Çalikuşu is an historical romantic drama series based on a novel of the same name set in Istanbul at the beginning of the twentieth century. The more accurate translation for Çalikuşu is wren. However, its’ English title is Lovebird which is a nickname for Feride, the main female character.
SET UP FOR LOVEBIRD
As a young child, Feride is orphaned and sent to live with her maternal aunt’s family. Her arrival upsets the delicate emotional balance of the household. Her female cousin Necmiye, particularly resents the attention her mother devotes to the new member of their household. Feride also has a combative relationship with her older male cousin Kamran which originates from a mutual attraction and distrust between them.
Thanks to her father’s wishes for her to receive an education, Feride is enrolled at a local French convent boarding school, where she lives when not staying with her aunt and uncle. Her biggest wish is to fulfill her promise to her dead father to finish school and to become a teacher. But as she comes close to the end of her schooling her relationship with Kamran begins to change and pose a threat to her goal and her heart.
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Feride (pronounced FAIR-i-duh) -Nicknamed Çalikuşu, for her lively, mischievous behavior, she is well-loved by her friends and family, excepting Necmiye. She can be shy and hides her bruised heart behind the facade of a trouble-maker and instigator. She is fiercely loyal but also has a tendency to hold a grudge. In times of trouble, she can be found up in a tree or talking to the stars (which she believes are her deceased parents).
Kamran (Kam-RUN) -The apple of his parents’ eye, Kamran is a successful doctor. Despite a few poor choices, he is a man of honor and integrity who understands Feride’s true nature and keeps a watchful and protective eye on her. He is sweet and patient but loves to tease Feride. He also has a habit of jumping to wrong conclusions where she is concerned.
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Seyfettin (Say-FET-in) -a sweet natured, patient man, he is the head of the household and Kamran’s example of a loving husband and father. He is long-suffering, but when he reaches the end of his patience it takes him a while to forgive. Seyfettin looks out for the best interests of his loved ones in almost all things and is the long-suffering voice of reason in an overly emotional household.
Besime (BES-i-may) -Besime swings from one emotional extreme to the other. A bit of a drama queen, she reacts first and thinks later. She has a soft spot for her children and though quick to accuse is also quick to forgive. In the place of her beloved sister, she loves Feride like a daughter.
Necmiye (NECH-me-yay) -Necmiye has some cause for her jealousy of Feride. Inside she is a hurt little girl who just wants the same love and attention her parents give her cousin and brother. This leads her to make vengeful and self-destructive choices which perpetuate her sad condition. Her stubbornness and naivety lead to worse and worse consequences for her.
This Turkish television series focuses on the twists and turns of Kamran and Feride’s relationship. However, with a fairly large cast of characters, it doesn’t cheat any of them of character development. Aside from Feride’s family, there is Kamran’s friend turned nemesis Selim, his mistress Neriman. Also featured are Feride’s school teachers and friends, Misel & Mari, along with the people who serve in the family’s household. In some ways, this series echoes Downton Abbey as we see the triumphs and trials of both Kamran & Feride’s family as well as the servants who think of themselves as part of that family.
Lovebird definitely has its’ flaws. The ups and downs, will they, won’t they nature of Feride and Kamran’s relationship does get frustrating at times. Their relationship is also challenged by the vengeful actions of others which lead to numerous misunderstandings and separations. This is counteracted by the sweetness of their relationship in the times when all is well.
Fans of Jane Eyre will appreciate the similar innate and internal connection between these two. I really like how the depth of this relationship and the truth of their feelings are revealed in flashbacks of younger versions of Kamran and Feride. I also love their nicknames for each other which vary depending on whether or not they are getting along. And seriously ladies, if a man ever looked at me the way Kamran gazes at Feride with that impish twinkle and pride in his eyes, I would snatch him up immediately!
I won’t lie, this is a romantic drama with emphasis on the DRAMA! So many problems in this show could be solved by a simple conversation. The viewer may find themselves irritated by how far fetched some of the plots can be. Also, certain story lines tend to drag on too long. Then there are also moments on screen with no character dialogue where the camera focuses in on a particular character for longer than necessary.
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Another issue with Lovebird is that I feel some of the dialogue and story lines are lost in translation. There are some things that I believe that are true to their culture which doesn’t make sense or can be misunderstood by an American viewer. The relationship between Feride and Kamran is a perfect example. The whole series is about their romance. Yet they are first cousins who are raised together like brother and sister with the expectation of everyone that they will marry. Other cultural issues surround the roles of men and women and the treatment of women by the men. There are times when the dialogue doesn’t quite make sense when it seems certain phrases or words aren’t translated well. This is a rare occurrence but still creates some dissonance for the viewer.
However, despite all its’ flaws, I have found Lovebird to be utterly addictive to watch. The character development allows the viewer to really connect and relate to these people. I have even found I have some favorites, including Besime the mama drama queen who just wants everything to run smoothly and for her family to be happy. Even with the cultural differences, at heart Lovebird has many similarities to American dramas, including strong family bonds and a love story which is totally engaging.
Lovebird was canceled before it completed the story of the novel. With 72 episodes running around 40 minutes each, it still offers plenty of viewing time for a family and romance you will be sure to love.
Content Note: Though Lovebird has a few scenes of a suggestive nature, there are no sex scenes or nudity. Some personal violence is displayed, but it is never of a graphic nature.
Where to Watch: All 72 episodes are currently available on Netflix.
Photo Credits: Kanal D and Tims Productions
“You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope.
I have loved none but you.”
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21 thoughts on “Lovebird (2013) – An Addictive and Romantic Historical Turkish Soap Opera”
I binged my way through 40 episodes. The drama is addictive! I didn’t find the idea of cousins who were raised together shacking up to be too far fetched. I’ve actually seen that trope play out before in movies.
You’re right though, the series is incredibly frustrating. I gave up after those 40 episodes because there wasn’t a single episode that just let Feride and Kamran just explore their relationship without getting embroiled in family drama. I’m not asking for much, even 40 uninterrupted minutes of them mooning over each other would have been enough. So does the series slow its pace down in the remaining 30ish episodes?
Also, I remember reading somewhere that the show got cancelled. Does it wrap up neatly or does it end abruptly? HEAs are so important to me lol
I haven’t finished the series myself, although I have skipped ahead a bit here and there enough to have an idea of the remaining episodes. The last episode is open-ended, but the happy ending is inferred.
In the actual novel ( I wish they continued and completed the series), Feride runs away on her wedding night after finding out that Kamran cheated on her. For three years she keeps hopping from city to city starting with Anatolia, pursuing her teacher career. Along the way she adopts a little girl who dies at some point, is forced to marry a much older doctor under circumstantial pressure and eventually becomes a widow. Kamran marries the woman he had cheated with and also becomes a widower with a little girl. When Kamran finds out where Firede is, he finds her and ultimately marries her finally bringing closure to their deep, devoted and whirlwind love for each other. Sigh….the end.
Thank you for penning this review. I wish I had read it (along with your reply to the comment on the ending) before starting the series.
I know the male lead from a couple of other dramas (and intensive Instagram following, lol) and I knew that the female lead went on to become his wife irl, so I was very excited to give the drama a try.
The series is incredibly addictive, it’s so tough to pause the binging every time. I tend to get stressed over the eventual happiness of characters, so I gave up at ep32 and skipped to the last episode ..
Boy was that anticlimactic. For a romance so engaging, emotions so vivid and generous to leave you with a hint at a happy ending is just cruel. I am generally not fond of open endings, but this one, in particular, felt like a poor decision. I didn’t know about the cancelation, I would’ve braced myself otherwise.
I may or may not finish the series now, I feel like I’ve gotten the best of it already through +30 eps of pure wholesome goodness. I will probably go watch the leads in their most fan-servicey works to overcome my disappointment.
I did the same watching over half the episodes before skipping ahead to see what happens. With 72 episodes in total, it is a major time investment. And I did find the open ending disappointing. Still, I do like to revisit some of my favorite Lovebird episodes, because I love the characters so much. Are there any other series starring these actors that you would recommend?
The male lead’s most popular works are Kara Sevda as a protagonist and Muhteşem Yüzyıl (The Magnificent Century) as a supporting character for two seasons. I have yet to watch Kara Sevda (which everyone seems to recommend) but I’ve seen enough of Muhteşem Yüzyıl and it’s not worth the effort in my opinion.
I first took notice of Burak on Zoraki Koca (The Accidental Husband), he was 22 at the time and very much a rookie, his character was incredibly immature as well, but it was an overall fun watch with as much chemistry as you’d expect from a young stubborn couple.
As for Fahriye, Ölene Kadar and Aşk Tutulması seem to be the next best thing in her catalog.
They reunite in a 2015 film, but the reviews are scathing, no redeemable qualities apparently (I might still give it a try though, I can’t resist the prospect of a real-life couple’s onscreen chemistry).
I’d say Lovebird is their best work. I will definitely be revisiting some episodes as well. I love romance yet I find most of the genre cringeworthy, so this one is special for me. I’ll come back if I have any recommendations and I’m looking forward to yours.
I just finished the soap opera . It was very romantic, but way too slow. I skipped some parts here and there because nothing was happening . I very much dislike the ending. I was hoping that after so much intrigue Feride and Kamran could finally shows their happiness at its best.
I agree. I wish we had gotten a really clear dramatic ending showing the final resolution of their relationship. Especially after investing so many hours watching them go back and forth.
I was very disappointed in the ending too. I watched ALL 72 episodes. Didn’t skip any of it and after it ended, I felt cheated! Like I wasted the past 2.5 weeks of my life for what?? I didn’t know that 8 episodes were canceled. As I read there were suppose to be 80 episodes? So I feel I’m left hanging at the end, wondering where that child came from and have many other questions. I’d recommend this to my friends if it had a better ending. But I don’t want my friends to be as frustrated as I was. Plus, the lack of good communication between all these people and the lies, oh my! I shouted at the actors a few times in my frustration. The two lead characters are such a handsome couple. Especially Baruk/Kamran! I’m glad to know that they married in real life in June of 2017. They had great chemistry in the movie, but it was like watching a Shakespeare love tragedy. Only worse at the end! I wish the episodes hadn’t canceled. I really wondered if there was more past the train station scene. Wondering if the book is in English and where I could get it?! Might have to buy it if I can, just to know the rest of the ending.
I also watched the entire series no skipping..so very much invested in these characters ive come to love feeling cheated at the abrupt end.
After reading a comment on how the novel ended , there is so much they left out and i had assumed Feride decided to forgive Kamran in thr last episode …but wasnt sure id that was a memory or “real-time” his hopeful face at the end had me beliveing it was real time and feride showed up to return home with him.
But reading the review about the novel and all the marrying other people and of course the adoption and the girl dying..ahhh so much untouched. If i knew ir was canceled before hand id of never started it …though im glad i did.
I am a big fan of the classical Turkish novel “Calikusu”, which this TV series is based on. I think I probably read it at least 10 times. I used to read it whenever I am upset or down. After reading the book, I could’t enjoy the Lovebird. Feride is a more complex and deep character and Kamran is an introverted bookworm in the book, unlike this playful young man as depicted in the series. I checked if they have translated the book into English and yes they did, it is available in amazon if you are interested: The Wren by Resat Nuri Guntekin. Greetings from Turkey 🙂
I would love to read the novel. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. Isn’t that usually the case with film adaptations? It seems they are never quite able to catch the depth and detail of their source books. I did find myself annoyed with Feride at times for some of her juvenile behavior. It seemed like there was a large gap in maturity between her and Kamran. I did like the playful nature Kamran displayed, but who can resist a man who loves books? Not me. I also appreciate fictional heroes who are more reserved in nature, they keep you guessing.
This adaptation is so different from the original novel that I was unable to watch it. I couldn’t stand it. The novel is written in 1922, last days of Ottoman Empire. It is very good book in terms of explaining the economic, political and social situations at that time. Feride is a deep character who is actually sensitive and shy but prefers to hide her emotions. The caracter also has a good sense of humor. The translation may not capture the humorous tone of the Turkish one. Kamran on the other hand is calm and genteel.
My late grandfather met the author himself in real life, and he’d been told that Feride was based on a real person known by the author.
That is so neat that your grandfather actually got to meet the author! I always find books based on real people more interesting. It always makes me want to dig deeper into learning more about the history of the time and learning more about the person the story is based on.
Loved the chemistry of the lead actors. When I was watching this I felt the steaminess of whatever their chemistry was generating. Their gazes and glances and soft touches and sweet caresses…all so innocent. Nothing was over the top and yet…the beautiful romantic elements were there. The element of wanting to see them together made me cling to the hope of the “happily ever after” theme. The longing to see a joyous ending is not only what we wanted for this couple, but what we long for for ourselves. Ecstatic that they married each other in real life and have a beautiful son together…so we have the real life story! What an amazing ending!
this show has really depressed me! i knew it would be canceled so i quit at episode 47. but there was too much back and forth and just too much drama. i LOVED kamran and feride and i am just so so so sad to think that the show ended without a proper resolution, without a flash forward or anything to the future, showing them finally happy. and at peace. i thought quitting early would make me less sad but i am still sad. and worst of all there is nowhere to discuss the show! no reddit or forum, just a few reviews online which are mostly outdated.
I completely understand that feeling. Unfortunately, the lack of online discussion groups for foreign films and series seems to be common.
Today is June 1, 2019, and it appears as though NETFLIX has completely removed the Lovebird series from its site. I was just watching it the day before with anticipation of continuing with the subsequent episodes the next day, as I am so invested in the story. Unfortunately, NETFLIX decided to discontinue showing it. What happened? This was totally unexpected!
Ugh, I hate when Netflix does that. I’ve had that happen to me before and it is sooo annoying! Hopefully, you can find it streaming somewhere else, or maybe it will show up again on Netflix one of these days.
Hi. This is hilarious that there are others just as crazy as I am. I also invested waay too much time in this addictive series but stopped around the 50ish episode thinking I would get back to it and now see that Netflix has removed it. So of course like the insane person I am I start watching another Turkish drama called Gonul. Has anybody seen that and can say any good, bad or ugly thing about it. I really need to find something that has audio in either English or Spanish because this much investment having to be glued to the screen is killing me 🙂 anyway. Thanks for writing about this story.
gud day.. can anybody knows the title of this book /novel and author also so i must know the romantic finally of this stories series… thank you and God bless