“The Dirt, and the Soap, on the Ottoman Empire” – New York Times

“For the show’s producers, it is nothing less than a Magnificent Controversy.

“Muhtesem Yuzyil,” or “Magnificent Century,” a lavish prime time soap opera about the life of Suleiman the Magnificent and Hurrem, the slave who became his powerful wife, is as admired here as it is reviled.

Suleiman ruled the Ottoman Empire from 1520 to 1566 at the height of its glory and is still revered as Kanuni, or Lawgiver.

The series attracted a wave of protests from irate viewers and even government officials. Critics said it was disrespectful to the sultan because it showed him drinking alcohol — banned in Islam — and womanizing with concubines in the harem. They also complain that its scriptwriters take liberties with historical events and depictions of royal lives.

Still, despite warnings from the government media regulator, or perhaps because of them, ratings remain sky high on Wednesday nights as each colorful chapter of fictionalized history unfolds.

After receiving what it said was more than 70,000 complaints when the drama first aired in January, the Supreme Board of Radio and Television, known by the Turkish acronym RTUK, said that Show TV, the channel broadcasting the series, had wrongly exposed “the privacy of a historical person” and owed the public an apology. […]”

Source : New York Times

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