In Latin American television, the telenovela rules all. These drama and romance packed series dominate the tv and you can catch everyone from little kids to old señoras glued to the screen to get their fix of their favorite stories. And although I’m not too fond of the novela (I find the overblown drama and sweeping romantic plots quite ridiculous), I have noticed that the novelas from Turkey are wildly popular here. One Thousand and One Nights, Feriha’s Secret, Black Rose (my host family’s favorite), Prohibited Love, and Fatmagül are all imports that have found their way into the hearts and homes of the
Peruvian household – So much so that there has been a surge of kids born with Turkish names like “Onur” and “Sherezade.”
But why is that? I mean, Latin America is the birthplace of the telenovela, right? They’re the experts at pumping these things out like it’s nobody’s business so it seems unlikely that a small time Turkish novela market would even come close to infiltrating.
Well folks, the story actually begins in Chile in 2014 where by chance, a Chilean network imported the series One Thousand and One Nights. It quickly became an overnight success and spread to other countries including Peru. Left hungering for more Turkish melodramatic goodness, Peruvian networks, like Latina, started shelling out the big bucks to import more. According to some folks, these overnight show sensations became so popular because they already share a lot of the themes and values of the novelas that are born and bread in Latin America.This means, plot lines that focus on tumultuous or forbidden loves and families that stick together through thick and thin set against the societal problems of the day. The International Business Times even says that the Turkish shows do a great job with attracting little old señoras because they tend to be more conservative than the new risque generation of Latin American produced shows. Go
Just to give you all some perspective, about ten years ago, Turkish television exports only brought in about 1 million per year and today, they’re raking in a whopping 350 million annually, thank in large part to Latin American consumers. Now that’s what you call a come up! And in a trip he made to the region earlier this year, Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, even shouted out the international success of Turkish television saying, “We see this visit as a step at the right time. We can see that the people of two countries, which live far away from each other, meet along common cultural themes. In this respect, the acceptance of Turkish [TV] series has pleased us.”
Even though I am not an avid watcher and these shows present a limited view of the Turkish people, I still think its pretty cool Peruvian folks get to learn a little bit about Turkey – a country that most Peruvians would otherwise see as a distant land they would have never thought about before these prime time dramas hit the scene. And in that way, these two seemingly unconnected people and cultures separated by vast landmasses as well as oceans, can find some common ground.
Shout out to globalization!
Want more Turkey in Peru? Check out this post here.