Erkenci Kus aka Early Bird: GENIUS screenwriting at its best!

Instanbul Enkenci Kuş

Istanbul (not Constantinople). Photo by Mihai Surdu on Unsplash.

I always like to see movies and TV shows that originate from other countries. I love the creativity and seeing what other people in the entertainment field come up with.

Lately, I’ve been watching this TV series that originates from Turkey called Erkenci Kuş (in English, “Early Bird”) and it is one of the funniest romantic comedy shows I’ve ever seen. I swear to you, when I watch an episode, I’m laughing so hard that the entire couch is shaking.

And they manage to make each episode funnier than the last. Serious skill there.

Our heroine is a young, beautiful twentysomething named Sanem Aydin (Demet Özdemir), whose impulsive character and outspoken nature are constantly getting her into embarrassing situations. She works in her parents’ neighborhood grocery store, but dreams of going to the Galapagos Islands and being a professional writer.

Sanem’s parents want her to get a “real” job and threaten to pressure her into marrying local boy Zebercet, otherwise known as Nerdy Neighborhood Guy (or as I like to call him, Mr. “Will-He-Ever-Shut-Up”.) Sanem learns that the ad agency where her sister Leyla works is looking for a general gofur, so she applies and gets the job by demonstrating her photographic memory.

The ad agency has been in business for 40 years and is run by kindly older gentleman Aziz Divit, who has two handsome sons. One is Emre (pronounced Em-ray) and the other is Can (the “C” in Turkish is pronounced like a “J”, so he is called “Jan” in a way that sounds similar to “John”). Emre (Birand Tunca) is the finance guy (and Leyla’s boss); Can (Can Yaman) is a restless, talented photographer and the older brother (I think).

On Sanem’s first day, she is invited to the company’s black-tie 40th anniversary celebration at a local theater. Aziz is leaving for a “cruise” (but in reality, he is getting treatment for pneumonia). During the celebration, Sanem is directed to an upstairs balcony by coworker CeyCey (pronounced like J.J.) by mistake (he’s always mixing things up and easily gets hysterical over things). While she’s up there, a man comes in and kisses her (he expected his girlfriend to be there and the area was heavily shadowed).

Sanem dashes out, all flustered. She doesn’t know who it is, but has some clues: he’s tall, bearded, somehow associated with the company and wearing black dress shoes. Later, she and her friend Ayhan nickname him the “Albatross”.

Can is pressured to take over as creative director and company leader while his dad is away. He initially doesn’t want to do it, but Dad reveals that there is a corporate spy who has been there for a while. They keep losing business to a rival company headed by Aylin, schemer supreme and former ad agency employee until she was fired. Can agrees to stick around and find the spy.

Sanem is in the clear because she has only been with the company such a short time. She’s sticking around because she likes working there and wants to find out who Albatross is. (Hint: He has an albatross tattoo and wears a bird necklace. Coincidence much?)

This show is very funny because the writers exploit the dramatic tension to the maximum level. Sanem’s impulsive behavior gets her into trouble to start with, plus the audience is given information that the characters have yet to learn. (I keep thinking, “Oh, [fill in name of character], if you only knew!” We learn the identity of Albatross early on, but Sanem’s antics are very funny as she tries to figure it out. Albatross quickly realizes who she is — she wears a distinctive, homemade perfume — and can’t resist toying with her a little bit.

Plus, there’s her family that lives in a nosy neighborhood with lots of gossipy people. Her dad Nihat is mild-mannered, but her mom…….! Her mom, Mevkibe, is nice but quick-tempered and when she gets THAT look in her eye, you not only better run, you better make like an Olympic sprinter. Actress Özlem Tokaslan, who plays Sanem’s mother, has created this very humorous expression on her face when it’s time for THAT look (you have to watch the series to understand).

The office is also staffed with lots of gossipy people. There is CeyCey, Guliz (friendly girl, VERY gossipy) and Deren (Sanem’s uptight direct manager and resident coffee addict), plus other extras. People in this office always seem to jump to the wrong conclusions.

I seriously love the office and the Divit house. The office is all glass walls, whites and tans with brilliant pops of color. Very fitting for an ad agency. Definite kudos to the set designers.

The Divit house has a touch of Frank Lloyd Wright about it. I like the glass walls and windows.

The show is in Turkish but it’s subtitled. Even if you watch it without subtitles, the actors for Early Bird are so good that you have some sense of what’s going on. I love that.

There’s a fair bit of physical comedy as well. Example: Sanem tells CeyCey in the Divit kitchen that she has fallen for Can and that it’s a HUGE secret. CeyCey can’t take the pressure. He screams, dashes out to the backyard (still screaming), bounces off a hedge, runs past a tree, stuff some of the tree’s leaves into his mouth, runs back toward the house, pauses for a nanosecond beside the pool (Me while watching this scene: “No! NO! NOT THE POOL!”), jumps in fully clothed and blurts out the secret underwater. Poor guy. Hilarious acting by Anil Çelik, who plays CeyCey.

And remember the corporate spy? (SPOILER ALERT: It’s Emre, in league with Aylin the schemer.) He gives Sanem 40,000 lira to pay off her parents’ debt, but there’s a catch. He convinces her that Can is only there to fatten up the company, sell it for a profit, and put everyone out of work (which includes her sister Leyla). So Emre has Sanem doing some work for him under the impression that she’s helping to save the company. Unfortunately, this leads to doing some work she’d rather not do, including breaking into the Divit house to retrieve a red folder Emre is desperate to get back (if Can sees the contents, it’s game over for Emre) and lying to Can (she’s tried to confess after she gets wise to Emre but keeps losing her nerve).

So there are other subplots going on too. Not to mention that both of our main characters are good-looking and always getting hit on, which leads to yet more complications.

If you choose to watch this most excellent show, I strongly recommend that you start with the first episode and work your way up. I’ll bet you’ll laugh as hard as I do. (Note: You will have to click through to YouTube).


Video credit: Dizi Subtitles, YouTube.


Video credit: Roxy Whit, YouTube.

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