If you are in the mood for a bit of escapism but still have a need for depth and meaning in the content you consume, then look no further than the Aegean coastal set Ada Masali.
- Genre: romance, comedy, drama
- Length: 19 episodes and counting
- Lead actors: Ayca Aysin Turan & Alp Navruz
- Rating: 9/10
Every once in a while you discover a show that surprises you in the best way. Ada Masali takes viewers on a trip to Kirlangic Island, a real island also called Alonnisos in Greek, where the fictional story takes place. Shot in Sigacik in the Izmir region of Turkey this dizi boasts some of the most spectacular cinematography from director Ali Bilgin (Medcezir, Delibal). But with its focus on protecting nature, simple ways of life, and the love of community, Ada Masali isn’t just a feast for the eyes.
The story begins in the bustling streets of Istanbul where city girl Haziran (Ayca Aysin Turan) lives her fast paced and success driven life. Meanwhile on the island we meet Poyraz (Alp Navruz), a hard working, community focused man who enjoys the simple things in life. When Haziran goes to the island (which is also her ancestral home) on business she encounters her long lost relatives and a whole host of colorful characters, including the handsome but taciturn Poyraz.
As with many in the romcom genre, this dizi romance starts with a lie but the similarities with other dizis end there. With a picturesque backdrop, the viewer is taken on an enchanting trip through the duo’s triumphs and tribulations in a refreshingly unstereotypical way.
In order to atone for her lie and subsequent damage to Poyraz, Haziran decides to sacrifice the city life for a few months in order to refurbish and reopen a hotel that was owned in part by her family and in part by Poyraz’. She hopes to not only recoup the money Poyraz needs to pay back the loan for his olive oil factory, but also to help her fashion designer mother out of debt. As co-owners, the diametrically opposite pair have to learn how to work together and, in doing so, learn to value the other’s talents and strengths.
While adjusting to the quirks of village culture, Haziran begins to appreciate things that she once took for granted and enjoy things she once vowed she detested. Her warming to the island life is mirrored in the way she warms to Poyraz, who at first glance is a cold and detached man, but upon further examination is discovered to be very selfless and sensitive. Poyraz, on the other hand, is in his element being in charge of the grunt work of fixing and maintaining the hotel. His methods get challenged by Haziran and her Istanbulite pals who have come to help bring Sandal Agaci Otel to life. Poyraz is also flanked by his lifelong friends who, like him, rely on the fickle tourism industry but, despite skirmishes, the two groups eventually mesh into one, creating a sometimes amusing and sometimes messy, pseudo family.
The people of the island who have known him his whole life, begin to notice a change in Poyraz. They have always stood by him and have understood his good heart even with his sometimes gruff personality. Since Haziran’s arrival, he seems to cross his own boundaries more often or tolerates things he never would have before. Some admire and encourage this change and the growing feelings between him and Haziran, while others do their best to squash the buds of their true love at every turn. But, in true romantic fashion, these adversities seem to have an opposite effect than intended and only manage to strengthen the bond between the pair.
Through the challenges of business ownership and island issues, Poyraz and Haziran show an incredible amount of respect for each other in spite of their differences. When deep seated insecurities and traumas come to the surface, they rely on and look to each other for support. Their understanding of the other’s idiosyncrasies and character flaws grows as they navigate the constantly changing tides of life and relationships. A unique and profound love is born between them in this short and tumultuous time. But, new and worsening obstacles will test the strength of their bond and push them to their personal limits. Will they make it through to the other side hand in hand? Or will they break under the pressure?
The visual beauty of this dizi gives way to an even more beautiful heart that is central to the show’s lovability. The way it shows how nature and it’s creatures should be protected and venerated really makes one take stock of their own environment and think of what they might do to enjoy what they already have in front of them. There are other lessons too about the duality contained within every individual, the capacity for forgiveness, and healing power of unconditional love. All of these themes are brought to life in a sensational way by the talented ensemble cast.
At the helm of this cast are Alp and Ayca, who are known for their success in drama, but make the step into romantic comedy seem easy and natural. Their compatibility is as immediately apparent as their suitability to their roles. One can see how their strengths in drama play into the success of their comedic scenes, as there can be no light without darkness and vice versa. This theme of light and darkness is dabbled with in some way throughout all of the episodes, whether it be in its content or in its characters themselves.
Something so often lacking in media is the subtle demonstration of flaws along with positive attributes. No one real person is wholly good or bad. Sometimes our flaws make us lovable to someone, and sometimes our good deeds repel others. Ada Masali excels at navigating these nuances in a naturally uncomplicated way. The best example of this is in the characterizations of the leads, Poyraz and Haziran. Both are strong minded, successful in their own fields, and for the most part fulfilled within themselves. They don’t need anyone else to be whole. But the beauty of them lies in their harmony. Poyraz and Haziran complement each other in almost every way. Throughout their journey, the viewer learns from them what it means to not necessarily need a person, but to want them for exactly who they are.
This show excels at realism in theater. The acting choices, the reactions of the characters, and the direction of the plot are oftentimes surprising. The relationships between men and women, platonic or romantic, are unstereotypical and refreshing. Even the pace with which events take place feels organic while still maintaining a heightened level of excitement. There are no episodes that feel like “filler” and even things that might’ve frustrated the viewer in one episode will come to play in another, making for a well rounded understanding of the story and the people within it.
Outwardly simple, but with complex emotions that are very relatable and acting performances that make you empathize with nearly every character, Ada Masali is not to be passed by. And with a gorgeous original score by Cem Oget (Erkenci Kus, Bay Yanlis), transportive visuals, refreshing characters, and an ever evolving plot, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
If you are contemplating whether to watch the series, here is the first teaser released by Star TV. It airs on the channel on Wednesdays (used to be Tuesdays) at 8 pm Turkish time.
Article copyright (c) North America TEN & MR/ @startoftime1, twitter
A dizi fan since 2018, the US-based MR enjoys in depth character analysis and has an appreciation for the details and aesthetics in the television shows she watches.
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