By Teddie Potter
*This article contains spoilers for the series Gumus.
All 100 episodes of Gumus, (2005-2007), took me a good long time to finish. I watched Gumus in two halves, with nearly a year passing before I picked up the second 50 or so episodes. Tonight, I finally finished this classic Turkish series.
I understand that Gumus was a huge gateway for Turkish drama spreading to the Arab world and beyond. I could see why this show touched so many across multiple cultures. A love story, a story of family, and customs, and culture and righteousness. In this story, love ultimately wins out, family unity remains intact, and the less fortunate prosper if they are good and deserving and work hard.
Mehmet Sadoglu, the scion of a wealthy family, is reeling after the death of his fiancée Nihan. In the hopes of setting Mehmet back on track, his patriarchal grandfather arranges Mehmet’s marriage to Gumus, a young woman from the country. Mehmet is a reluctant and recalcitrant groom, while Gumus is thrilled to finally marry her childhood crush. We find Gumus to be a woman who is sometimes naive, frequently maddening, and typically stubborn, yet ultimately a person of integrity and devotion. Through Gumus’s patience and tenacity, their marriage becomes one of trust and love, despite many missteps and challenges.
Numerous Sadoglu siblings and cousins pass through the salons and grounds of the opulent Sadoglu mansion, and carry over to the office suites and businesses of the Sadoglu empire. Their stories, complete with marriages, quarrels, family strife, precocious children, and new chances at love create intersecting arcs of this great big story.
In keeping with most Turkish drama, beautiful Istanbul is a character unto itself, and I envied the gorgeous views from the Sadoglu mansion. In a more frivolous moment, I envisioned Gumus and Mehmet sliding right off those slippery-looking gold satin sheets and sailing right into the sparkling Bosporus below!
The obligatory hospitals, court rooms, board rooms, jails, and police stations figure in, along with meddlesome relatives, household staff, and petty criminals. Well, we are talking Turkish drama, aren’t we?
Early on I was distracted, notably by the fashions, and hair and make-up which were frequently a bit off, and occasionally laugh-out-loud amusing. Lots of iridescent green and blue eyeshadow (Bahar, girlfriend, please!), tight trousers (careful, Seref hanim!), and unflattering baggy worn-out jeans on the menfolk. In the winter time in Istanbul, argyle sweaters took center stage, followed by gym suits in the summer.
Gumus’s frumpy sweaters gave way to skinny jeans, and sister Pinar’s bohemian get-ups spoke to her artistic soul. Seref sashayed her way through life, with her flaming red coiffures and perfect make up, confident in her role as the lady of the Sadoglu mansion. Until a certain suitor for grandpa Sadoglu shows up, that is, and threatens the order of the mansion and rattles Seref’s sense of self-identity.
In this early dizi, the actors perhaps looked more like everyday people, as opposed to the more sophisticated and model-perfect stars we tend to see in Turkish drama today, with one notable exception: Kivanc Tatlitug. Kivanc’s portrayal of Mehmet in this very early role, and even with a dubbed-in voice, is an immediate stand-out. His Mehmet is a somewhat immature and spoiled young man, struggling with grief and family pressures. Fresh-faced and green, Kivanc’s natural talent and easy physicality sends Mehmet’s essentially good character straight into my heart. By the time the third season rolls around, Kivanc masterfully owns the screen.
100 episodes is indeed a huge investment. Despite Mehmet’s life-threatening health crisis starting at around episode 97, replete with prolonged and tearful bedside entreaties and a number of mournful montages accompanied by sad-sounding Turkish songs, we all survive.
There are some quirks. Characters disappear, never to be seen again, and sadly, Mehmet Fikri (played by the esteemed Ekrem Bora) was gone without a trace. At the turn of the new season, the character of Berk was replaced by a different actor. Inexplicably, Bahar’s voice is dubbed in by someone else’s for the final two episodes. Tantrums include pulling the table cloth out from under the plates and silverware; I recall both Gumus and Seref each trying to pull off that old magic trick; rather unsuccessfully, I’m sorry to say.
I love the way it ends—13 years have passed and Gumus’s journal-writing continues. We are treated to a vignette of each of the main characters’ current lives with growing children, a bit more gray hair, problems smoothed out and looking settled and happy .
Seref has softened and found a love of her own; Bahar finds joy in a newly found parent, and her son has his own Dede. Surprisingly, Gumus and Mehmet are going to be parents again. Berk gains security and happiness. Meanwhile, another couple, also named Gumus and Mehmet, are paving the way for the next generation of the Sadoglu family.
And Kivanc? In this breakthrough role, his growth as an actor is beautifully reflected as the character of Mehmet matures and grows. A joy to watch, we are unmistakably witnessing the progressive development of this singular actor.
So what do I watch next? Something with Kivanc, of course!
Teddie Potter discovered Kivanc and dizis in 2016, and hasn't looked back since. American born, and of Greek-Cypriot descent, Teddie has also blogged for Outlandercast.com and Dizidivas.com. She is a long-time Registered Nurse working in Brain Injury rehabilitation, and lives with her family in New Jersey.
@Copyright by Kivanc Tatlitug North America and Teddie Potter