1 season

Watch it for...

A mysterious and winding drama with a strong female lead and modern take on the Turkish, Kurdish, and Persian folklore of Shahmaran.


Besides the mysterious opener of a man standing on a cliff and the voice-over waxing poetic about how humans have betrayed everything they’ve loved since the beginning of time, Shahmaran starts out like a lot of complex family dramas: the lead, Sahsu, a Psychology Ph.D. candidate from Istanbul, heads to the countryside to confront her estranged grandfather Davut, who abandoned her mother when she was still a little girl. 

The show diverges into the mystical pretty quickly after that, with a neighbor calling her brother Maran and saying, “I swear, it’s her!” with ominous music playing in the background as Maran looks warily at his neighbor’s home.

Spanning eight episodes, each close to an hour, Shahmaran often ventures into subplots, much like movies or series based on books do (or shows setting the stage for a second season). The connection between the attractive leads, Sahsu and Maran, lends a kind of will-they-or-won’t-they dynamic, with a lot of the tension building at the local, secluded lake in the heat of Turkey’s summer.

However, the show is too layered and slow-moving to fit into the soap category. Every scene builds on the last, moving more and more towards a break from reality, a blend of drama and supernatural thriller.

Emily's thoughts

I personally hadn’t heard the story of Shahmaran before watching the show, and it was kind of more fun that way. While I went down many rabbit trail Google searches after I finished watching the series, I enjoyed each twist and turn, picking up on the clues but not sure exactly where they would lead. With that said, given that it’s a twist on the legend of Shahmaran, which already has many variations due to its antiquity, a Google search at the beginning of the series won’t lend too many spoilers.

I needed a series that would hold my attention (I don’t speak Turkish so I needed to watch the subtitles) and whisk me away as I recently recovered from a mild concussion, and Shahmaran was that. Whether you’re interested in folklore, stunning cinematography, or looking for a winding drama/fantasy with leads who can’t seem to stay away from each other, Shahmaran is intriguing, surprisingly sentimental (given the opening premise), and full of both literal and figurative twists and turns (yes, you should know that there are snakes).

Watch Shahmaran on Netflix!