Ethos/Bir Baskadir

I want to know the people who love this show. Because they’re right on my wavelength.

I like shows about people, their situations. And I’m not bothered by whether they’re likable or not, people in real life aren’t always likable, why do we need someone to identify with on the screen?

Not that that’s a big issue here. But it seems that people want a show that reflects their lives, and only their lives, but the truth is by watching “Ethos” they’ll feel more connected than with any of the American tripe on TV.

That’s right, “Ethos” is not American. It’s Turkish!

And yes, there are real people with real problems living in Turkey. All we hear about is Erdogan, who’s a strongman, causing unrest to the point where the U.S. recommends you not visit the country, then again, if you’re a foreigner, are you safe in the U.S?

It’s just utterly astounding to watch these shows set in faraway countries and find that really, the people are not so different from us. You should see the house Peri’s parents live in! It’s on the water, it’s like Venice, only it’s a wide river, not a dirty canal. And Peri laments the sale of the family vacation home. And there are pictures of her skiing. And she’s got the dream job of every parent, at least Jewish, SHE’S A DOCTOR! A psychiatrist. And she’s beautiful but a tight-ass and her life doesn’t really work.

Everybody’s got problems.

But there’s backlash. Unless you’re starving on the street in a third world nation you’re not entitled to talk about your woes. Why? Didn’t Depeche Mode sing that “people are people”? We share our humanity. And yes, some people think all day long about survival, and that’s sad, and should be addressed, but not at the cost of the discussion of our issues.

So Meryem keeps fainting so she ends up seeing Peri. Meryem is hobbled by religion and the weighty finger of her brother. You know how it is, then again, hopefully you don’t. There’s someone in the household who’s more powerful than you and if you’re yourself not only do they tell you to shut up, but that you are wrong. And you start to wonder, “maybe I am?” You lose track of what is right. Maybe you go away to college and gain another perspective, but too many people are beholden to their parents’ mores, their attitudes, it’s sad.

And Meryem’s sister-in-law is depressed. Anybody would see she needs treatment. But what if you’ve got no money, if you believe religion can solve all your problems, if you just pray to God…

That’s a running theme… Between the believers and the deniers.

And then there’s Sinan. Who lives larger than most of us and believes he’s God’s gift to women. That with cunning he can get whatever he wants. We all know this is not true.

And Peri sees Gulbin for supervision. And she talks and we’re privy to Gulbin’s perspective on her. Don’t you always wonder what your shrink thinks about you? You’ve got to be quite narcissistic to think you’re not sometimes boring them, or that they’re sick of hearing the same damn stories over and over and over again.

And Melisa is an actress, she’s recognized wherever she goes. But she’s pissed she’s in a soap opera, that she’s not doing real work.

So, on one hand we’ve got the story of Meryem, Yasin and his wife Ruhiye. They all live under one roof. And Yasin is a tyrant. You can’t get away with this behavior in the U.S. Then again, he’s bringing home the bacon, doing a job he doesn’t want to do.

And then there’s the Hodja, and his wife and daughter. The daughter wants to be modern, but the Hodja supposedly descends from God. Western music, dancing, really?

And Peri’s parents treat her like a child, but in some ways Peri is a child. Keeping herself in tip-top shape so she can meet a guy…but no guy would be interested in her, once they got to know her. You know people like this, who’ve jumped through all the hoops but when you pry below the surface, there’s trouble, you either retreat or it’s like riding a bucking bronco, trying to get the other to open up, to trust you.

And Gulbin… Like Peri, she too appears to have everything. But what is everything these days? Is it a good job with a concomitant lifestyle, or is it really all about family?

We make our choices, but none of us really know. You wake up one day and you realize this is the path you are on, sure you could change it, but you’d be starting from scratch when you’ve got an investment in this one.

And psychiatric help is a taboo in so many worlds. Even the U.S. Tell someone you’re seeing a shrink and the first question they’ll have is WHY? Never mind telling your parents, or the cause of your pain. You’re supposed to buck up, be optimistic and fly straight. But what if you can’t?

And what if you want to investigate life on this planet. What if you want to address the issues?

The funny thing is the U.S. is getting more like a third world country every day. Everything is black or white. You’re right or your wrong. You fight to the finish to defend your opinion, winning is more important than truth.

But the truth is we’re all confused, we’ve all got tons to learn, and we can only get this by talking to each other.

Most men don’t. Talk to each other that is.

That’s what I like most. Call me up with your problems, I’d much rather hear about them than your business. I’m not talking about your car breaking down and overwork, I mean what you feel! Guys are afraid of revealing their feelings. Which is why conversation is so much better with women, they’ll open up, every conversation is not a competition.

So “Ethos,” or “Bir Baskadir” in Turkish, is a slice of life drama. With people all over the economic stratum. They’re all equal, but they’re not. But they’ve all got wants, they’ve all had losses. Many question their choices, their lifestyles…

They call this life. “Ethos” is about life. There are no superheroes, there are few laughs, it’s about what life is like on this planet, all over the world. We’re all struggling, not all the time, but too much of the time. Unless we bury ourselves in work or religion so we don’t have to think, having been provided all the answers.

“Ethos” is on Netflix. You can search for it under that name. Be sure to watch in Turkish, with subtitles. It’s not hard to achieve. You ultimately feel like the characters are talking in English, not that I’m exactly sure how that happens.

I’m looking for series that draw me to the TV set, that I think about all day, that I can’t wait to watch. But too often series disappointment me. I’m interested in something shooting for the moon, that is not made for an audience, but is the true vision of the producer/director/writer. No compromise for the studio, no playing to the audience. It’s when you’re true to yourself that your work resonates.

And we’d tried another Turkish show and it had disappointed.

But I’d read a review of “Ethos” in the “Wall Street Journal.” I researched the ratings. All signs were thumbs-up. So I put it on the list.

And after the show we planned to watch was behind another paywall, we fired it up.

Turns out Turkey is a hotbed of dramas. That like Israel, the country is known for these programs, which play throughout the world. And the truth is they don’t make shows like this in the U.S., not this true to life. Even “thirtysomething,” which I adored, was not this gritty, not this down to earth, there was a patina of flash that real life doesn’t possess. But you could see yourself in “Ethos.” As a matter of fact, you will.

This is not “Call My Agent.” This is not lightweight farce. Not that it’s unbearably heavy, it’s just higher brow than most shows, it’s not pandering. You know if this is your kind of show. If so, put it at the top of your list. Well, after you’ve watched “Borgen,” “The Bureau,” and “Spiral” and…

“Ethos” is a show for those who hunt. Who believe streaming television is superior to film, because the length allows the story to be deeper, more fleshed-out. “Ethos” is a show for those who’ve already got the hits under their belts. “Ethos” is a show you’ll think about. And I don’t know you, but my mind is working all the time, nonstop. I cannot turn it off, I don’t want to turn it off! But so much of the time my thoughts and feelings are internalized, I feel alone. I’m looking to feel connected, to be known, to bond. Too often I feel like I’m the only person on the planet who feels this way. But when I watch a show like “Ethos,” I know I am not.

Maybe you’re like me. You’re going through the motions of life, but you’re looking for that edge, that extra zest. And I’m not talking about alcohol or drugs, the best highs are always natural. I’m talking about that feeling of being alive, on the planet, fully-realized, almost powerful. It’s thrilling. You focus, the rest of the world recedes. You have a peak experience that you hope never ends.

But it always does.

It’s unclear if there’ll be another season of “Ethos.”

Then again, one is not necessary, we’re not left wondering who shot J.R.

But it’s what I want. I want to invest, I want to binge. That’s why I hate HBO and Apple TV+ and the rest of the weekly dribblers. Give it to me all at once, let me marinate, this is not entertainment, to me it’s REAL LIFE!

Yes, “Ethos” is real life.

And if you’re real, you should watch it, you’ll dig it.

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