Netflix picks Spain to complete series banned by Turkey over gay character

Production of the original show ‘If only’ was placed on hold last summer after the streaming giant refused to rewrite the script

The trailer for the Turkish soap opera 'Fatmagül', by Ece Yörenç.

Netflix has found a way of getting around some of the censorship it is encountering with its productions in Turkey. The streaming platform has announced that an adapted version of the series If Only, created by Turkish screenwriter Ece Yörenç, will be made in Spain. The decision was taken nine months after the Turkish government refused the series a filming license after discovering that one of the lead characters was gay. Rather than cut the character out, Netflix has handed the project to screenwriter Irma Correa under the title Si lo hubiera sabido (or, If I had Known) with Yörenç acting as consultant.

Starring HBO series 30 coins actress Megan Montaner, If I Had Known will tell the story of Emma, who is entering her thirties with the feeling that life has become dull after 10 years of marriage. A supernatural twist allows her to inhabit her younger body and, ironically, rewrite the script.

Referring to the change of location for the production, Yörenç told Variety magazine that “Turkey’s Ministry of Culture has the power to cancel a show depending on the image it gives of the country. Although it hadn’t used this power before, it applied it to my series though it didn’t give any explicit reason. But we know that it’s because the series has a gay character. They hoped we’d change the screenplay, adapting to the moral norms they expected. But I, along with Netflix, didn’t agree to making any change to the original screenplay and we finally decided to cancel the series. But now I really want to focus on the project, which is very exciting. I want to forget the past.”

All I can say is that we will have diversity in all its senses, and a strong Turkish flavor
Spanish screenwriter Irma Correa

Yörenç has said that several countries showed an interest in taking on the project, and that in the end Spain was chosen because, apart from the fact that Netflix Spain showed the most interest, Correa had already worked with the adaptation of another one of Yörenç's series, Fatmagül, which became Alba in Spain and was also produced by Boomerang.

Joining the conversation on the recent adaptation, Correa told Variety: “All I can say is that we will have diversity in all its senses, and a strong Turkish flavor.”

A year back, Netflix had problems in Turkey with its teen series Love 101, also due to the potential appearance of a homosexual character. Rumors began to circulate on social networks that one of the characters would come out as gay as the plot developed. The rumor triggered an outcry and Netflix had to release a statement denying the storyline. Despite these clashes with the authorities, Netflix has just opened a production headquarters in Turkey, as it did in Spain in 2019, and has a dozen projects in the pipeline.

Meanwhile, Netflix Spain has revealed it will be making two new series besides If I Had Known: the action-packed Baruca, created by Victor Siera and Xosé Morais and starring Alberto Ammann, and the drama Intimidad, created by Verónica Fernández and Laura Sarmiento.

English version by Heather Galloway.

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