Number 190 | January 13, 2012
Excerpted from an article by Karolina Tagaris, Reuters, published on January 5, 2012.
“It all began when crisis-stricken Greek TV channels realized that buying the glitzy tales of forbidden love, adultery, clan loyalties and betrayal from long-standing regional rival Turkey, was cheaper than filming their own. The action-packed dramas quickly came to dominate the ratings despite the fact that they are broadcast in Turkish with only subtitles in Greek and have gained a devoted following among a Greek populace disheartened by the country's biggest financial crisis in decades.
“So fascinated are Greeks with the shows, that groups have started organizing trips to the island of Buyukada off the coast of Istanbul just to gawk at the set of one of the hit dramas, "Kismet."
“TV ratings for the shows in the small country of 11 million reached 40 percent in the summer, knocked off the top spot only by the occasional Champions League soccer match.
"I realized hatred is manufactured by the guys at the top," said Angeliki Papathanasiou, a 21-year-old law student. "You don't see the bad enemy, you see the real Turk who falls in love, who gets hurt, who is like us," she said of the shows.
“As a result, dozens of Greek fan pages on Facebook are peppered with Turkish words like "harika" (wonderful) and "guzel" (beautiful). Some Greek magazines have started giving away CDs for intensive Turkish lessons.
“They are also a trip down memory lane to days when the economy was better, traditions were cherished, shoe polishers worked every corner and the local grocery store was a point of reference.
"'Ezel' and the other series portray a lost dimension of Greek society that has been buried in recent years," novelist Nikos Heiladakis wrote in a local newspaper article about the success of one crime drama. "It awakens in today's Greek a lost identity," he wrote.”