Turkish Tv Series In Bulgaria And Russia: The Terribly Charming Turk In The Global Media Matrix

Yasemin Yusufoff Celikkol, University of Pennsylvania


In the last decade, Turkish television series transformed from a mostly local product to a global phenomenon with perplexing popularity even in countries adversarial to Turkey. Through the study of public discourse and media texts about Turkish series in Russia and Bulgaria, this study answers: What transpires when transnational media from the Other traverses and settles in the Self’s media sphere? Findings indicate that viewers, the majority of whom are women, value Turkish series for their high production quality and for presenting an alternate modernity that values family and is devoid of rampant individualism and liberalism, revealing underlying issues related to the everyday lives of viewers. Alongside their popularity, Turkish TV series are also perceived as a threat to national sovereignty in Bulgaria, and actively countered in Russian media through orientalist media texts, positioning Turkey exclusively as East and Russia as West. This global media study that triangulates Russia, Bulgaria, and Turkey, highlights the complexity of culture, the mutually constitutive relationship of popular culture and geopolitics, the role of women in global media and geopolitics, and the interconnectedness of global media, which I term the global media matrix.