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turkish for beginners prod stills 8
Josefine Preuß as Lena Schneider (LEFT) and Pegah Ferydoni as Yagmur Öztürk (RIGHT)

Cultures clash and hormones rage in the hilarious and critically-acclaimed German comedy Turkish for Beginners.

Praised by DW as “a highly entertaining bonanza of cultural stereotypes,” Turkish for Beginners stars Josefine Preuß as Lena Schneider, a typical 16-year-old German girl whose parents are divorced. She’s constantly annoyed by her dorky little brother Nils, and she desperately misses her best friend Kati, who recently moved to America. Her mom, Doris, is a decidedly anti-authoritarian psychologist; her idea of good parenting is to give the kids free reign and to talk it out afterwards. So far, so good. But Lena is horrified when Doris decides to move the family in with her Turkish boyfriend Metin and his two kids! Now, not only does Lena have to adjust to life in a new house and a new school, but she also has two brand-new step-siblings to deal with – Cem, a macho wannabe whose main goal in life is being cool, and the stern, hyper-religious Yagmur, who masks her grief over her own mother’s death by throwing herself into Islam.

This cross-cultural merger of families forms the basis of a smart, fast-moving and definitely un-PC sitcom, in which stereotypes are presented, examined and ultimately blown apart: Tough Turk Cem’s best friend is Greek, anti-Western Yagmur secretly watches pop music videos on TV, and Lena herself yearns for the kind of strict parenting that her liberal mom is incapable of providing.

Also starring Anna Stieblich (who failed to get Martin and Julia an apartment in Episode 3 of The Weissensee Saga) as Doris, Adnan Maral (who played a Roma in Donna Leon’s Brunetti: The Girl of His Dreams) as Doris’ policeman boyfriend Metin, Iranian-born actress Pegah Ferydoni as Yagmur and Austrian-Tunisian actor Elyas M’Barek as Cem, the series ran for three seasons (52 episodes, all of which you’ll see on MHz Choice over the next year) and proved so popular that it also spawned a feature film spin-off in 2012!

Production Stills