Gonul Isleri is a family drama focusing on the lives of three sisters, Servet, Saadet and Sevda who are navigating various stages of life. Raised by their father, Muzaffer (with quite a bit of assistance by eldest sister Servet) after being abandoned as young children by their mother, middle sister Saadet is in her late 20’s, establishing a career for herself in the jewelry business and about to marry suave and sophisticated Asrin. Sevda is completing her final courses in university as she works towards a law degree which she hopes will secure her a position in the family business of her wealthy boyfriend Tibet, and also a place in his family. Eldest sister Servet owns and operates a successful wedding planning business with her best friend Alev, and despite the desire of her longtime husband, former national soccer hero, Yilmaz, Servet has no plans of having children of her own, especially after taking on the role of mother to her younger sisters from the age of 12. The tension and strain in the marriage is evident by their persistent bickering and arguing, with Alev going as far as to encourage Servet to divorce.
The meanings of the sisters’ names clue the viewer in to the central problem that each will encounter as the series begins. Servet (Fortune) will continuously struggle to persevere financially in business. Saadet (Happiness) will stumble every time she nearly finds contentment, and Sevda (Love) will grapple with the prospect of settling for less than true love in favor of climbing the social strata. Rounding out the main cast of characters is Bedir, a young man who quickly becomes an honorary member of the family, and Kemal, a police detective whose path begins to continuously cross with Saadet’s. Colorful supporting characters are found in Nuri, Yilmaz’s devoted and endearing side kick, and Ismail, Muzaffer’s elementary school-aged but wise beyond his years neighbor and confidant. Lale, Tibet’s domineering mother and CEO of their family business sporadically appears to function as both a thorn in Sevda’s side and an obstacle to what Sevda misguidedly believes is her path to happiness.
The series opens with a large, opulent, and obviously expensive wedding that is about to begin, and one equally obvious missing bride. As Alev stalls for time, Servet tracks down and reassures the bride, who is struggling with cold feet over a mother in law that she knows does not like her. Servet skillfully convinces the bride that since she truly loves her fiancé, she should return and exchange vows. To save the day and help her client save face, Servet explains the bride’s late arrival away by saying she was accidentally locked in the bathroom by a careless venue employee. That employee, the kind-hearted Bedir goes along with the story without question or complaint, even when he loses his job as a result. Feeling guilty that she has cost Bedir not only his livelihood but his lodging as well (he worked as a night watchman and slept at the wedding venue) Servet promptly offers Bedir a ride, a job and a place to sleep.
Their destination is Servet & Alev’s wedding planning showroom and office for the final fitting of Saadet’s wedding gown. Given that her sister is considered one of the best wedding planners in Istanbul, Saadet’s gown is appropriately but tastefully over the top. Sevda is less impressed with her own self-described “bland” bridesmaid’s dress. Insisting Sevda withhold judgment and stop complaining, Servet instructs her to go try it on. Unfamiliar with the layout of his new workplace, Bedir accidentally stumbles upon Sevda pulling on her dress in a fitting room while he is looking for his uniform. Apologetic, he quickly turns around, assures an annoyed Sevda that he did not see “anything” (although the amused twinkle in his eye says that he wishes he had) and gallantly offers to guard the door so that no one else barges in on her. Sevda is not impressed, thinks Bedir is no gentleman and leaves in a huff. It is obvious to the viewer that sparks were flying for both during this first encounter. Later, when Sevda arrives at the university for an exam, it is revealed that she has been flirting with the teaching assistant in exchange for academic “assistance” despite being in a committed relationship with Tibet.
As Saadet’s wedding approaches, Asrin is shown to be more (or perhaps, less) than the hardworking businessman he makes himself out to be. He is actually a con man and his year-long relationship with Saadet has only been orchestrated to help him gain access to the upscale jewelry shop where Saadet works. He stalls arriving at the wedding and reassures Saadet that his return to Istanbul following a business meeting has been delayed, but will be there soon. While optimistic and faithful Saadet confidently waits for her groom to show up and tries to keep her angry and protective father from sending her wedding guests home, Asrin breaks into the shop, steals the most expensive jewel in the vault and flees Istanbul.
Chaos ensues at the wedding when each sister’s life falls apart simultaneously. Tibet and Lale learn of Sevda’s flirtation and resulting university cheating scandal, Servet discovers that Yilmaz is having an affair, and rather than her loving fiancé, it’s a group of police who swarm in and whisk Saadet away. Meanwhile, Bedir mysteriously tries to blend in with the crowd and avoid being recognized by detectives. All of this is occurs in just the first episode!
The next 27 episodes are filled with triumphs and failures, romance and heartbreaks, secrets, lies, revelations, and most of all, love. The sisters discover that the new members of their inner circle, Bedir and Kemal, each have hidden pasts which influence the choices they make in the present, and the steps the men take towards their futures. The sisters also learn that their own family history is not exactly what they have been led to believe. Each character struggles to be true to their hearts and try to figure out what will secure them the lives they want as well as the love they need to feel content. Through all of this, the series is centered on the family unit and the love that binds it together.
Inadina Ask is a romantic comedy that deals with the problems that arise when families must learn to coexist as opposites attract and people from vastly different backgrounds fall in love. As multiple members of two drastically different families begin to fall in love, madness ensues. On the surface, Inadina Ask presents as a wacky, madcap comedy with silly and sometimes outlandish characters. But as the series progresses, it explores issues of modern versus traditional gender, family & cultural constructs, trust, betrayal, and forgiveness, revealing that beneath its surface flows a strong current of complex emotions.
Misunderstandings and mistaken identities form Defne and Yalin’s first impressions of each other when she arrives to start a new job at his tech company. Defne’s overbearing and traditional older brother Cinar forbids her from wearing the short, tight, and in his opinion, inappropriate blue dress that her ex-sister-in-law Leyla has selected for her. Defne (being Defne) decides to sneak it out of the house and change in her car once she arrives at work to fit in with the modern and fashionable women in her new office. Struggling to button the back of her dress, Defne steps out of her car for better leverage, which is when her bare feet and non-stop “blabbering” catch the eye and ear of Yalin, who is working under his truck repairing the vehicle. Sliding back out to offer assistance, casually dressed Yalin is assumed to be the company mechanic and promptly called a pervert by Defne. At the same time, Yalin sizes Defne up as a young woman looking to advance in her new job by capitalizing on her looks.
Once inside, while waiting to meet her new boss, Defne bonds with Yesim, who was similarly scolded earlier by her own (slightly) overbearing but (mostly) modern older brother for dressing too scantily for work. Yesim’s cousin, Deniz, arrives to greet Defne and introduce her to Yesim’s brother and the head of the company, Yalin Aras. Yalin is shocked that the brilliant coder Deniz has been telling him about is none other than the young woman he perceived was trying to get by on her looks. He gives her a seemingly unsolvable problem to decode and is impressed when the confident and competent Defne does just that before the end of her first workday. Between their fiery introduction in the parking lot and physically close encounters at Defne’s computer station, the sparks that fly between them are not necessarily welcomed but are undeniable. Playful, flirty, and persistent, Yalin eventually wears Defne down, and both admit their feelings for each other, sparking a flame of love that, while tested more than once, cannot be extinguished.
Meanwhile, as Defne and Yalin’s families become acquainted, other romantic pairings develop, each with unique problems. Cinar and Yesim fall quickly in love but find themselves continually bickering due to their stubborn natures and vastly different values. Cinar is traditional, economical, and hard-headed but softhearted, while Yesim is modern, frivolous, and immature but well-meaning. Their relationship hits as many bumps in the road as Defne and Yalin’s. Meanwhile, forced to spend time together due to the sisterly bond that Defne and Yesim almost instantly develop, Yalin and Cinar’s relationship evolves from hatred to unexpected respect to full-on bromance throughout the series.
Deniz and Leyla’s sister, Ezgi, struggle to start and progress in a relationship because Ezgi’s history of being cheated on by her ex-fiancé makes it difficult for her to believe that she can trust someone with an infamous playboy lifestyle like Deniz’. Defne’s third brother, freighter captain Polat, and Deniz’s globetrotting sister, Nehir, are kindred spirits who share “wild child” backgrounds, initially hate each other, and get into quite a bit of trouble together. With time they realize they could potentially be a well-suited pair.
Defne and Cinar’s oldest brother, Toprak, rules his family with an iron fist and tries to block each of these budding relationships on the supposed basis of propriety. Toprak has been grumpy and miserable ever since his controlling and strict nature led Leyla to divorce him. As the saying goes, misery loves company, and Toprak inflicts quite a bit on those around him, particularly Defne and Yalin, often forbidding them to see each other. The key to Defne’s family’s happiness seems to be Toprak’s happiness in the form of a reunion with Leyla, which is easier said than done as Toprak’s temper is their biggest roadblock.
Yalin and Defne are physically and emotionally intimate in often surprising and unexpected ways for a dizi, particularly a comedic dizi. The realism in their interactions balances the sometimes kooky or silly tone of the series. Also seldom seen in a comedy is the push and pull between Toprak, other elder members of Defne and Yalin’s families, and the younger adults over acceptable behavior in romantic relationships. The restrictions placed on the female characters critically shine a light on the different expected standards for men and women.
External factors such as elder family members are not the biggest hurdles that Defne and Yalin have to cross to be together. Abandoned as a child by his mother when his parents divorced, Yalin resists believing that any love can last. Insisting that she will prove him wrong, Defne manages to open his mind and heart, but her constant fibbing and (well-intentioned) manipulations become impossible for Yalin to withstand. Their breakup and eventual reunion provide many of the meatiest and most emotionally involved scenes in the series.
Laugh tracks, silly sound effects, quirky background music, and fun dream sequences remind the viewer that while it is often dramatic and romantic, Inadina Ask is a comedy at its core. More specifically, it is a romantic comedy because, in this series notorious for an ending without an end, and despite warring families, mentally unstable kidnappers, accidental injuries, peculiar wedding ceremonies, and forced separations, Defne and Yalin prove that “love doesn’t end.”
Tarik and Itir live in the same neighborhood and have known each other all their lives. His mother, Adile, and her father, Munir, fight and argue constantly. Due to this animosity, when Tarik and Itir grow up and fall in love, they marry in secret. Never knowing that the reason Adile and Munir fight so much is that they were once in love but ended up marrying other people, Tarik and Itir return home following their wedding hoping to bring their families together.
Ferit is a smart and successful businessman and a born leader disciplined in all areas of his life, from work to temperament to fitness and health. He is particularly strict in regards to his home and those who work in it. His sleek, modern, and neat home has a metaphorical revolving door of housekeepers, groundskeepers, and chefs. As one is politely dismissed out the door by Ferit’s assistant, Ms. Ikbal, their replacement is soon after being welcomed in and given the list of rules for their new job. His staff’s workdays are structured so that Ferit and their paths never cross, and while he may be a mysterious and curious figure to his employees, they conversely never cross his mind.
Nazli is a young culinary student with a passion for Japanese culture and cuisine hired as Ferit’s new private chef. Nazli shares a small apartment with her childhood best friend and aspiring fashion designer, Fatos, who longs for a wealthy husband and younger sister, Asuman, a university underclassman and wannabe socialite. Money is tight for the middle-class trio, and Nazli hopes that her new job will help make ends meet and add prestige to her resume. When Nazli arrives for her first day at work, Ms. Ikbal warns her about how particular Ferit can be and presents her with a specific menu and guidelines for how she should prepare Ferit’s meals and maintain his kitchen. Nazli promptly puts her personal touches on it, much to Ferit’s initial annoyance and eventual enjoyment.
While Ferit is single and, much to his mother’s concern and disappointment, not looking for a romantic relationship or marriage, he is very family-oriented and, despite his disciplined and controlled nature, quite warmhearted with those in his tight inner circle. His most precious connections are his sister, Zeynep, her husband Demir, and their young son, Bulut. Demir and Ferit’s families have been connected in business since their parents were young, and Ferit considers Demir’s younger brother Deniz his own surrogate younger brother as well. Outside of family, Ferit is closest to his and Demir’s childhood friend, Engin. Ferit’s family sees the effect Nazli’s appearance and her unwillingness to play by his rules has had on Ferit and, despite his denials, see the potential for romance written on the wall.
The potential for love triangles is also there as Deniz has developed feelings for Nazli as well. Deniz has a second triangle on his hands as his former girlfriend and fellow musician, Ayla, is still in love with him. Fatos finds herself torn between Engin, the wealthy lover she’s always wished for, and Tarik, Ferit’s kind and down to earth driver whose interests closely match her own. Demet, Ferit’s former fiance, still seems to carry a torch for him despite his total disinterest and her jealous husband, Hakan.
Early in the series, tragedy strikes, and Ferit must take responsibility for Bulut. Ferit and Nazli (who has grown very close to the child) agree to engage in a fabricated marriage to help his chances of gaining custody of Bulut in an ensuing court battle with Demir and Deniz’ estranged sister, Demet. Demet genuinely wants to build a relationship with Bulut, but Hakan is more interested in gaining control of Bulut’s shares in the family company than in the child himself. Asuman is impressed with the chic and fashionable Demet, and when she presents Asuman with an opportunity to betray Ferit in exchange for monetary gain, Asuman takes it. As time goes on, Ferit and Nazli begin to care about each other deeply. Still, they continue to deny their feelings because Ferit’s anger over learning that Nazli covered up Asuman’s self-serving schemes even though they hurt Ferit’s chances at winning custody of Bulut leads to his inability to forgive or trust Nazli.
Devotion to Bulut and believing that the warmth and love she and Ferit can provide him as opposed to a home with an unfamiliar Demet and scheming, money-hungry Hakan convince Nazli to endure and stay married to Ferit despite his sometimes chilly demeanor. Still hurt over Nazli covering up Asuman’s schemes, Ferit begins to once again warm to Nazli as he cannot deny that she is doing her best to make things right and help him win permanent custody of Bulut, who she obviously adores. There is a perpetual “one step forward, two steps back” pattern in their relationship that culminates with Nazli leaving, unable to continue acting out a fake marriage while experiencing real love. Ferit tracks her down, and once alone and removed from exterior pressures and stresses, they finally declare their mutual love.
By the end of the series, which concludes with a music-filled New Year’s Eve celebration, after many trials, tribulations, and revelations, all triangles sort themselves out, all parties become clear on where and with who their hearts lie, Bulut is settled in a safe and happy home, and everyone rings hopeful new beginnings with toasts, fireworks, and a surprise snowfall.
Sanem is an aspiring writer who daydreams of visiting the Galapagos Islands and seeing the albatross, a bird known for long flights around the world that only comes to land when absolutely necessary or to settle once it’s found its mate for life. An early bird who opens up and works in her parents’ grocery store each morning, Sanem is no closer to finding a career than she is a husband. To push her out of her comfort zone, her mother threatens to agree to an arranged marriage between Sanem and the boy next door unless she gets out of the house and gets a job. Refusing to marry without being in love, Sanem promptly applies for and secures an internship at the advertising agency where her older sister works.
Can Divit is the ad agency owner’s oldest son. He is a world renowned photographer who circles the globe as he moves from project to project. He feels constrained whenever he stays in one place for too long, loves the freedom traveling for his art affords him and returns home to Istanbul only for short occasional trips to see his family. He is the human embodiment of the albatross. Naturally, Can and Sanem are fated to cross paths. As a twist on the traditional love at first sight trope, Can and Sanem first meet in a dark theater and fall in love first touch and scent. Erkenci Kus is 51 episodes of pure romance-both the idyllic fairy tale type and the sometimes angsty and occasionally difficult realistic-in which Can and Sanem’s epic love story becomes the subject of her first best-selling novel.
Bay Yanlis asks the question “Love or logic?… Which are you ruled by?”. Ozgur Atasoy is a wealthy, successful bar and restaurant owner. In his own words, his took his love of the nightlife and turned it into a career. He is a warm, compassionate friend and a caring son and brother but true to his name, he loves freedom and has no interest in a relationship that lasts longer than one night. His life is based on the pursuit of fun and thrills, and love does not factor in.
Ezgi Inal is a lover of love. She wants nothing more than to be married and have a family. She also has a knack for ending up in relationships with men who do not share these goals and treat her badly. When destiny keeps throwing Ozgur and Ezgi into each others’ paths, they decide to use their differences to their advantage and help each other get what they want. Ezgi agrees to pose as Ozgur’s girlfriend so that his mother will think that he’s in a committed relationship and stop worrying over his playboy reputation (he’s been dubbed “Mr. Wrong” in the press). In exchange, Ozgur agrees to coach Ezgi and teach her the rules of relationships so that she can stop making the same mistakes over and over and so that her next relationship will result in marriage. Modern, smart and refreshing, Bay Yanlis shows that through their interactions, Ezgi becomes more logical and Ozgur becomes a bit less wrong…time will tell if he ends up being her Mr. Right after all.