What makes a family a family? Is it blood and genetics, shared experiences, or simply love? Dolunay explores family relationships and why they matter.
Dolunay is a one-season Turkish family drama series with romance and a little bit of lighthearted comedy broadcasted on the Turkish network Star TV in 2017. It is titled Full Moon (official international title) in English or Luna Llena in Spanish. The series consists of 81 episodes that can be watched on YouTube with English or Spanish subtitles. I wasn’t able to find the series on other popular streaming platforms. The timing of each episode varies between 35 and 45 minutes. There is also a condensed version of 26 episodes, each approximately 2 hours long.
The main theme of the series is family. Who is family? How far would you go for those you consider family?
In the next section, I will share with you what I understood from the series with subtitles. Yes, there are going to be major spoilers but I think it’s important to share this perspective because sometimes things can get lost in translation or cultural differences may have an impact on how one interprets the story. I think it’s unfair when this happens with critics that are very quick to judge. Especially with foreign cinema, audiences tend to rely on critics and influencers that sometimes have their own biases or even have no idea about what they are reviewing.
Eventually, I think it’s better to watch it and make your own assessment. Sometimes rewatching is necessary. Afterward, it’s fun to compare with these “critics and influencers” and see how much they got wrong. There is always something. Now, let’s get into the series…
ABOUT THE SERIES
Ferit Aslan, played by Can Yaman, is an astute and successful businessman. He is a born leader who is disciplined in all areas of his life from work to fitness, to health. He is extremely organized and very reserved. He wants the same manner of organization in both his private and professional life. He is particularly strict in regard to his home and those who work in it.
Nazli Pinar, played by Özge Gürel, who is studying gastronomy/culinary arts needs to find a job immediately as she is responsible for covering the expenses of the apartment, she shares with her friend Fatos, played by Öznur Serçeler and her sister Asuman, played by Ilayda Akdogan. She has a stubborn and adamant personality, so she has a tough time keeping a job.
Nazli is hired as Ferit’s private chef and must deal with his specific requirements and rules for preparing his meals. Outspoken, independent, and free-spirited, Nazli initially clashes with Ferit, but the two gradually become friendly with each other as Nazli grows very close to Bulut, Ferit’s 7-year-old nephew, played by Alihan Türkdemir. It is clearly established that Ferit loves Bulut and that Nazli is very fond of this little boy.
Tragedy happens when Bulut and his parents, Demir Kaya and Zeynep Kaya, have a fatal car accident. Ferit feels that he must take responsibility and raise Bulut for his beloved late sister Zeynep. He stays a few days with him until a custody battle begins with Demet (Aliona Bozbey) and Hakan (Necip Memili). Demet is Bulut’s aunt (Demir’s sister). Hakan and Ferit don’t like each other. And it is early established that Hakan is interested in Bulut’s inheritance (Pusula Holding). Demet and Ferit were past lovers engaged to be married.
Asuman made a copy of a document and provided this to Demet. Asuman’s actions cause Ferit to lose custody and Nazli is unable to confess this to Ferit. In the meantime, Nazli was able to set up her restaurant “Sakura” with her business partner Manami. Ferit becomes an investor in the restaurant.
As time goes by their flirting increases and they grow closer, but he gets furious when he learns the truth about what Asuman did from Deniz, Ferit’s musician brother-in-law, played by Hakan Kurtas. Nazli can’t find more ways to apologize and ask for forgiveness. In the meantime, Bulut being the smart boy he is tries to find ways to get them together. As they spend time together, they see how sad Bulut is and try to make him happy.
Ferit and Deniz learn from their trusted mechanic that the car accident that took the lives of their siblings was provoked. At the same time, Hakan learns that Demet aborted his child and confronts Demet. Bulut gets scared and calls Nazli. Ferit immediately suspects Hakan and goes berserk on him. Nazli arrives and pacifies Bulut. Ferit, and Nazli take him out of the house. Deniz checks on his sister before he leaves.
Ferit tells Nazli that he thinks that Hakan sabotaged the car of Demir and Zeynep. Ferit gets depressed remembering his sister. Nazli tells him not to dwell in the past and to create new beautiful moments to remember. Deniz arrives and they have a discussion about Hakan. Nazli stays over on Bulut’s request. Deniz tries to talk to Ferit in an apologetic manner for having spilled the truth about Asuman the way he did.
Ferit and Nazli agree to engage in a fabricated marital relationship to help his chances of regaining custody of Bulut. Ferit still doesn’t forgive Nazli. Things are complicated when Deniz, falls in love with Nazli and Demet tries to use this to turn Deniz against Ferit. In the meantime, Ferit and Nazli must deal with Bulut’s trauma and their own feelings for each other.
The mix of family and friends, who are considered family, has the intention to help but sometimes hinder Ferit and Nazli’s relationship as it evolves from business to friendship to love. They struggle to get there as they slowly realize that their feelings are real.
There are several sub-themes I gathered from the series including Loyalty to Family, Love and Protection for the Vulnerable, Commitment to Relationships, Guilt and Sacrifice, and the Family Unit.
THE FAMILY BOND
We learn about the many relationships established in the series which can be considered as family bonds. We learn how some bonds are strengthened and how others are weakened and even broken.
Ferit and his sister Zeynep: even though as kids they annoyed each other and still do as adults Ferit loves his sister very much. That love extends to his sister’s son Bulut.
The trio of Nazli, Asuman, and Fatos: Asuman is an annoying young lady who doesn’t care about anything. Still, Nazli loves her and is always nagging her to be better. Then there is also her friend Fatos who is like a sister to her. She helps her handle Asuman and is her trusted confidant.
Deniz and his sister Demet: Deniz knows that his sister isn’t a saint but still loves her. When she is in trouble, he gets protective of her. But that changes when he learns a painful truth that ruptures their bond.
Demet and her husband Hakan: Demet have an unhealthy relationship with Hakan but there is to an extent an unspoken loyalty there. When she betrays him by aborting their child, we learn what he is capable of. Despite everything, Hakan is still “family” to Demet as she remains loyal to him covering up for his crimes.
Nazli and Ferit: when Nazli and Ferit get married they form a family bond to protect Bulut. Through that bond their love blossoms and goes through challenges that bring them closer.
Deniz and Asuman: Asuman goes through a transformation and Deniz is an important actor during that change. He helps her see her value and she helps him see new horizons. As expected she develops a crush but somehow she understands that it could only remain that for the moment. He becomes her mentor and she becomes his supporter. To each other, they are family.
Nazli and her parents: Her father felt betrayed when she agreed to marry Ferit without consulting them. The sisters are living on their own to pursue their dreams. At one time when her father was visiting and Deniz was there he thought she liked him. She feels sad that it had to be this way but they remain important in her heart.
Ferit and his mother: Ferit has a complicated relationship with his mother. She doesn’t like Nazli and moves with them, in her mind to put some order in the house. He gets defensive and tells her that he loves Nazli because she is the opposite of her. When he learns a painful truth from their past their relationship improves.
LOVE AND PROTECTION FOR THE VULNERABLE
Nazli feels immediate affection for Bulut but that develops into something stronger like an awakening of her maternal instinct when she sees him suffering for the loss of his parents. Ferit’s love and protection for Bulut is not something you see every day but it should be.
COMMITMENT TO RELATIONSHIPS
Nazli committed to first the working relationship with Ferit. Demet offers her a job to stay at their home with Bulut, but she turns it down because she believes that Bulut will be back with Ferit. Unknowingly Nazli and Ferit are committed to each other during their fake marriage and knowingly they both remain loyal to Bulut until Asuman gets in trouble.
GUILT AND SACRIFICE
Nazli, unable to deal with the guilt of breaking Ferit’s trust, accepts his proposal to marry him in order to regain the custody of Bulut. She loves Bulut even though she did not give him birth and agrees with Ferit that he can’t stay any longer with the likes of Hakan and Demet. She constantly is looking for Ferit’s forgiveness. Ferit and Nazli try their best to help Bulut in any way they can even if it means disregarding their personal relationships with other people and putting their business responsibilities on hold or delegating them to others.
THE FAMILY UNIT
Bulut loves his uncle and likes Nazli. When his parents tragically died his uncle became his father figure and Nazli with her mother bear protectiveness took over the maternal role.
As Bulut is dealing with the trauma of losing his parents, they both are there for him to console him and help him. Their presence is of great importance for that 7-year-old boy and their mental strength and patience are commended. It is not easy to deal with these circumstances and sometimes professional help is needed.
GIVING IT A CHANCE
How did I find this series? This time it was the YouTube algorithm that highlighted the first episode as I was looking for something about the moon cycles and full moons. I got curious and found the whole series on YouTube and eventually watched the whole series.
The leads kept me watching the series. They have good chemistry and are so cute. Of course, I’m not denying that Can is very handsome and that it was one of the main reasons to keep watching. He has another series titled “Erkenci Kuş” where he is physically transformed into a Greek god or maybe a Norse God. He also has another series where he co-stars again with Özge titled “Bay Yanlış”. Do you see how this easily can become addictive?
Back to Dolunay, there are certain characters that I initially found annoying to watch like Nazli’s sister. Bulut was great. He managed to be smart, playful, vulnerable and pitiful, cute, and annoying. The kid can act. The bad guys are typical villains, always after monetary gain no matter the cost. And sometimes appear as a wolf in sheep’s clothing, as Hakan does with Bulut.
The series kept me engaged with the custody battle, the romance, and the intrigue. I like how some characters evolved and were completely different persons by the end of the series, including Nazli’s annoying sister. Life experiences mature people in strange ways sometimes, but they are very much needed for the transformation into adulthood.
Dolunay “full moon” symbolizes the first time Ferit and Nazli realized they are attracted to each other during a night with a beautiful full moon but don’t have the courage to tell each other how they feel. But for me in the context of family, it means having a sense of completeness, and wholeness towards family in whichever form it materializes in someone’s life.
I enjoyed the series very much. The drama is grounded. It’s not over the top and in many cases, the actions and reactions to certain situations were relatable. I cheered when Ferit almost broke Demet’s hand and got emotional when Bulut broke down at the hospital and when he was going through his trauma.
It is great that Ferit supports the entrepreneurial spirit of Nazli. They both have their businesses but they know that they need help from their business partners and close friends to make time for Bulut. In times when the family unit is losing value watching this series reminds us that we must value and fight to protect and preserve our family bonds. It is not always an easy task to do but it’s worth at least one try.
A family is a group of individuals related by blood, marriage, or adoption that provides love, support, and a framework of values to each of its members. For children like Bulut having a family means having support and security coupled with unconditional love that slowly will help him overcome his trauma. For young adults like Asuman, family is ideally the constant that will always look to see and bring out the best in them even if they cannot see it for themselves during those rebellious years growing up.
My Rating: 8/10
“Family isn’t always blood, it’s the people in your life who want you in theirs: the ones who accept you for who you are, the ones who would do anything to see you smile and who love you no matter what.” – Maya Angelou.
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All images in this publication belong to the original creators and are used as references under fair use.