It’ll be divisive, but Another Self‘s openness and promotion of understanding and generosity are valuable themes.
This review of Another Self Season 1 is spoiler-free.
It’s getting to a point now where you can’t really ignore Turkey’s output in the film and TV industry, especially on Netflix, where the occasional misfire like The Life and Movies of Ersan Kuneri are vastly outnumbered by intriguing dramas like The Gift and perhaps most especially Ethos, which it seems like nobody watched. You can now add Another Self to the nation’s diverse array of available entertainment, and while it’s ultimately a mixed bag that won’t appeal to some, it’s at the very least a well-put-together drama that is competently structured, stuffed with solid performances, and leans heavily against deeply undervalued ideas of generosity, openness, and understanding.
The premise revolves around three friends — doctor Ada, lawyer Sevgi, and obligatory “influencer” Leyla — who take an impromptu road trip to Ayvalik after Sevgi’s cancer returns with a vengeance after unsuccessful treatment. The idea is to seek out a new form of out-there treatment at the spiritual compound of a local guru named Zaman, but it becomes a journey of self-discovery and spiritual awakening, with each woman, and several other characters who weave in and out of their orbit, beginning to confront their own traumas and anxieties and make decisions that ultimately impact their relationships and futures.
Directed by Burcu Alptekin, who shoots the whole thing with a summery, touristy vibe, Another Self is intended to be light seasonal fare. It mostly succeeds in being just that, allowing the chemistry between the three lead characters and the beauty of the backdrop to do a lot of heavy lifting. But it’s really in its themes that the show is most interesting, exploring how a connection to other people and one’s own self, and perhaps even something more divine, can heal more deeply than our current understanding of traditional medicine. It’s a bit like woo-woo nonsense written down, but the execution is better than I’m making it sound, and a late turn makes it clear that the show isn’t promoting spiritualism as a magical catch-all solution, but more holistic thinking and a better understanding of ourselves and others as being vitally important to how we navigate our lives.
Some viewers will hate this. And, in truth, I thought I would. But there was something I admired about its open-mindedness and positivity, and it’s capable enough on a technical level to put its ideas across. It’s too long at eight episodes, especially since each runs to close to an hour, and there are some contrivances and tropes that make the central story arc a little ungainly around the middle stretch. But those are minor critical quibbles and shouldn’t be overstated — for the most part, this is a fine, refreshingly human drama.