Netflix has stopped its production of If Only, a Turkish series, following backlash from the Turkey government. The show came under fire after local authorities called for the streaming service to remove a gay character from the script, or else a filming license would not be issued. Netflix did not budge in its original plan, instead of pulling the show altogether rather than adjust the storyline.
The series was first revealed in March to be an eight-part series. Ay Yapim was tabbed as the producer, Ece Yorenc was among the screenwriters, and Özge Özpirincci was set to take on the lead role in the romantic drama. The Middle East country has become one of the fastest-growing markets for Netflix, and this is one of the first times the government has attempted to step in and alter something. In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, a Netflix spokesperson said the company wants to keep building upon their growth in the market. "Netflix remains deeply committed to our Turkish members and the creative community in Turkey," the statement said. "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."
The only other instance the Turkish government seemingly stepped in was with Designated Survivor. Earlier in the year, a takedown order was issued for one of the episodes that depicted a fictional Turkish leader as a villain. The government deemed that this violated its censorship laws, which have become much more strict since 2016 due to a crackdown on freedom of speech following government turmoil. The push by Turkey to censor a show containing a gay character does come as somewhat of a surprise considering same-sex marriage has been legal there since 1923, though some laws have been interpreted to push back on this, and that some of the more well-known Netflix LGBTQ shows like Orange is the New Black and Hollywood have aired uncensored in the country since arriving.
If Only was set to follow the character of Reyhan, a mother of twins, who finds herself in a unique situation being transported 30 years into the past. That's when she lands at the night her husband proposed to her, where she begins to wonder what her life could have been as she currently finds herself in an unhappy marriage.