Avrupa Yakasi was Turkey’s one of the most popular sitcoms in 2000s. The leading character Asli was played by Gulse Birsel who also wrote the script for the show that is not adopted into Turkish TV from another TV series. “Avrupya Yakasi” or “European Side” basically represents the western part of the metropolitan city of Istanbul. Asli lives in Nisantasi strict with her nuclear family which consists her brother, mother and father. They live in the Nisantasi district of Istanbul which is an important detail for the series because Nisantasi district represents the luxurious life style of the elites of Istanbul. Asli works as a columnist in a fashion magazine called Avrupa Yakasi which has the same title with the series. Most of the main characters in the series are well-educated, rich people who spend their time by hanging out in the jazz bars and shopping. Although Asli’s family live in the Nisantasi district they have a more conservative life style compared to Asli’s friends. They own a family restaurant in the district which serves classical Turkish food including desserts like Sutlac, Kazandibi… In the first season of the series, Asli’s mother, Iffet, forces her to make a arranged marriage with a low-class man from their hometown. But Asli falls in love with the manager of the fashion magazine Cem, who had his degrees from prestigious schools and had lived abroad for couple of years. I think this situation represents the contradictory minds and life styles of Turkish people as going abroad for an education is considered as high-class and making an arranged marriage is considered as low-class that only people living in the rural areas can do. Therefore the comedy mostly relies on these different life styles of “European”-“Asian” Turks and the interestingly different reactions they develop towards real-life situations.
Some of the things that Ugur Zeynep Guven talks in “Social Class and Family On Screen: Do Prime-Time Television Series ‘Create’ Images of Family in Turkey?” are the class struggle and financial status vs. happiness. She states that most TV series represent middle-class families who have to deal with the real life problem’s as happy. On the other hand rich people are mostly depicted as miserable and stressed. One of the most common plots in TV series is the struggle of a family member who belongs to lower or middle class and strives to reach to the level of high class people. But mostly, this family member finds her disconnected from his/her beloved family and feels like he/she had lost the once well-respected values like religion or tradition.
Avrupa Yakasi actually both reinforces and disproves Guven’s ideas. The series include middle-class characters like Asli who feel more confident and happy in the upper class life while having economical and family problems. On the other hand the series include middle-low-class people who are trying to fit in the luxurious life style of Nisantasi while experiencing cultural struggles: Burhan is another employee that works as a financial manager in the Avrupa Yakasi Magazine. He comes from Tokat, the heart of Anatolia. Most of the time he tries to act like the upper class people such as complimenting his coworker’s dresses but ends up as a creepy person who gets humiliated by such behaviors.
This mini-clip shows how contradictory Burhan and Asli characters emphasize the composite structure of Turkish society.