Muhtesem Yuzyil Magnificient Century takes Turkey by storm

Show TV’s new soap opera, Muhtesem Yuzyil “Magnificient Century”, takes the lead in news.

The public protested the new soap opera of Turkey’s biggest TV station, Show TV. They wanted the new soap to be stopped.

The protestors read passages from the Quran, blocked highways, egged the building of Show TV station, threatened to boycott the corporation which owned that TV station, tore down public ads and sang the tunes of the Ottoman military band.

All because a TV station started broadcasting a soap they claim would portray the Ottoman dynasty as both “indecent” and “hedonistic.”

The protestors were Islamist Turks (not to be confused with Muslim Turks) – who might brand themselves as “conservative” Turks; they were furious the new soap was featuring the reign of Süleyman I, also known as Süleyman the Magnificent (hence the title of the soap, “The Magnificent Century”) as a period full of alcohol, women of the harem and other “hedonistic” flavors. The “conservative” Turks assumed that the cups the dynasty members drank from as seen on the trailer contained alcohol.

The general line of reaction against “Süleyman the hedonist” has quickly become a matter involving governance. Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç obviously threatened the broadcaster when he said that, “Those who try to humiliate the important people of our history…should face retribution. What is necessary will be done.” Then the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP’s, deputy parliamentary group chairman, Suat Kılıç, said, “600 years of Ottoman history was not built on the harem.”

The AKP members and their conservative supporters should be able to understand the difference between documentary and fiction. The alarming fact is that “conservative” Turks do not have tolerance even for fiction when their “ancestors” are at stake – let alone religious figures.

Only the first episode was on air and already all religious figures started to discuss why world conqueror Suleyman 1 ( known as Muhtesem Suleyman, or Kanuni Sultan Suleyman ) who stayed as a sultan for 46 years has only been shown in Harem at Topkapi Palace with so many women and alcohol. They were angry saying why none of the war scenes were shown. Why the sultan who conquered half of Europe and Africa has only been discussed with his sexual life? If they feel too annoyed at what the harem featured in Ottoman times, they can always change the channel. They can argue that sultans did not kill their own sons and brothers for power, or that they never had Christian mothers. They can even claim that history books are wrong when they say the Ottoman Empire had actually collapsed.

People should understand this is not a historical documentary and only a soap opera who is inspired by the Ottomon Empire’s and Suleyman’s history.

I am already curious to see the reactions of the public after watching the next episode which will be on air on January 12th, on Wednesday.

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Author: istanbul

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  • Kartal

    Totally agree, very well written.

  • Ottoman

    A little correction… Muhtesem Yuzyil is not a soap opera…

  • Yes it’s not your usual soap opera but its still a romantic serie.

    Wikipedia writes that The Magnificent Century) is a Turkish historical drama television series based on the life of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. but with all the people and even the Ottoman family members protesting the new TV serie, it’s has become one big soap opera :-)

  • Istanbul

    Last night’s episode was great.It was a very good reply to RTUK.I can’t understand why people are only focused on the Harem side…They were also busy with Italian embassy visits, getting ready for war, etc etc…

    Like in many movies , only part mny Turkish people are focused is the sex part.What a shame. It is such a big production with lots of people’s efforts.

  • Mushroom

    Very informative article and I am now totally hooked. Best piece of advertsing the series could have had.

  • T D-Y

    You’ve to watch Karsit Gorus of Balcicek Ilter at Haber Turk. Dated: 12 january
    You’ll understand why people are against it.

  • Istanbul

    TD-Y Ican understand why some people are against but they shouldn’t only focus on Harem side.Maybe the serie started showing a scene from that which was a part of Ottoman Empire but I am sure many more episodes will come with Ottoman victories and war scenes, etc..They didn’t give a chance to the serie from the beginning. Can you write the link of that program?

  • Hlucky

    I think that any soap opera that can get the public’s attention in this manner and get people stirring, deserves attention.

  • popescu viorel-romania

    Sunt un mare fan al serialelor turcesti si nu de putine ori m am regasit in ele ca mentalitate si mod de viata. Mai mult am gasit si multe similitudini intre religia musulmana si cea ortodoxa. Ce sa mai spun de istoria Romaniei care este atat de legata de cea a turciei.Si simpatia mea si a familiei mele de tot ce inseamna Turcia si poporul acestei tari este cu atat mai mare.Am asemuit serialul cu Scrisorile persane si mi se pare ca este cu atat mai valoros.Actorii, scenariu, regia te poarta in lumea de acum 500 de ani, te fascineaza,te leaga de eroi, te face sa triesti alaturi de ei intrigile ce par veridice.Multumiri realizatorilor.Il asteptam pe KANAL D din Romania.

  • Istanbul

    popescu; i wish you wrote the comment in english. Ufortunately I didn’t understand anything except for Kanal D:)

  • BiH

    As Bosnian I´ve aslo studied a bit about Turkish history and the Ottoman Empire. Of course the focuse is on he empire´s importance for European history, but we´ve also all heard of harems and the devshirme program and details specific for the empire. As everything else the empire had it´s good sides and bad but we all know it for it´s greatness as one of the largest empires in human history. Honestly my impresion didn´t change after watching the few aired episodes I still see Sultan Suleyman as Suleyman the Magnificent (maybe even more now) and I think Turkey and Turks should be proud of a woman so great as Sultan Hurrem was (we know her as Roxlana), who in my humble opinion is one of the greatest female characters through history!!!

  • Hi to all!
    I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but I would think that the Turkish people would be glad that we’re discussing this series as well as their History (mine as well, I’m of Serbian origin and Serbia was under the Turkish rule for a long, long time, the fact that does not bother me nor does it stop me for watching this show).

    This drama reminds me of The Tudors that I enjoyed watching as well. Yes, the History may not have happened JUST as it’s depicted in these shows, but if you want the exact recounting, go read a History book!
    BTW: I’m watching this over the internet and with NO SUB’s, but then I don’t mind that either. The acting in itself tells me the story!

    I say GO FORTH! Enjoy! It is a story worth telling and hearing!

    …just my humble thoughts….

    • Michaela Hawkins

      Melanie, indeed, “The acting in itself tells me the story!”, You are so right, I feel the same way. I would add to that, all the music composed and used in these series tells also the story. Ah! That Music, That Music is expressing, in extraordinary songs and melodies, so well the history and destiny of these two giant figures in Turkish history, is expressing their fate, the decree of the heavens that had to be fulfilled on this earth in those glorious times.

  • @Istanbul: here is what he said in English thanks to Googlr Translate :)

    “I’m a big fan of the series and many times I have found in them the mentality and way of life similar to ours Furthermore we found many similarities between Muslims and the Orthodox religion. What to say about Romania’s history is so linked to that of Turkish one. I am watching series with Persian letters and it seems that is more valoros. Actors,, screenplay, direction takes you into the world 500 years ago, fascinates you, you feel for the heroes” I took the liberty of helping the translation a bit just to make more sense to you!
    Don’t you LOVE the Internet?
    BTW: Stop by my blog and say hi, Istanbul :)

    @BiH: I could have not said it better. Agree w/u 100%
    You’re very eloquent in your assesment of the History as well as of your thoughts of the History that touches us all. BTW: I will always think of your country as well as mine as ONE. I LOVE Sarajevo and it’s people :) You guys ROCK!!! I’ll never be able to separate the two (Serbia & Bosna)….take care and I send you my best wishes…


  • MaysounH Rabbat


  • Rimakadi1947

    I loved the series, especially because I have visited Top Kapi several times but unluckily the haramlek was never opened to tourists.  I just want to add here that people should know that they are watching a drama.If they want history and nothing but history let them read history book.  there are plenty of them.

  • Lenabish

    its very intersting soap opera. the Turkish people should be proud of this film and they history. 

  • Pingback: Desmontando mitos populares sobre la cultura y lengua árabes (breves apuntes) |()

  • Somaya Haroun

    It`s amazing series , all actors & actresses was perfect in charactars specially Meryem Uzerli .

  • This show, now in its second season on OSN TV in Dubai, is most important hour of the day in our house.

  • katerina

    Here in Greece we watch Sultan Suleiman vigorously. We the people away from the politics we enjoy our neighbors and the life back in mid 1500″s .Eventhough Sultan Suleiman was a global conquer and not only against Greeks by that time.
    It is not controversial since it is between the top 5 best rates today in Greece. We the Greeks we are bored and tired of the political situation and we are asking for a better future for both countries. Of cource superpowers they want us like this because it is easier to sell their weapons. Hope that this serial will be the bigging of a better future for both of us.

  • wangyan

    it is a real great series.i love it ! from china

  • Murakil Rabat

    Good city !!! HAHAHAHA :P

  • Maryam

    Well the producers are highly political and creative IN A VERY NEGATIVE WAY. And do not think for a second that this is a depiction of actual history. Towards the end they depicted the Iranian king as an “Abdullah” WHO DOES NOT EXIST in Iranian history. In reality Shah Tahmasp, a fair skinned king. They showed him to be this grimey greedy and despicable individual dark skinned individual. I for one WILL STOP WATCHING THE TURKISH SERIES! They did the same thing to all other kings. Why would Iranians continue to buy apartments in Turkey,invest so heavily in their turism, watch the Turkish series day in and day out. When indeed the concept of respect, appreciation, and brotherhood is completely lost in the group who owns the Turkish Media. Incidentally the same owners who own Hollywood! Shameful!

  • pl

    Bali bey!!!! I loved,…. Ibrahim pasza and Bali bey!!!!!! The best you are both.with love…pl

  • Judilee Moore

    Discovered on Netflix, I love this story. It may be exaggerated and not historically accurate, but the essence of it is so entertaining and it does show life in the Suleiman palace: Protocol, Harems, jealousies, intrigues, family love and loyalty even if it used creative license to make the story. But in realty, Suleiman the Magnificent was a great historical figure, which many of us in the West never knew, who now deserves international recognition, like Alexander, Napolean, Julius Caesar. Looking up the historical facts, it was a true love-match between Suleiman and Hurrem/Roxelana, like Victoria & Albert, HenryII & Eleanor, Nicholas & Alexandra, etc. This series is a wonderful drama, great actors, exceptional writing, about an exciting time in history, even if it resembles a “soap opera”. So
    did Downton Abbey!

  • Astriaicow

    I would rather the show limits the amount of feminine toxicity scenes and focus more on Suleyman’s (and Ibrahim’s) accomplishments. I’ve been watching the show and eventually skipped all the scenes with the women, except for the love story of Ibrahim and Hatice. And honestly, you are not missing much if you do that. Hurrem and Mahideveran scenes are just each of them whining whining whining and more whining. The character of Ibrahim is actually the most interesting, complex, as well as heartbreaking–my favorite. Here is a man that possesses all the quality traits of humanity: humility, loyalty, honor, intellect, and honesty. And yet, powerful men and women alike use those qualities to turn such a man into a monster through constant psychological abuse, and eventually murdered him after they have no more use of him, like a cat playing with a mouse until the cat is no longer interested and finally kills the mouse. That’s the lesson we have to learn and the show portrayed it brilliantly. Where have all the good men gone indeed, dead most likely. I also respect the show very much in showing not only how powerful and evil women can be, but violence enacted against women. Let’s just say that apparently third wave feminism hasn’t hit Turkey yet and they are able to keep faithfully to what people were like back then without biasing against or for one gender. After the show I found myself to have great respect for the Ottoman empire, yet at the same time, I am SO grateful that I don’t live in those centuries. There are a lot of things to be criticized about the Ottoman empire as well as things that are praiseworthy. So I salute the show maker for their success.