In July 2020, Netflix confirmed the production cancellation of their original Turkish drama series ‘If Only’; because of pressures from local higher authorities. They basically demanded the OTP to delete a gay character narrative from the script. Read on to know what happened next.
Why The Local Authorities Did Not Approve The Show?
This eight part romance drama was officially by the streaming giant back in March. If Only was ready to feature the Turkish movie star Özge Özpirinççi, and it was produced by Ay Yapim, a Turkish shingle.
But after the local authorities refused to give this show a filming because of the homosexual character existence in the script, Netflix decided to pull the plug at the end. Instead of removing a character from the script, this OTP moghul decided to cancel the show altogether.
Ece Yörenç, If Only’s creator, said to the Turkish film website Altyazi Fasikul , “Due to a gay character, permission to film the series was not granted and this is very frightening for the future.”
If Only is a story that follows Reyhan, a married woman who is not happy in the relationship. She however, travels 30 years back in time; and lands right at the moment when her husband got down on one knee to propose her. The filming of this series had already commenced; with the show’s lead and movie star Özge Özpirinçci posting an image from the set on her social media in July.
A spokesperson for Justice and Development party, the ruling party, acknowledged the issues raised by Turkish authorities regarding the script. He said, “Must we collectively apologise to Netflix? What do they want from us? Do we have to bless everything Netflix makes, find it proper and sanctify it? Is there no subject where we have a right to raise reservations?”
However, a spokesperson from Netflix said in response: “Netflix remains deeply committed to our Turkish members and the creative community in Turkey. We are proud of the incredible talent we work with. “We currently have several Turkish originals in production – with more to come – and look forward to sharing these stories with our members all around the world.”
The Protector, which premiered back in 2018, is Netflix’s first ever Turkish original drama. This streaming moghul ever since doubled down on local shows in 2019, which also includes The Gift.
Netflix has a policy to compulsorily follow local regulations, for creating original content. It is now yet to be seen how this censorship from the Turkish government will impact their local storytelling.
This Is The First Time:
It’s the first time that Turkey’s local authorities directly involved to cut off a Netflix original in their territory. Furthermore, a representative from Netflix also noted that many other shows with LGBTQIA+ content aired uncensored on the Turkish platform; shows like Orange Is the New Black or Ryan Murphy’s Hollywood etc. The company however had flat out denied any accusations about the fact that they edited out a gay character; from one of their Turkish original content, Love 101, because of pressure from Ankara.
The government in Ankara declared that the show violated all of their censorship laws; because the show had a depiction of the fictional Turkish leader as a villain. Troy Caylak a famous actor played this role.
“We did not edit Love 101 to remove an LGBTQ character from the show — there never was one in the first place,” Netflix said at that time.
But this definitely is not the first time that Turkey decided to censor Netflix. Earlier this year, the Turkish local authorities issued a take-down order. The order was passed because of an episode from Designated Survivor, a political thriller. This show still streams on Netflix in Turkey.
Post the show’s cancellation, showrunner and producer Yörenç retweeted a quote that Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, had said back in 2018. Reportedly, he told Hürriyet, a Turkish newspaper that he did not possess concerns of any sort when it comes censorship in this nation. “We’re in Saudi Arabia. We’re in Pakistan. If there are no problems there, will we have problems in Turkey? I can’t imagine that,” he told reportedly
Homosexuality Is Not Illegal In Turkey:
Homosexuality has always been legal in Turkey, from ages to be honest. Ever since the inception of the Turkish modern state back in 1923. However, but there always have been laws in their books with regards to “offenses against public morality”. These have been invoked and interpreted as tools to be used against the local LGBTQIA+ community.