Updated: Dec 1, 2020
Relative to the expectations set with the trailers and by the production team, there was hardly any growth in the story during this episode. We spent 2 plus hours watching Eda pursue her suspicion that there is more to the story behind their breakup, and then to confirm based on conflicting statements that perhaps there isn’t more after all, only to fall into the overused eavesdropping trope to have her suspicion be aroused again.
Serkan remains on his schtick of “can’t be with you, can’t be without you”, and Eda, despite her misgivings, keeps him at arm’s length, with repetitions of familiar bickering that end in Serkan giving into her whims because he simply cannot resist.
Do I sound a little bitter? Because I am. When there is so much potential in the characters to move the plot in more dynamic directions without requiring more filming time or added expenses, it seems a shame to witness a stagnation in character growth, and regression in the lead pair’s sexual tension and apparent desire for each other. Once again, I find the plot design to be unbalanced where we spend inordinate amounts of time in angst and misery, and not enough on the celebration of the happier times. This is a Romantic Comedy. If I was looking to invest my energies in a drama, I have plenty of options that actually address more socially pressing issues other than people running around in circles due to lies and inhibitions.
Having gotten THAT out of my system, today I will discuss the couple of dynamics in the Serkan Eda relationship that give further insights into their characters, and some about plot devices that can be used more effectively.
Serkan is not blind to Eda’s pain and struggle in dealing with the separation, even though she is true to her character of not cowering to life’s curve balls. With Eda’s brief lapse in memory, Serkan is conflicted in how he should respond. On the one hand, he knows Eda will regain her senses soon and as such he cannot revel too much in the muscle memory of holding her the way he wants. On the other, when she lays her head on his shoulder, he cannot help but express his deepest desire to hold onto this moment forever.
Through Kerem’s subdued performance, we see a Serkan who has sanitized all his actions to maintain a physical and emotional distance with Eda, and is measured in his comments to Eda so that he is not feeding her suspicion about the real reasons behind the break up. We don’t get enough insight into his struggles with maintaining this façade except for when they enter the bedroom in the summer house and he is assaulted by the memories of what they had shared.
To an extent, we see the usually animated Eda be the same in becoming mechanical in her self-expression, with her deepest expression of her sorrow also coming at the summer house when she asks him the personal questions of ‘when did you hurt someone the most? your saddest day? your happiest day?” that remain unanswered by Serkan. Her tears are heartfelt but Serkan remains unmoved from his conviction that he has done the right thing about never giving Eda the choice of knowing the truth. It still remains to be seen if her claim that “NOTHING” justifies his actions will remain true once she knows the full truth.
As they walk through the house, both are tormented by the memories of their love and intimacy shared in the home, a remembrance of beautiful times when the world felt perfect, now contrasted with the apathetic lack of connection between them. Bringing Eda back here seems to be in poor taste as going back to the resort or going to a hotel would have been kinder to her. But, it had to be done as a plot device to give insight into the depth of what they have shared between them and why theirs isn’t an ordinary break-up for either of them. The modernity of their love, sexuality and story is refreshing, and the portrayal is appropriately modest for a Turkish production. It also helps to accentuate how both have become a shell of their former selves as they navigate this new normal imposed by Serkan.
The hyped up dance scene came and went before I could blink, and I am uncertain if it is intended or editorial discretion. Compare this to the dance scene from Episode 3, and their pained yearning for each other is completely absent, especially given that both now have more reasons to feel a deeper version of this attraction, after having tasted the passion.
Throughout the episode, we have a few heated exchanges in the office, with both ending in Serkan simply relenting to Eda’s desires or letting her have the last word. I have said this before - women do not celebrate having men who just cave to her whimsical desires. We seek a match who is our intellectual and emotional peer, equally committed to the growth of our relationship. Showing Eda repeatedly steamroll through arguments and portraying Serkan to not have enough conviction to maintain his professional views fails to portray this desired equality in the relationship. Their wins and losses against each other need to be more balanced for it to be surprising and delightful. For now, it seems to be the rote path that Eda will just get her way partly because she’s loudly persuasive and partly because Serkan is unable to resist her. Repeated patterns get boring in a story, and in real life.
The scenarios are different from Episode 15 but in reality the underlying theme is no different than what we got in Episode 15. Serkan will not be with her, Eda is hurt, confused but determined to move forward instead of pushing him to explain himself. This glacial movement in their dynamic is bringing a thriving fandom to a grinding halt such that only die hard fans of the actors will eventually continue to watch the show. It doesn’t have to be that way.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY BASAK/ PIRIL
I have not seen another show where a cast member’s birthday got so blown out of proportion as part of a plot device but heartiest wishes to Basak for her birthday. The karaoke night is a fun and interesting twist but the Eda Serkan interactions fell flat, as though the team couldn’t decide whether they should pursue the route of a drunk Eda able to get some truths out of Serkan or an empowered Eda who continues to only make subtle hints about how much she’s (un)affected by the break-up. Through the indecision, we get something in between with neither resolved in a satisfactory manner. Serkan maintains his platonic façade but manages to communicate that Eda’s effusive interactions with Efe should be kept at bay in front of him. With this concession, Eda should have pounced on him and pinned him to the ground to explain himself better but in her befuddled state of mind, she just consents to dance with him, and quickly thinks better of this plan. And I came away confused about the amount of time spent in the buildup of a possible showdown, only for that to end on …. nothing.
EVOLUTION: BOLAT PARENTING
It seems Alptekin has accepted Serkan’s anger, understanding why he cannot forgive. After finding his first pure and innocent love, Serkan is forced to abandon his love because of Alptekin’s mistake and Alptekin is yet to make a move on trying to fix it beyond trying to force Serkan to forgive based on promises of a fix. Aydan is similarly worried about losing her son and neither seem to be thinking about the brokenness that is driving Serkan to these decisions to isolate himself.
We see some growth in Aydan through her therapy session, and she concedes that all the Bolats have been unfair to Eda. She also accepts that, underneath it all, she really does love Eda because she was the only one who could help her get out of the gates of her home. The therapist’s insight about Aydan having a lot of unfinished stories in her life is interesting, and how that can deepen her inhibitions. Wrong decisions of her past have curtailed where her life is now, and she’s afraid to step out to try new things or rock her balance. Bringing Eda back to help her heal is still selfish but perhaps she also hopes that over time Eda will have a deeper understanding of Serkan for when she discovers the truth. She already thinks maybe Eda would have accepted Serkan regardless.
Aydan as a character seems to morph with the needs of the script and her growth is neither linear nor relatable. It would be good to decide what in her backstory makes her so emotionally callous and have her find ways of being more human again. Getting out of the gate is only one of her many challenges. Showing her have a clear sense of who she is is important, which is almost a black box at this moment. Is she an enlightened mother who can lecture her son on how to treat women, or is she the lowest common denominator when bringing another woman down? Is she a mother who understands the struggles of her son or one who cannot think beyond herself? The signals have become confusing.
STALLED STORY LINE
A few weeks ago, I was half-serious when I posted this comment on an Instagram post about the future of the show, and I am now amazed at my soothsaying abilities.
The appeal of Turkish drama lies in a spiritual strain in how the stories are told, with talented actors who can emote in relatable ways within relatable family scenarios. Stories that do well are ones that are moving in positive directions, with the main pair making measurable progress in every episode. The writers already have a lot at their disposal that can be used more effectively:
1) The threat of Babanne has been hanging like the Damocles sword since episode 1. It does not take Einstein to figure out that Efe’s secret investor is Babanne. It doesn’t have to take so many episodes to bring the confrontation to the fore and let the story unfold from there. There will be interesting themes between Babanne/ Eda, Babanne/ Ayfer and maybe even a showdown between Babanne/ Alptekin, which really pushes Serkan to take sides. At this point, her arrival is so expected that by the time she makes her grand appearance, it will be anti-climactic (I have a vision of Nanny McPhee, who will improve upon acquaintance).
2) Eda should have discovered something meaningful earlier in this episode, and more time spent with Eda starting to unravel Serkan such that the two can arrive at the truth together. Let Serkan understand that it isn’t easy to lose Eda nor is it easy for her to lose her innocence. She’s a fighter who loves with all her heart and he needs to learn to trust. There should have been a couple of skits dedicated to this already. Serkan as a character has been stalled since he walked away from her.
3) More can be shown about Eda rekindling her academic career and how she will make that work. She’s either moping or coping, and while episode 15 did better with showing her fire as she coped, this episode was sadly lacking. There are a lot of opportunities in this arc to show many interesting skits that will appeal to the show’s core female audience.
4) Every other episode can have a new project idea the firm is pursuing with interesting challenges that utilize different people’s skills. Episode 6 was done very well.
5) Serkan is a sharp businessman; the way he took down Kaan in the bidding game in Episode 3 was very well done; the way he saved the project in Episode 6 was also illuminating. That arc can be built more instead of always showing him to be inept or in the wrong from Eda’s perspective. If she deepens her ‘know-it-all’ attitude, the relationship will have different problems down the road.
6) Have Serkan and Eda reunite and rekindle their passion. It was their sexual tension that created such an active fandom and now it seems to be falling asleep at its feet. As mentioned earlier, now they have more reason to physically yearn the other and yet there was no hint of that desire throughout the last two episodes.
7) Ferit the affable guy needs to find a direction. It seems as though the writers are undecided as to whether he heads back to Selin or grows with Ceren. For now, neither relationship has enough friction and yet both take up air time.
8) Efe The Ack Man also needs to start showing his true colors. His intrusive interactions with Ferit were a good start in giving his hand away and by now he should have dropped hints about his knowledge about the wall collapse. It was shown as a reason as to why his bid to join the holding was considered and why Ferit now owns 5%. That thread has disappeared except as a wall between Serkan and Eda, and for now, Efe seems to have a benign relationship with everyone with no real movement in any direction. He could also have a deeper connection with Ayfer, given their shared Mardin history.
9) Seyfi is such a perceptive character that he can also be used more effectively than be portrayed as Aydan’s throwaway sidekick. The way she treats him is very disrespectful and given how sensitive he is shown to be, his acceptance of such rough behavior doesn’t help Aydan, but reinforces her sense of entrenchment in this superficial world she has created for herself.
10) One of my favorite characters is Anil – with his infectious humor and absent-minded mistakes. He is an excellent plot device to understand Serkan better, in the ways he counsels Serkan or pushes his buttons. His pettiness in shoving the chairs out of place as he huffed out of Serkan’s office was one of the highlights of this episode. More of these skits would add depth because the male dynamics usually do not get enough air time in the dizi world. [Readers: Please feel free to leave more ideas in the comments section]
We have already belabored Breakup 1.0 long enough. It is time to move on, but the new trailer is not feeding a lot of hope. The pair consummate their relationship a few days ago, break up the evening after, and now they are already worrying about a possible baby. Of course it will end up being a misdirection but it is painful to see the beautiful plot from the earlier episodes take such unnecessary and ludicrous turns in its direction.
YOU FOOL ME ONCE, SHAME ON YOU. YOU FOOL ME TWICE, SHAME ON ME.
This is the umpteenth time that I have seen fans get excited about all the hype created by the writers and producers, only to find that reality bites. I will implore the social media admins to please maintain authenticity in what you use in the PR. You have a talented cast with a loyal following and every opportunity to keep building on this show’s success. I am hearing too many folks grumble about mismatched expectations, how typical the tropes have become and how the show has lost the essence of what it started with. Within the resource constraints, a tighter script with growth for #EdSer will ensure that current fans are maintained. And if the episodes can upgrade to becoming stand-alone stories that will not require a lot of background knowledge of the characters, it might even bring in new viewers who are looking for some good laughs.
I have often heard many complaints about good shows being cancelled due to the ratings game and how the numbers are misleading about the depth of a story. As I have followed this story with great attention, I can firmly say that the ratings for this show have tracked well with what the story has brought to the audience. This is illustrated in the chart below, where only the data labels for total ratings have been added:
As soon as Kurulus Osman and Sadakatsiz came online the first week of October, it coincided with Serkan and Eda’s breakup and a relative stagnation in the script. Naturally, the ratings took a dip and this week, it performed worse than Dogdugun Ev Kaderindir. The trailers gave away the two high points of the episode, confirming that it is a really bad idea to include the final scene in any trailer.
Last week, the second trailer was shared on Tuesday and the episode performed marginally better. This week, both the trailers had aired by Saturday, leaving 3 days in between for people to forget that the show is coming. Given how much competition there is now, keeping the second trailer until Tuesday might work better, especially if it can pack a punch.
Ratings are lower in the AB segment, which is the segment with highest buying power. It is also the more discerning segment and I suspect they share many of the sentiments I have expressed. Our opportunity cost of watching a show is high (i.e. the economic concept of what we give up with our choice to consume a certain alternative), and once our marginal value/ joy from each succeeding episode begins to fall, we become more ready to switch to another alternative.
Sen Cal Kapimi still has so much potential for character growth, intertwined with all the literary references Ayse is capable of weaving into the story. It still has potential for the magic to keep growing such that it draws the soul back into the narrative. The whole team worked very hard to build characters one can fall in love with, and we wish to keep growing with them as they move forward within an innovative, slightly surprising plot.
Till we meet again.
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