Ethos/ Bir Başkadır

by Chris Bertram on December 16, 2020

I’ve just finished watching Netflix’s new Turkish miniseries Ethos, set in Istanbul and directed by Berkun Oya. This has been very little reviewed in the Western press, as far as I can see. The Guardian’s what-to-watch for December doesn’t even mention it. And yet, I think it is one of the most compelling dramas I have seen for a while. The eight episodes link characters from diverse backgrounds linked through Meryem, a hijab-wearing house cleaner who is seeing a psychiatrist, Peri, because of recurring fainting episodes. She lives with her brother, the permanently angry Yasin, a nightclub bouncer and his depressive wife Ruhiye. Meryem cleans the flat of Sinan, a philandering playboy. We get to see a spectrum of Turkish life from devout village people to sophisticated urbanites and a world where women actually dominate the action (the men are passive, confused, at the mercy of events). The soundtrack is wonderful and the acting superb, as is the lingering cinematography. I’ve avoided posting spoilers, which disables me from saying too much about what happens, but it might help to know that Gülbin’s family is Kurdish, and to be primed to think about what is happening when the Hodja’s daughter, Hayrünnisa, leaves the house in the final episode. Some of the interest is Turkey-specific but there’s much that’s more universal, such as the clash between the educated urban set and the more religious “rednecks” from out of town. Give it a try!