“Gelinim Olur Musun?” was a Turkish reality TV show that aired in 2004. The show’s objective was to arrange a marriage between one of the female contestants and one of the male contestants. However, the twist of this basic premise was the addition of the mother of the potential groom.
When translated directly, the title of the contest means “Will you be my bride?”, which sounds perfectly normal. However, it requires scrutiny. The common marriage proposal phrase in Turkish is “Benimle evlenir misin?”, which translates into “Will you marry me?”. This phrase does not change depending on whether it is the male or the female proposing (It is important to note that homosexual marriages are still prohibited by law in Turkey and therefore this sentence is politically correct). In addition to all of this, colloquially, a man in Turkey would not call the woman he is marrying his “gelin” (bride), rather, he would call her his “nişanlı” (fiancée), “sözlü” (promised), “karı” (wife) or his “eş” (match, equal) even if they are not married yet. By the same token, the woman who is getting married is, as far as relationship titles go, considered the “gelin” (bride) of her soon to be mother-in-law and father-in-law (so rather to the family that is taking her in than her soon to be husband), and that is permanent. Thus, all things considered, it can be seen that the title of this show, “Gelinim olur musun?” is a marriage proposal from one of the parents of the potential groom to the potential bride.
As was discussed in our lecture, reality TV shows represent the societies they originate from. This representation, in many case, can be through exaggeration, but even then it carries an important message related to the actual “reality”. This show can be analysed bearing that in mind.
Assuming we know nothing about the show except for the title, we can still derive quite a lot about the Turkish culture through this competition, since the title is very significant in advertisement. From the analysis above, we can see that the title is obviously the mother talking to the woman she wants her son to marry. This points to the old Turkish tradition of the parents of the children arranging the marriages through their own judgements. These judgements are usually related to; whether the other family has a good reputation, whether that family’s child is qualified to fulfil their roles in the newly formed family (if a girl, then whether she can cook and clean and get pregnant; if a guy, then how much money he brings in), and what others would think about this match. Although this procedure is quite rare in urban areas, it is still practiced by traditional families, and this reality TV show depicts that tradition.
All in all, even though we cannot say we can learn everything related to the Turkish culture by scrutinising this competition, it is obvious that we can figure out simple, yet significant things related to the society that the show is produced for.