By HATICE KÜBRA KULA
“New period television series launched in an attempt to share the history of the country with viewers, who have tuned in by the millions, have been on the receiving end of harsh criticism after claims that the series distorts the truth about historical events and figures.
The wave of harsh criticisms began with the launch of the TV series “Muhteşem Yüzyıl” (Magnificent Century), which is based on the life of Ottoman Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent and his love for Hürrem Sultan, a former slave who eventually became the sultan’s wife. Critics have argued that the costumes the actors and actresses wear in the series do not reflect the design of the clothing worn by members of the Ottoman dynasty but are rather similar to those used in the historical English TV series “Tudors,” which is about the reign and marriages of King Henry VIII. Also labeled by many as a “fake Tudors,” Magnificent Century has been criticized for its plot, which focuses on the harem life of Süleyman, about which, according to historians, there is no detailed account.
The negative reaction to historical series continued after “Bir Zamanlar Osmanlı: Kıyam” (Once Upon A Time in the Ottoman Empire: Rebellion), a series about significant events that took place in 18th-century Ottoman times such as the Patrona Halil Rebellion, started broadcasting in 2012. Viewers initially said the series, which was launched as a rival to Magnificent Century, was initially devoid of realistic characters and a consistent plot. The series underwent significant changes in the past year, including a change in the plot, and technical problems were also solved by producers.
Other television series such as “Seksenler” (The 80s), which revolves around the lives of people living in the1980s in the aftermath of a bloody coup d’état and “Öyle Bir Geçer Zaman ki” (As Time Goes By), which concentrates on the conflicts among members of a family living in the 1960s, have received similar criticism from historians.
Such series, however, have also revived people’s interest in historical figures and events. There has been a sharp increase in the publication and sale of books about history, according to historians. Women’s demand for accessories and jewelry worn by the main characters of these series has created new market opportunities. Historians have started to hold discussions about the figures and incidents in a number of TV programs with the aim of correcting the mistakes in the period TV series.
Ahmet Yaşar, a lecturer from Fatih University’s department of history, commented on the revival of interest in history through these series, saying they help people gain knowledge about history. However, Yaşar also criticized the series, noting that their producers can make changes or additions to historical events in order to increase ratings, adding that such changes or additions should only be made if there is no exaggeration. Yaşar said most people watch these series as if they reflect historical realities without questioning their authenticity, which makes it more important that they consult factual resources such as history texts.
Another historian, who wanted to remain anonymous, stated that the ideological views of the series’ producers also affect the way the characters and plot are rendered. The historian further commented that such TV series have unfortunately become a part of popular culture.
Followers of TV series, speaking to Sunday’s Zaman, talked about their positive and negative views on such series. Tülin Öksüz, a history gradate, noted that the series most of the time only focus on some particular figures and incidents, failing to talk about the lives of the common people, in which people are interested. Aynur Sezen, a fan of Magnificent Century, stated that the series contributes to her knowledge of history although at times the facts are not correct and events that did not occur in a particular period are depicted, which negatively affects the credibility of the series.
Zeliha Karlı, a housewife, noted that historical facts are merely touched upon with elaboration, which is why she chooses to avoid watching them. “However, I wonder if details about the historic figures and incidents were shared in a factual and detailed manner, would they be watched by as many people?” she said. “It is only the series that are set in more recent history that are credible for me since I know what happened during those times and can decide if the incidents are true or distorted,” noted Karlı.”
Source : Today’s Zaman