foreign affairs

How Different Is Med Cezir, the Turkish O.C., From the American O.C.?

Two weeks ago, we told you that Turkey was now producing its own version of The O.C. What you might not have known is that the expensive, much-hyped new show, called Med Cezir (which translates as “The Tide,” though elsewhere they seem to be calling it Ebb and Tide) is already airing: It premiered on Friday, September 13, and is proving to be quite well liked. Being Turkish, I couldn’t help but watch. And it’s not bad, in a ridiculously soap-opera-ish way. Here are the ways that the Turkish O.C. is different from the American O.C. (at least so far).

Med Cezir Is Way More Melodramatic Than The O.C.
Apparently this is possible. But the Turks have a pretty high threshold for melodrama, and Med Cezir, even though it follows the plot of The O.C. pretty rigorously, ups the ante on the theatrics. The first episode alone has three beatings as well as an attempted murder. The Turkish Ryan Atwood (played in the original by Ben McKenzie), here called Yaman Koper (played by Çağatay Ulusoy, already a big star), has an even sadder sob story than he did in the original series. (We even get a flashback to when he and his brother, as little kids, were first introduced to their mom’s new abusive husband. It’s really upsetting!) And Med Cezir’s version of Sandy Cohen (Peter Gallagher), here known as Selim Serez (Barış Falay), identifies even more closely with Ryan/Yaman — pretty much every five minutes or so, he mentions the fact that he had a terrible, impoverished childhood just like Yaman’s.

Part of this is because Turkish TV dramas do big business in other countries in the Middle East and the Balkans — and nothing sells better than melodrama in this part of the world. It’ll be interesting to see where this all goes — obviously, The O.C. went to some pretty dark places, with Marissa’s suicide attempt and her later … well, you know. But that sort of stuff is so commonplace in Turkish TV shows and movies that I wouldn’t be surprised if they found a way to make it much more extreme.

The Music
Let’s face it, without that awesomely eclectic indie-rock soundtrack, The O.C. would never have been The O.C. But the Turkish iteration, aside from a few instances of characters listening to pop songs in their cars or whatever, features a lilting, orchestral score that’s upholstered generously throughout the show and gives it all an epic kick — it’s more Dynasty than The O.C., really. That said, I’m still holding out hope that a Turkish cover of “Hallelujah” is on the horizon.

More Grown-ups
While Med Cezir follows the plot of the original O.C. extremely closely, it also features many, many more scenes involving the parents of our teenage heroes. There’s a very good reason for that, which is that a massive chunk of Turkish drama viewers are older, and they’re bound to be a lot more interested in the dilemmas of the parents, with their financial shenanigans and their adulterous longings and their run-ins with the law. (Also, an average Turkish drama episode is about twice as long as an American one, so they have to pump up the story somehow.)

The Style
Even though the director known as McG (Charlie’s Angels) was among the visionaries behind The O.C., the original show’s style was set in its opening episodes by director and executive producer Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity), who used lots of ground-level, handheld shots to give the drama a sense of urgency. Med Cezir, on the other hand, is much more composed, utilizing lots of sweeping crane shots that take in the grandiosity of the mansions and manicured lawns and beaches of its locale — since that’s what Turkish viewers, most of whom don’t live in their own houses, will be tuning in to see.

Turkey’s Orange County Is Nothing Like Orange County (Though Admittedly, Neither Was The O.C.’s).
Med Cezir
is filmed in Tuzla, an extremely high-end suburb of Istanbul, but it’s presented here as a very small, incredibly rich, and extremely insular fantasyland that makes the Newport Beach of The O.C. look positively diverse by comparison.

(Probably) No Chrismukkah
Since Turkey is a predominantly Muslim country, it is highly unlikely that we will get any Chrismukkah episodes. However, given how closely Med Cezir seems to be following The O.C.’s plot, it will be interesting to see how they’ll deal with it.

The Turkish Version of Luke Ward Is a Way Bigger Jerk
On The O.C., at least initially, Luke Ward (Chris Carmack) was depicted as a cocky, dim jock who nevertheless had a couple of redemptive moments — such as when he notably risked his life to save Ryan from a burning model home in the second episode and even accepted part of the blame for the fire. The Turkish version, Orkun (Metin Akdülger), has all the cockiness and preening sense of entitlement, but little else. In fact, in episode two, when the other guys in his crew are yelling that they have to go back and save Yaman from the burning house, he ignores them. The only reason he does go in, eventually, is because he sees the cops arrive and realizes he’s going to look like a tool if he doesn’t. And after the fire, he boasts to everybody within earshot about how he bravely went in and saved Yaman, claiming that he was just passing by when he saw the fire. Anyway, he’s in no way likable, even just a little bit. Which brings us to …

“Welcome, Dead Meat!” Is No “Welcome to the O.C., Bitch!”
While there are lots and lots of ways to say bitch in Turkish, the producers of Med Cezir decided to go in another direction when translating Luke’s infamous catchphrase. After beating Yaman up (and, by the way, the beating is far worse in the Turkish version than in the American one, because Turks like to go all the way when they fight), Orkun taunts him with, “Aramıza hoşgeldin leş,” which translates, roughly, as “Welcome among us, dead meat.” (Leş, pronounced “lesh,” is a word describing an animal corpse, but it’s also often used to describe anything that’s nasty or smells badly or whatever.) And while there appear to have been some attempts to try to make the expression catch on, it’s probably not going to have the same staying power.

The O.C. vs. Med Cezir, the Turkish O.C.