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Netflix Cancels Turkish Series ‘If Only’ Amid Local Pressure to Axe Gay Character

Turkish star Özge Özpirinçci (Image credit: Facebook)

Netflix has reportedly decided to scuttle Turkish romantic drama series If Only rather than confront Turkish authorities over a censorship issue involving a gay character. 

Subscription-only newspaper the Financial Times, quoting Turkish website Altyazi Fasikül, reported that Turkish officials, learning of a gay character in the eight-episode series, refused to grant a filing permit to the original show, which was greenlit specifically for the Turkish market by Netflix in March. It was being produced by Turkish production company Ay Yapim and set to star Turkish well-known Özge Özpirinçci.

According to Financial Times, which translated the site, If Only’s creator/showrunner, Ece, said, “Due to a gay character, permission to film the series was not granted and this is very frightening for the future.”

A spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party acknowledged to FT that concerns were raised about If Only.

Netflix has not commented specifically on If Only. The streaming company did, however, release this statement: “Netflix remains deeply committed to our Turkish members and the creative community in Turkey. We are proud of the incredible talent we work with. We currently have several Turkish originals in production — with more to come — and look forward to sharing these stories with our members all around the world.”

Netflix said in September that it serves 1.5 million subscribers in Turkey, reaching only around 10% of the country’s broadband customers. 

After learning of the cancellation, show runner Yörenç tweeted an earlier quote from Netflix co-CEO Reed Hastings, who told Turkish newspaper Hürriyet in 2018, “We’re in Saudi Arabia. We’re in Pakistan. If there are no problems there, will we have problems in Turkey? I can’t imagine that.”