Netflix has rebuffed reports that it will be closing down its service in Turkey, after production on one of its upcoming local dramas – which featured a gay character – was cancelled because of government interference.
If Only was ordered in March and had been due to start filming last week, with local production giant Ay Yapim and writer Ece Yorenc onboard.
However, the time-travelling story – about an unhappily married woman who returns to her wedding night – included a gay character, something opposed to by the Turkish culture ministry, which vets scripts for international productions prior to shooting.
Netflix refused to agree to script amendments, according to the FT, and instead chose to cancel the drama altogether.
Writer Yorenc told Turkish film site Altyazi Fasikul that permission to film the series had not been granted because of the gay character’s inclusion, something she described as “very frightening for the future.”
Rumours that Netflix – which ordered a slew of Turkish originals earlier this year – would be pulling out of the country then spread on social media, but were quickly denied by the streamer, which is believed to have almost two million local subscribers.
Netflix said it remains “deeply committed to our members and the creative community in Turkey”, adding that it is “very excited about the projects that are ongoing and will soon start shooting.”
Netflix’s upcoming Turkish slate includes new dramas Fatma, produced by Basak Abacigil, and Hot Skull, as well as a local version of Acun Medya’s Exatlon format.
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