A typical mahalle in Istanbul, Turkey.
What is a neighborhood? And why does the mahalle (which means neighborhood in Turkish) always play a role in every Turkish dizi?
From the STANDS4 Network (at www.definitions.net): “Mahalle” is an Arabic word that was adopted into Turkish. Variously translated, it means district, ward, or neighborhood. The mahalle is generally perceived to play an important role in identity formation and lies at the intersection of private family life and the public sphere.”
Taking this definition into context, for me the simplest meaning of “neighborhood” is where you spent your childhood. For many people, it is where they will live their entire lives. Whether you grew up in a large city, a small town, or even in the country in a farming community… if there was family, friends and neighbors who were part of your life growing up, childhood friends you played with and went to school with, this was your neighborhood. You were sheltered, safe and protected. In this circle, people know your name and are familiar with practically everything about you and your family, from birth until death. and likely everything in between.
In the South of the United States where I grew up and still live, this can be both a good and a bad thing. Since all the neighbors know your entire family, many times even your deceased grandparents and aunts and uncles, you cannot get away with much. Sometimes you can even feel smothered by too much advice and very little privacy. This is especially true for teenagers because your parents knew what you had been up to before you even got back home. The majority of the time, however, it is a good and positive thing to have so much love and protection from family, friends and neighbors.
I think the reason the mahalle features so heavily in Turkish dizis and films is because it reflects the reality of family life in Turkey. It is especially fun and interesting to watch this dynamic in Turkish romantic comedies because the neighborhoods are so encapsulated. They are like many small towns inside a bigger city. Each mahalle is unique with its own characteristics, traditions, and many times very quirky personalities.
Life in Turkish neighborhoods can be comical. This makes for interesting scenes and interaction between the characters in the storylines presented in the Turkish dizi. In Turkish actor Can Yaman’s series, in particular the 2018-2019 series of “Erkenci Kus” (“Early Bird”), it is the daily life of the mahalle that provides the background for presenting the loveable, and sometimes annoying, characters that are full of the love, humor and drama that we all enjoy watching so much.
Written exclusively for Can Yaman International by Sandra Allen; @SAllen68 on Wattpad.
Edited by Mary Bloyd, Resident Editor for Can Yaman International.
1 – “mahalle.” Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 25 Jan. 2021. https://www.definitions.net/definition/mahalle.
2 -Various episodes from the 2018-2019 “Erkenci Kus” series from Gold Film Productions starring Turkish actor Can Yaman.
3 – Episode Guide of “Erkenci Kus” for reference at https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8478162/.