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Best Turkish TV Series Guide: Turkish TV Shows 2019

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The best way to learn a language quickly is a technique called language immersion. In short, this means exposing yourself to a language with bilingual aids (such as translations or subtitles). Learning Turkish by watching Turkish TV series with English subtitles is a quick and efficient way to excel in understanding Turkish.

Those who wish to understand Turkish better before they visit the country can especially benefit from such a technique. The greatest problem foreign language-learners face is a lack of opportunities to hear the language being spoken by native speakers.

To communicate easily, you’ll need to be comfortable with the language. It helps to accustom oneself to the rhythms and sounds of a foreign language. This is a concept called “hearsay” or “ear fullness.” Many people have achieved ear fullness through watching shows and movies on TV.

If you’re planning to understand and speak to Turkish people while visiting the country, immersing yourself in as much spoken Turkish as possible is the best way to prepare. When visiting a foreign country, your foremost concerns will be:

  1. To understand the spoken language
  2. To be able to clearly communicate your needs.

There are plenty of Turkish language resources to make use of, but watching Turkish TV shows takes the “booky” feel out of language-learning.

There’s a lot to choose from: comedies, action-packed dramas, melodramas…etc. It’s easy to find Turkish TV shows with English subtitles anywhere, from YouTube to Netflix and other web sources. Below, we’ve compiled a list of Turkish TV series that may be found on these sources, as well as a list of shows that take place in locations you may want to visit.

If you’re wondering how to watch Turkish TV shows to learn Turkish, we do recommend that you build some foundation before you start watching. TurkishClass101 has loads of resources, like lists of:

A good command of basic everyday Turkish or conversational Turkish will give you a boost in strengthening your language skills through listening. Doing some listening comprehension exercises will help you get more out of your language immersion adventure.

And since a lot of Turkish TV shows involve daily life and daily speech patterns, having a good grasp of commonly used phrases is essential. You don’t need to know a lot about grammar to be able to speak Turkish. One easy way to speed up your speaking skills is to know a few sentence structures.

Before we begin with our Turkish TV show list, here are a couple of points to keep in mind:

  • Don’t shy away from watching these shows if you’re a beginner. Keep your lists and lesson notes handy, and don’t forget to follow those subtitles!
  • Reading subtitles in English will help you keep up with the meanings, and you might need to pause more than a couple of times. But, as you get better, the ideal thing is to follow the shows with Turkish subtitles. This will help you in the future to improve your written Turkish.

Table of Contents

  1. Turkish TV Shows – A Brief History
  2. Turkish TV Series on Netflix
  3. Turkish TV Series on YouTube
  4. Turkish TV Shows According to Geographical Location
  5. Conclusion: How TurkishClass101 Can Help You Learn More Turkish

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1. Turkish TV Shows – A Brief History

Improve Listening

After the establishment of the official Turkish Broadcasting Corporation (TRT) in 1964, there was a long period where there was only one channel broadcasting nationally. This was called the “one-channel period.” In 1992, commercial channels started to appear. By the year 2000, Turkish TV shows had improved by leaps and bounds, and they were receiving international awards and recognition.

Some shows, especially the ones produced by TRT, have a higher level of quality and linguistic/artistic complexity:

  • Many are adaptations from Turkish literary works.
  • Some are more appropriate for tourists who want to learn modern Turkish quickly and easily.
  • Others, like the more classical ones, may demonstrate older, classical language that’s not relevant to modern-day Turkey.

In this article, we’ve tried to stay away from the latter Turkish series online and recommend the more appropriate and relevant ones instead.

Turkish TV series have become very popular worldwide, making them easy to access them online. In particular, Turkish TV shows and Turkish TV dramas have become highly popular in many countries around the world.

Now, without further ado, here’s our Turkish TV shows list, featuring a sampling of the best Turkish series ever!

2. Turkish TV Series on Netflix

Looking for the best Turkish TV shows on Netflix? Here are our picks for must-watch Turkish TV shows on this popular streaming service.

1. Resurrection – Ertuğrul

This show has been nicknamed “the Turkish Game of Thrones,” but for real. Although this is a historical drama, the language used is close to modern Turkish. It’s a fact that the Turkish spoken in today’s Turkey is closer to the Turkish spoken by the Turkic people in Central Asia. This show is considered one of the best Turkish TV dramas. It is named after Ertuğrul, father of Osman I, who founded the Ottoman state.

Ottoman Turkish is a mixture of Turkish, Persian, and Arabic words. But this wasn’t the language used in the early period of the Ottoman State.

The language is easy to follow and there’s plenty of action to keep you interested in the plot while your ears can feast on the language.

  • Eyvallah (a phrase used to thank someone, which literally means “I thank God first” in English)
  • Hamdolsun (I praise God)
  • Beyim (My lord)
  • Hatun (Lady)
  • Ata (Father or ancestor)

2. Leyla ile Mecnun (A Love Story)

This is a modern-day retelling of the famous Middle Eastern folk tale, in which literary figures appear in modern-day Turkey (specifically Istanbul). This is a Turkish TV show comedy which displays various cultural aspects of the Turkish people. It’s a good choice for those who would like to learn a bit about Turkish/Middle Eastern culture.

Leyla is the daughter of a well-off family and Mecnun is from a poor family. They love each other, but it takes a lot for them to unite. This version is more of a comedy than the classical tale.

Words to know:

  • Ak sakallı dede (white-bearded grandpa; wise old man)
  • Beşik kertmesi (betrothed in the cradle)
  • Derviş (dervish; pious man)
  • Evlat (child; offspring)
  • Mecnun (crazy; love crazy)
  • Leyla (beloved or literally “the night” when translated)
  • Çay (tea)
  • Bakkal (small neighborhood store)
  • Allah Allah! (For the love of God!)

3. Beni Böyle Sev (Love Me as I Am)

Zeynep Çamcı, an Actress in Beni Boyle Sev

Photo by Kerem20, under Creative Commons

Here’s another romantic comedy focusing on the younger Turkish population. This show takes place on a private university campus, and is a story of the love between a poor girl and a rich boy. The language is easy to follow and reflects the culture of modern-day youngsters. You’ll also hear a lot of relationship names as the girl is from a tight-knit family.

Overall, this is an easy watch and offers good immersion practice for beginner and intermediate language-learners.

Words to know:

  • Ayşem (the “m” is an endearment added to the name Ayşe)
  • Amca (uncle)
  • Yenge (aunt; sister of uncle or wife of brother)
  • Kaynana (mother-in-law)
  • Görümce (sister of husband; sister-in-law)

Apart from relative/family words, you’ll hear a lot of love-related words in this show. A list of love words may come in handy.

4. Muhafız (Protector)

A more recent Turkish TV show is Muhafiz, or “Protector.” Seasons one and two are available for streaming on Netflix.

This is an action-packed fantastic thriller involving a secret order and the protector of Istanbul. It reminds one of the Matrix and their search for the “one.” The language is quite plain and easy to follow, making it a good choice for beginners and those at the intermediate level.

Here’s a piece of dialogue from the first episode, where Kemal and his daughter Zeynep introduce themselves to Hakan, the future protector of Istanbul.

Hakan: Kimsiniz? Ne istiyorsunuz?
“Who are you? What do you want?”

Kemal: Baştan başlayalım. Ben Kemal, bu da benim kızım Zeynep.
“Let’s start from the beginning. I’m Kemal, this is my daughter Zeynep.”

Zeynep: Biz sadıklariz.
“We’re the loyal ones.”

Hakan: Sadıklar mi? Kime sadık?
“The Loyal Ones? What are you loyal to?”

Zeynep and Kemal: Sana…
“To you…”

2. Turkish TV Series on YouTube

When it comes to Turkish TV series, YouTube is a great place to find some of the greats. Here’s our list of the best TV series in Turkey that you can find on YouTube!

1. Erkenci Kuş (Daydreamer)

Asuman Çakır, an Actress from Erkenci Kus

Photo by HayatiÇakır, under Creative Commons

If you’re looking to watch Turkish TV shows, romance and rom-coms are quite popular, as you probably noticed. This is a light romantic comedy, and considered one of the best Turkish romantic series for youngsters. The language is fairly simple and easy to follow. You may even hear a few English words commonly used by this generation, such as “ok,” “yes,” and so on. The language shows how young people talk these days in Turkey and what kind of culture they have.

The show is about a young girl who starts working at an advertising agency and soon rises to be a copywriter. The show follows the romantic relationship between the funny/slapstick Sanem and Can (co-owner of the agency).

Words to know:

  • Bir dakika (Bi dakka) (One minute)
  • Günaydın (Good morning)
  • Patron (Boss)
  • Çalışan (Employee)
  • İlişki (Relationship)
  • Aşk (Love)
  • Arkadaş (Friend)

There’s lots of positivity in this upbeat romantic comedy. Take a look at this positive emotion words list for reference.

2. Hercai (Fickle Heart)

Feride Çetin, Actress in Hercai

Photo by Usien, under Creative Commons

This Turkish TV drama takes place in modern-day Eastern Turkey. Although it takes place in modern times, you can see the culture and old stone houses that have been preserved from the past. The characters speak with an eastern accent, but it’s still easy to understand. You’ll witness Eastern Turkish culture and traditional ways while watching.

The story revolves around Miran (a wealthy man) and Reyyan (a poor relative of a wealthy man). There’s deep hatred between the two families, but the youngsters fall in love. There’s never a dull moment. This is a good show to watch if you plan to visit the area (or Turkey in general).

Some words used in the region and the show:

  • Bey (Lord)
  • Gelin (Bride)
  • İntikam (Revenge)
  • Şeref (Pride)
  • Yemin (Promise)
  • Affetmek (To forgive)

There’s a lot of talk about family and family ties in this show. Brush up on your family-related words.

3. Binbir Gece Masalları (A Thousand and One Nights)

This is a modern-day fairytale. Accompanied by beautiful classical music, this show also displays lovely scenery of Istanbul, making it a good show to watch before visiting this ancient yet modern city.

We follow a widowed woman and her son who has leukemia through her trials with life, money, and men. The language isn’t too complex and you can even hear a character speaking Azeri (a Turkic lect). The Turkish you’ll hear will mostly be gentile (Istanbul Turkish), spoken by the elite in Istanbul.

Here’s some basic greetings in Turkish and common phrases:

  • Abla (Older sister)
  • Hanım (Ms. / Lady)
  • Müsadenizle (With your permission / Excuse me)
  • Nasılsınız (How are you?)
  • Teşekkür ederim (Thank you)
  • Rica ederim (Don’t mention it / No problem)

4. İçerde (Insider)

Cagatay Ulusoy is a rising star actor in Turkish TV series, especially Turkish TV dramas and action-based thrillers. Insider is a 2016 production and it’s gained popularity in Turkey and other countries such as Pakistan, India, Romania, and Ethiopia.

This is how the story goes: Sarp and his brother Umut were separated as young boys. Sarp remains with his mother while Umut is kidnapped. Years later, they find out that Umut is alive and Sarp searches for him. Unknowingly, he falls in love with his enemy’s protege and lawyer, who’s also a friend of Umut. We won’t give away the whole story here in case you want to watch it yourself. Here’s an example of Umut speaking:

Ben düşmanlarımı iki gruba ayırırım. Başka koşullar altında karşılaştığımda arkadaş olabileceklerim ve başka koşullar altında gene de düşman olacaklarım. Sarp ikinci gruba giriyor.

“I divide my enemies into two camps. Those who would be my friends under different circumstances and those who would still be my enemies. Sarp is one of the latter.”

5. Medcezir

Medcezir Logo

Medcezir means “the tide” and it tells the story of Yaman (a poor boy with a troubled family background) and Mira (who has a wealthy family). We follow the struggles of Yaman as he overcomes his past and tries to gain the trust and respect of Mira’s high society family. Here’s a sample of the dialogue between the two:

Mira: Düşlerimle aramdaki en büyük engel annemdir, annemin benim hakkımdaki hayalleri.
“The biggest obstacle to my dreams is my mother, my mother’s dreams about me…”

Yaman: Senin hayallerin ne?
“What are your dreams?”

Mira: …. Bize ayrılan sürenin sonuna gelmiş bulunuyoruz.
“…we have reached the end of the time allowed for us.”

“We have reached the end of the time allowed for us,” is a cynical phrase Turkish youth like to use. Watching this, and other Turkish TV shows, will help you get accustomed to such colloquialisms.

6. Fatmagül’ün Suçu ne

This Turkish show was shot partly on the Aegean coast, a refreshing change to the dominance of Istanbul-based TV shows. You may also hear a little Aegean Turkish accent in the first few episodes.

Aegeans typically speak faster than other native Turkish speakers. They tend to swallow a vowel or two, mainly the ones in the middle of a word. So a word like çarpacak (meaning “it will affect you badly,” usually used when talking about alcohol) would be reduced to çarpcak. You may hear Fatmaguul’s brother Rahmi speaking with such an accent.

The story is about Fatmagul, who was raped multiple times and then rejected by her fiance. She moves to Istanbul, with Kerim as a supporter, and struggles to get a grip on life again while fighting the rich family that caused her ruin. The language is fairly easy to follow.

3. Turkish TV Shows According to Geographical Location

Language, like culture, may vary slightly even between the boundaries within a country. There are different accents in almost every geographical region of Turkey. The culture varies slightly too, although modern Turkish culture and language is the norm today.

In case you’ll be visiting a certain region, we’ll give you a list of Turkish TV series you can watch beforehand to get to know the specific accent and culture of each area better.

İstanbul

Istanbul

Turkish TV series are usually set in Istanbul. The Turkish version of Hollywood (which is Yeşilçam) is also in Istanbul. But recently efforts have been made to include other Turkish cities. On the other hand, Istanbul is a metropolitan city that has received massive immigration due to the promise of jobs and a better life. So, you may hear different accents while roaming its streets.

İstanbul Kirmizisi (Istanbul Red)
Binbir Gece Masalları (Tales of a Thousand and One Nights)
Muhteşem Yüzyıl (Magnificent Century)
Dudaktan Kalbe (From the Lips to the Heart)
Erkenci Kuş (Daydreamer)
Öyle bir Geçer Zaman ki (Time Goes By)
İstanbullu Gelin (Bride from Istanbul)
Muhafız (The Protector)
Fatmagül’ün Suçu Ne (Ege Region & Istanbul – What is Fatmagul’s Fault?)

Eastern Turkey

  • Asi (Rebellious)
  • Hercai (Fickle Heart)
  • Bir Zamanlar Çukurova (Cukurova in Old Times)
  • Hanımın Çiftliği (The Lady’s Property)

Black Sea Region

Map of the Black Sea

  • Beni Böyle Sev (Love Me as I Am)
  • Kurt Seyit ile Şura (Wolf Seyit & Shura)
  • Sen Anlat Karadeniz (Tell Your Story, Oh Black Sea)
  • İnadına Aşk (Stubborn Love)

Aegean Region

Aegean Sea

  • Fatmagül’ün Suçu Ne? (What Did Fatmagül Do Wrong?)
  • Kalbim Ege’de Kaldı (I Left My Heart in the Aegean)

Central Anatolia Region

Hot Air Balloons

Photo by Wolfgang Moroder, under Creative Commons

  • Asmalı Konak (Mansion of Vines)
  • Çoban Yıldızı (Northern Star)
  • Aşk ve Mavi (Love and Blue)

5. Conclusion: How TurkishClass101 Can Help You Learn More Turkish

TurkishClass101.com girl listening to podcast

We hope you found our Turkish series list helpful, and that you found your next binge-worthy show!

Listening to the target language spoken by native speakers is the quickest and easiest way to excel your language-learning experience. So, if you want to be able to speak and understand Turkish in no time, be sure to tune in to these great Turkish TV shows!

To make your experience a more fruitful one, don’t forget to brush up on your vocabulary and grammar skills at TurkishClass101.com! Then, sit back and enjoy the show…Iyi seyirler! (Happy watching!)

Before you go, let us know in the comments which Turkish TV shows caught your eye! Do you know of any good ones we missed? We look forward to hearing from you!

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