A year ago, I never thought I’d ever be interested in some Turkish soap opera. Today, I seem to be completely hooked.
I watch many remarkable series: Revenge, Scandal, and The Americans to name a few, but Hareem Al Sultan provides me with something different – a fascinating and historic piece of television. The show narrates the fictional life of “Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent” – his wars (east & west), his wives, his harem, children, aides, & especially his “moufadalla” Huram. Everything seems to fall into place and it’s so enjoyable to watch.
One tends to think that the Ottoman Empire was ruled exclusively by its heroic men and by its warriors. And yes there are endless episodes of dramatizing intrigues orchestrated by the Sultans and their captured Christian slaves. But the women are the real story. It seems they did nothing else but tear each other up, set up murderous traps, stab each other and crush necks!
And they did all of the above dressed in stunning dresses of multiple shades & fabric, breathtaking jewelry, and rivers of diamonds… while walking along private gardens and the corridors of Topkapi. Actually the minute you enter a hammam (a frequent setting), you just know one of them is going to slip and break her neck. In two words, you know she’s trapped!
Of course, you get heroic scenes of wars, strategies, conquests, and stories of morality… but who cares when all you want to see is how the film director chooses to unfold history or so-called history within the private lives of a select few who are always intriguing.
There was always a small part of my brain that was curious of what was happening behind the scenes of an empire – always trying to imagine how those people lived in the shadow of their leader’s reputation. Well, I have been served. Hareem El Sultan has captivating characters, wonderful music and exceptional set design to bring this world to life.
Truly I’m in love with this show. Maybe some Roman or Greek empire series can land on our screens next. Or maybe our Phoenician ancestors perhaps?