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Sen Çal Kapimi: The Soul of a Love Story

Time will say nothing but I told you so,

Time only knows the price we have to pay;

If I could tell you I would let you know.


If we should weep when clowns put on their show,

If we should stumble when musicians play,

Time will say nothing but I told you so.


There are no fortunes to be told, although,

Because I love you more than I can say,

If I could tell you I would let you know.


The winds must come from somewhere when they blow,

There must be reasons why the leaves decay;

Time will say nothing but I told you so.


Perhaps the roses really want to grow,

The vision seriously intends to stay;

If I could tell you I would let you know.


Suppose the lions all get up and go,

And all the brooks and soldiers run away;

Will Time say nothing but I told you so?

If I could tell you I would let you know.W.H. Auden


The Soul of a Love Story

This week’s Sen Çal Kapimi episode was better than the previous couple but still not much movement in the plot and so because I still wanted to write about the series I thought I would instead write out my thoughts about why I think this particular story has resonated with both the Turkish and international audiences. Why did this summer romantic comedy continue while the others were canceled in the fall?

I have not attempted to disguise my admiration for Ayşe Üner Kutlu’s writing. I loved the Erkenci Kuş episodes written by her and when I found out she was writing another summer show I was onboard to watch, no other information necessary. So, I acknowledge my bias. The story of Sen Çal Kapimi is not ground-breaking in its premise, rich man meets feisty non-rich girl, they hate each other at first and then fall in love. This is pretty standard stuff. What makes it unique is Ayşe’s ability to weave magic into regular life. She brought the language of flowers, mythology, astronomy, and the hand of fate to two ‘normal’ people. Also, her main characters were interesting and engaging. Kerem Bürsin has stated that he wasn’t necessarily interested in doing a romantic comedy but he liked that the female character was already strong. So often in romcoms, the female lead is a ‘disaster’ and the man has to come and teach her about the world and show her how to do things. Eda is competent and capable and doesn’t need Serkan to ‘save’ her. This appealed to Kerem and it has appealed to the audience as well.

The other mythical, magical thing that happened in SÇK was the casting. The entire main cast is fantastic but to sell a romcom it has to be the leads that make or break the show. Hande Erçel and Kerem Bürsin are marvelous together, both on and off-screen and their delight in getting to play their characters and play with each other has made a great story even better. They are also ridiculously talented and have both brought so much to all their different kinds of scenes, they can do sad, angry, happy, and funny. The supporting cast’s chemistry is a bonus, and while lately, they have been getting a little too much screen time initially they were fantastic at bolstering the leads. What the newer writers have forgotten is that SCK isn’t an ensemble piece. It’s Eda and Serkan’s story, and when the focus is pulled off them, some times for the majority of an episode, it is unwelcome as we are not invested in the side characters story much beyond what they bring to the main story. For as much as we personally like the other actors, we want the majority of screen time to be Eda and Serkan. 

What was it that made SÇK work? Why this dizi rather than another one catch people's attention and keep them watching long beyond what a summer show is supposed to run for? There are a few scenes I want to revisit to explain what I think was the magic of the show. There are many moments in the telling of the love story, when the attraction is recognized, when there is a meeting of the minds, when a character feels comfortable enough to be vulnerable with someone, when they want to spend more time with the other person than anyone else, and when ultimately the characters realize that they have fallen in love. Ayşe excels at the ‘show, don’t tell’ school of storytelling, we can easily pick all these moments out of the early episodes of the show. She and her team excel at using all the tools of storytelling to give the audience the knowledge of what the characters are thinking and feeling. When this stellar storytelling is coupled with excellent performances, attractive people, and good production values, Sen Çal Kapimi was bound to be a hit series.


Episode 4

Characters tell us of their love through their thoughts, words, and actions. Episode 4 is a beautiful illustration of all these encapsulated in one episode.

This is still my favourite episode of the whole series because the writing is so good and we have Eda and Serkan cycling through all the different aspects of their new burgeoning relationship. They have moved beyond the ‘I hate you’ phase and into the first inklings of real feelings. The power that Ayşe wields that she can get the audience so many ‘love markers’ all in one episode but it doesn’t feel forced and we don’t necessarily pay attention to it but if we break the episode down there are so many symbolic and realistic cues to the growing love and attraction between our lovers in an episode where they barely touch, let alone kiss. Let’s walk through it. 

Serkan is worried about Eda’s health. It’s well known that Serkan does not like to have sick people around him and this goes for Eda too. He insists on seeing her medical tests and brings the Bolat family doctor to check her out. Upon learning that she is fine, that she just needs to reduce her stress, he insists that she will swim for exercise. They argue about this but she agrees when he says that there’s a pool on the estate and she can learn to swim there. She assumes that he will be teaching her and is happy with this idea. She counteroffers that he needs to reduce his stress too and that evening she calls and guides him through a relaxation breaking that includes making lemon water and smelling the lemon. We have the first of many concrete indication that they care about one another, no matter how much they snark at each other.


The next morning Eda comes for her swimming lesson only to find that Serkan has hired a coach for her. She is determined to make him regret that and, in her very glamorous new bathing costume goes out of her way to make him jealous and she is immediately successful. She wanted to be in the pool with him and if he chooses to thwart her, she is going to make him pay. This results in possibly the funniest bit they have ever done on SÇK. 


After swimming as they are heading to the office Serkan quizzes her on what physical attributes she likes in a man and she tells him, smile, voice, and hands. He makes a great show of showing off his hands on top of the car and she eventually has to tell him ‘don’t worry, you have beautiful hands’. He wants to know what she likes in a man.

At the office, she offers to help with the landscape drawings that must be finished that day. She is not performing up to his standards but keeps at it until she gets it right. He compliments her and tells her that she is talented. This causes her to spontaneously hug him. She appreciates that he tells her both when her work is good and when it isn't. They head to a market where she walks him through the joys of picking out the best, freshest food that they will have at dinner that night. When they return to the house Serkan abandons work to cook with her and they have a contest about who’s food is going to be the tastiest. This leads to a very sensual scene where he feeds her and wipes sauce off of her lips. 

She has to pretend to be living with him so has brought some of her things over and she gifts him her favourite mug that changes colour with your mood. He scoffs of course but when he uses it, it turns red, the colour that it displays when you are in love. We also see a look of stunned attraction when she comes out of the house wearing the white dress.

She is beyond annoyed with him when he decides to leave for a business trip right before their dinner with Selin and Ferit. To distract him and prevent him from leaving she ‘falls’ in the pool. He, thinking that she can’t swim, dives in after her to ‘save’ her. She smiling tells him that she can absolutely swim and she wouldn’t have jumped in the pool otherwise. He’s annoyed but not angry and Selin arrives and says that she has never even been in the pool there. 


Except for the timing of the episode, where about three days' worth of action happens all in one day, this is pretty much a perfect episode.


The best ode to the episode has to be how much of it we are still talking about all these features from this episode seven months later. The new sets of writers have attempted to use these previous scenes to relay concepts and emotions in the current episodes, the lemon water, the colour changing mug. The fact that amnesia Serkan calls them saçma (ridiculous) or unimportant is beyond annoying and it is untenable why the writers have chosen to denigrate so many of the touchstone elements from Ayşe’s original story.

Where we are currently in the writing of the show is frustrating to so many of us because, not only are we not getting any scenes where the characters (Serkan mostly) give us their mindset by having them have conversations with other people, the non-verbal cues are not present in the way that we need them either. So we, as the audience have to guess what the characters are thinking and feeling, which is fine for the short term but not for episode after episode.

This is why, and I don’t pretend to speak for everyone, I am unhappy with the current writing of Sen Çal Kapimi. I understand the reasons behind the need to extend the plot, the monetary factors, and also keeping a cast and crew employed are important. However, the story has suffered and we as the audience have suffered along with it. Turkish television is insane in the way it produces shows and one can’t help but wonder if things wouldn’t be better if there were set numbers of episodes expected from shows and they didn’t have to experience the stress of cancellation every week. Sen Çal Kapimi has lived on much longer than anyone might have predicted, which is great for the cast and the crew, great for the audience that doesn’t want it to end, but terrible for a story that should have ended weeks ago. 


Looking up at the stars, I know quite well

That, for all they care, I can go to hell,

But on earth indifference is the least

We have to dread from man or beast.


How should we like it were stars to burn

With a passion for us we could not return?

If equal affection cannot be,

Let the more loving one be me.


Admirer as I think I am

Of stars that do not give a damn,

I cannot, now I see them, say

I missed one terribly all day.


Were all stars to disappear or die,

I should learn to look at an empty sky

And feel its total dark sublime,

Though this might take me a little time. W.H. Auden


Last Updated: Mar 12, 2021 23:07 pm (UTC) Filed Under:
Krisha (@krisha_writes) is a « guest » contributor.