Love 101 review – standard teenage drama livened up by some real-life controversy

April 24, 2020
Jonathon Wilson 2
Netflix, TV Reviews
3

Summary

Love 101 delivers somewhat standard teenage drama that’ll satisfy genre fans, but the attendant controversy remains the most noteworthy thing about it.

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3

Summary

Love 101 delivers somewhat standard teenage drama that’ll satisfy genre fans, but the attendant controversy remains the most noteworthy thing about it.

This review of Love 101 (Netflix) is spoiler-free.


Coming from the deeply and often dangerously conservative nation of Turkey, the big dramatic question surrounding Ahmet Kat?ks?z’s new teen drama Love 101 is whether one of its characters is gay. This, you understand, would be a particularly big deal, the idea of rebellious 90s high-schoolers not entirely conforming to the “national and spiritual values” of Turkish society being… a surprise, I guess? Since this is a spoiler-free review I’m not going to tell you either way — but it’s as good a reason as any to keep watching a show which provides reliable genre entertainment with a surprising amount of character depth across eight 40-odd-minute episodes.

That isn’t to say that Love 101 does anything revolutionary, obviously, unless you count trying to upset a national homophobic equilibrium (for what it’s worth, the Turkish wing of Netflix offered a “fake news” statement on the matter that would read as cowardly whether the show contains a gay character or otherwise.) The plot of off-the-rails high-schoolers facing expulsion who try to set their compassionate teacher Miss Burcu (Pinar Deniz) up with basketball coach Kemal (Kaan Urgancioglu) is a standard one, designed mostly to allow for the usual beats of romantic comedy and coming-of-age drama.

The students at the centre of this plot, Eda (Alina Boz), Osman (Selahattin Pasali), Sinan (Mert Yazicioglu) and Kerem (Kubilay Aka), do a decent enough job of bringing to life a script by Meriç Acemi and Destan Sedolli that is familiar if tinged with enough period and cultural detail to feel slightly fresh for Western audiences. That having been said, the idea of students causing havoc and only bonding with a sympathetic authority figure is a played-out one, though the strict faculty is apparently less of a villain for Love 101 than the possibility of progressivism.

Details aside, the controversy surrounding this show is more important than anything else, since it represents both the power of storytelling to challenge outdated national cultural attitudes and an opportunity for Netflix, never usually shy of controversy, to make a moral point. It doesn’t really matter if Love 101 contains no gay characters or a hundred — the attention garnered by the palaver is enough to get the conversation going, which is a win in itself for right-minded folk who think it’s a shame that homosexuality should be a source of outrage in the first place.


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2 thoughts on “Love 101 review – standard teenage drama livened up by some real-life controversy

  • April 27, 2020 at 12:31 pm
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    Seriously, “the deeply and often dangerously conservative nation of Turkey”? If you’re going to make a statement about a country, just do your research, man. This ignorance sounds a lot more conservative. Any ‘non-western’, somewhat-in-the-middle-east is the same in the eyes of some westerners I guess. Then it may be the government thing, but hey, if cultures and people in countries were just defined by their government, then right now I guess a lot of the countries inthe world would pass as coservative. And yes, actually, the world is full of conservative people, and they ARE everywhere, just try to see beyond stereotypes please, writing reviews, I think you owe that.

  • May 18, 2020 at 4:06 pm
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    Lol that you call the country ‘dangerously conservative’ and then say the tropes in the show are tired even though they aren’t conservative at all. Not everywhere is Western and for Turkey this show actually is unique. Furthermore more people thought the backlash about Osman was stupid than they were worried that he’d be gay.

    Maybe stuck to reviewing UK and American shows.

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