Escape to Dreamland
One of the biggest new stories this week is that 2000’s teen hit THE OC is to be adapted into a Turkish remake, named “MEDCEZIR”, which translates approximately as “TIDES”. The original US show was a major hit, running on FOX ten years ago. This is the first time that the format for THE OC has been sold abroad, and the new show is described as replicating the original with a Turkish twist.
The original show in 2003 was an unexpected hit for Wonderland Sound and Vision and College Hill productions. The show was a textbook creation of empathy and a classic Cinderella story; the outsider from the real world rubbing shoulders with rich people who the audience learned to love, and sometimes despise, as he struggled for acceptance in Newport Beach, a wealthy suburb of Los Angeles.
THE OC was more sophisticated than a simple telenovela because there was a lot of real drama for more discerning audiences. By all accounts, the Turkish remake will use exactly the same format. You can see a trailer for it here:
Josh Schwartz, the writer who created the original series described it as being taken from his own life experience as a Jewish outsider among the rich kids at USC Film School. It is here that the format’s emotional center lies, with the clear empathy that comes from being an outsider – it’s something that basically almost everyone around the world can relate to. Every country has rich and poor areas, every country has a Newport, and everyone in the world can relate to being an outsider. The OC’s combination of real world grittiness with dreamy escape was a winning one.
Escapism is big business. Everyone also dreams of entering a world where their dreams can come true. In his excellent book, THE STORYTELLING ANIMAL, Jonathan Gottschall talks about the importance of Dreamland in everyone’s day to day existence (and especially to children), the vital importance of the subconscious in the way we see the world. It’s also a place where fantasy is acted out as real life inside our minds while we sleep. Escapism is a vital force in global Entertainment. Everyone wants to live out their dreams, but only the boldest or craziest of us actually try and do so. With its soaring palm trees and its fantasy entertainment industry, Southern California was a perfect visual symbol of this, and this was undoubtedly not lost on audiences viewing the show. It looks like the new Turkish show has kept the same kind of imagery:
Everyone around the world harbors this unconscious desire to escape to Dreamland, a warm place where everything looks like an Instagram photo. In times gone by, we used to rely on politicians to bring Dreamland to us here on Earth in the form of the perfect society, but in the twentieth century this backfired and turned into a nightmare.
These days we use TV as our escape. The opening credits of THE OC, with its brilliantly evocative title song perfectly express this universal desire for escape to Paradise, and encapsulates why the show was such a massive hit. Check it out here:
As this blog has repeatedly chronicled, Turkey is one of the world’s most exciting areas in global television at the moment. Its television industry is rapidly maturing, and its audiences are becoming far more discerning. It remains to be seen how MEDCEZIR plays out on Turkish screens, but THE OC’s success seems lie in the fact that while the subject matter may be Escapist, the characters — and the audience — are aware that escaping into dreamland will not solve their real world problems.