worth fighting for.
He steps away not because he gives up on the relationship but because he sees it as a way to reset their relationship. He wants them both to go back to the basics where neither is compelled by the house, or any other external factors, to be in a relationship. He wants to solve the problems at work as soon as possible so that Eylul can leave and remain away from their immediate sphere. He wants for Selin to believe that he has nothing other than Selin in his heart. He wants for Selin to understand that in the grander scheme of things, Selin much prefers being with Demir than without him and that she will have to learn to stake her claim on him. She should never step away to make room for someone else to claim him, which is what she was trying to do to make sure that neither Demir nor Eylul had any unresolved feelings for each other. He wants for her to come back to him, with her whole heart and desire to build a life with him. And, eventually, she does.
As they get back together, Demir realizes that to take their relationship to the next level, Selin has to get to a place where she no longer needs to lie to her parents about sharing her home with a man. Within her parent's conservative values, there is no room for a live-in relationship, and Selin cannot whole-heartedly give herself to Demir knowing how much it will hurt her parents if they came to know the truth. Selin also realizes that after all the pains they have endured in their personal and professional spaces, she wanted to focus only on Demir for a while, and wants to be in a place where her mind is not distracted by the influence of other people that keeps her from living the kind of life she wants with Demir.
As Artemim faces a string of crises and goes bankrupt, independently both Selin and Demir make plans for the next phase in their lives. At Leyla and Muharrem Bey's wedding in their garden, they each make a simultaneous offer to the other that seals their commitment to each other. He asks her to marry him while she asks him to travel the world with her, fulfilling her lifelong dream to fly across the world with her Peter Pan. Their happy moment is captured in the following GIF by @scldem, twitter.
Even though there were many more stories to tell about Selin and Demir, our modern day Peter Pan and Wendy, their narrative in Her Yerde Sen was brought to its conclusion in an exquisite way. It told a story of two young people who could be defined by the terrible things that happened to them, but eventually chose not to. It captured the journey of two souls who meandered through life, fated to collide and bloom in ways that are mindful and emotionally intelligent. It is rare that two forces of nature are able to circle each other in complete harmony and play to each other’s strengths to create a relationship that is meaningful, equitable and fulfilling. Like the binary star system where two stars circle each other in an infinite pathway, Selin and Demir embody the cosmic description Selin provides of Demir on the night of their first kiss. The script was an intricate study in creating two characters who are meant to circle each other in the same way; neither able to eclipse the other, either in their life’s desires or in their expectations of the other, and one always needing the other’s gravitational force to sustain their path in life.
And it is thus that the audience said their good-byes to a gorgeous pair, left to live a love story worth living to its fullest potential, wishing them the best to infinity, and beyond. Here I share a fan video created by one of the most ardent fans of the show, @scldem on twitter. Thumbnail picture is provided by @smoakfairchild on twitter.
As I conclude on part 1 of this two part series, I thank my fellow conspirators for their help in creating this chronicle for an intricate production and my special thanks to the scriptwriters #DenizYesilgun and #EsraCetekYilmazer for handling such important themes with so much care and sensibility. The cleverness with which they wove this story is nothing short of genius.
Part 2 will be released in a few days and it will delve into a review of underlying and overt themes, show aesthetics and parallelisms, and the talented performances in the show. Stay tuned!
© mh/ @entrespire, twitter; concept, co-ordination, writer. USA
Acknowledgments to my co-conspirators from Twitter:
@smoakfairchild, Visual edits. Belgium
@scldem, Video creation, visual content. France
@muzacgurl, Video creation. USA
@yaseldem, Content idea, sourcing. Morocco
@seldemstan, Visual content sourcing. Turkey/ Canada
@vernisverna, Visual content, GIFs. Spain
@seldemcanem, Video editing, creation. UK
@FurkanAndicEng & @gankush1, Translations. Turkey & USA
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