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Shahmaran plays with genre and mythology in the service of an intriguing character drama that may be a little too patient for its own good.
This review of the Turkish Netflix series Shahmaran Season 1 is spoiler-free.
I have to admit I laughed at the premise Shahmaran. You may be to blame Netflix. The streamer presented me with a synopsis in such utter seriousness it was almost parodic: A beautiful woman, a handsome man, they’re a perfect match, except for one thing – he’s half a snake. What?
Blending mysticism with romance and fantasy, this is a serious eight-episode Turkish drama, as it turns out, and a “Shahmaran‘ is indeed a folkloric mixture of woman and snake. It’s also a very Turkish take on genre television, meaning much slower, more cautious and more nuanced than most of its western counterparts. If you’re looking for a simple analog, something like The gift would suffice, another female-led Turkish mystery series with fantastic elements (and inconsistent quality).
Shahmaran Season 1 Plot Summary and Review
Our protagonist here is Sahsu (Serenay Sarikaya), a graduate student from Istanbul who makes her way to Adana to give a guest lecture at a university, but takes the time to meet her estranged grandfather Davut (Mustafa Ugurlu), who had abandoned her now-deceased mother decades earlier. But that’s the least of Sahsu’s problems. Her grandfather’s neighbor, Maran (Burak Deniz) and indeed his entire family are deeply involved in a mystical prophecy that they believe Sahsu is an integral part of, and once omens and such occur it turns out they are probably right.
You can see the bones of the character drama here Shahmaran grafted onto the fancier elements. The core relationships are the family one between Sahsu and Davut and the romantic – albeit potentially dangerous – between Sahsu and Maran. There’s also an intriguing push-pull involving Maran and his own family; the struggle between obligation and desire, the things he wants to do and the things he says he must do. The storytelling is patient with these characters and their relationships, feeding details of the broader plot through isolated moments – a sudden fire, an eerie group suicide – and expressing most of the drama in real, human terms.
The pacing could be a bit off-putting. The show is in no rush to get anywhere, but it’s intentionally stable. The characters prove to be a more compelling anchor than the plot. It helps that both Sahsu and Maran are striking to look at. Serenay Sarikaya is very beautiful, although you get the feeling the show puts too much emphasis on it — she strips down to her underwear at least twice in a single episode, and is often framed by a light layer of sweat that glistens on her skin and a cigarette out of her mouth like she’s constantly in a model shoot. It’s not suspicious or anything, just a little distracting, although I think if you can hire good-looking leads like these two, you might as well make the most of it (Maran gets almost the same treatment, always posing like a cover model.)
Is Shahmaran season 1 good?
Aside from this very small nit pick, Shahmaran continues what’s becoming a tradition of Turkish productions on Netflix by being lengthy, patient and intriguing, offering a slightly more serious take on the genre fare Netflix is releasing by the bucketload. Not all viewers will have the time or patience to put in the effort to pull it off, but those who do will likely be rewarded with an unforgettable experience.
You can stream Shahmaran Season 1 exclusively on Netflix.
https://readysteadycut.com/2023/01/21/shahmaran-season-1-review/ Shahmaran Season 1 Review – a genre-bending story of Turkish mythology