The Life and Movies of Ersan Kuneri review – a woefully unfunny affair

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: May 13, 2022 (Last updated: January 20, 2024)
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The Life and Movies of Ersan Kuneri review - a woefully unfunny affair


Unfunny, bizarre, and overlong, this comedy series lacks both laughs and insight.

This review of The Life and Movies of Ersan Kuneri is spoiler-free. 

Netflix’s woefully unfunny and brutally overlong new Turkish comedy The Life and Movies of Ersan Kuneri is the least fun I’ve had in the streaming world this week, which is saying a lot since I spent the better part of yesterday watching and reviewing a motocross show for children. But here we are. This eight-part satire about the fickleness and inflexible attitudes of the movie industry is a real chore and a pale imitation of a better show in The Naked Director.

The comparisons with that two-season Japanese hit can mostly be found in the titular Ersan Kuneri, played by the show’s creator Cem Yilmaz. He’s an erotic film director trying to break out from beneath the uncouth umbrella of adult entertainment, and he plans on doing it by making serious mainstream films, from period dramas to horror flicks, anti-drug message movies, superhero actioners, and melodramas, without a care in the world for what anyone else in the industry thinks of him or his work. (Which is to say all the cares in the world – you know how narcissists are.)

The way to make a show or film about the creation of shows and films is to focus on the people involved in them, but The Life and Movies of Ersan Kuneri doesn’t do that, instead focusing on the word “movies” in that title at the obvious expense of every other element. Its structure finds a few minutes of setup segueing into huge chunks of the actual movie Ersan is creating; episodes disappear inside each production, and there’s rarely if ever a theme or point threaded through them to justify spending so much time there. And because the show itself is largely a slapstick comedy, all of the movies Ersan stars in feel the exact same, despite the entire point of them being diversity and range.

Because of this archly cartoonish approach, it can be difficult to tell what’s terrible acting and what’s a put-on. Every character is sending up some kind of archetype, but they never turn the parody off, so there’s never a chance for any actual humanity to creep in. The jokes are similarly drawn-out and mostly fall completely flat, which unfortunately doesn’t stop anyone from extending them beyond the point of reason.

The idea behind The Life and Movies of Ersan Kuneri isn’t an inherently terrible one, but it required a distinction to be made between the show and the films within it. This is never really achieved in any way, from the production design to the tone to the performances. There’s frequently so little distinction that in spots I wasn’t entirely sure where one ended and the other began and needed the outfits and props to do some of that heavy lifting for me. Although, admittedly, that could be because I was scarcely paying attention after a few deeply samey episodes had convinced me there was little else to see here.

Without a straight man or halfway competent execution, The Life and Movies of Ersan Kuneri is a determined misfire that one suspects most casual viewers won’t bother to finish. And they’d be better off not doing so if you ask me.

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Netflix, Streaming Service, TV, TV Reviews
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