‘A Round Of Applause’ Review: A Visually Refreshing And Conceptually Interesting Netflix Show


The Netflix Turkish series A Round of Applause possesses the quality to remain etched in one’s memory for a while. At a time when content is generated every hour of the day, coming up with something experimental and unique deserves appreciation. With a linear narrative unfolding over decades, we get a clear understanding of our protagonists through rather surreal visuals. A discussion that has gained prominence in recent times is addressed with the help of absurd images and a hint of humor. The lack of a clear divide between reality, inner voice, and dream keeps the audience guessing at first, but the cohesive plot manages to keep it all together.

A Round of Applause reminded me of a news story that I had come across in 2019—an Indian man planned to sue his parents for giving birth to him without his consent. The media coverage helped familiarize the general public with the philosophy of anti-natalism. The concept of reproduction is criticized here because life, more often than not, involves suffering, and A Round of Applause takes a similar stance. For some, this might be too extreme to consider watching, but let me tell you that the series is layered and does not take a one-dimensional approach. It is the humor that keeps the storytelling interesting and adds depth to the plot.

Mehmet and Zeynep were excited to welcome their baby boy into their lives. As new parents, they suffered from doubt and anxiety regarding how their child would turn out to be. From a young age, their son Metin showed maturity, which was also the reason why he struggled to make friends. He could not relate to his peers and criticized the overrated notion of finding meaning in life. He never found joy in the mindless, childlike activities kids of his age engaged in, and he preferred to spend his time composing poetry. He had a way with words, and while it was a talent he was often appreciated for, his morbid subjects left his readers feeling disappointed and hopeless. Zeynep, like most mothers, expected her son to achieve greatness in life. She believed in his talent and encouraged him to reach new heights, but Metin could never get over his crippling anxiety and nihilistic approach to life. As parents, Mehmet and Zeynep had no choice but to accept that their son was different and not the beacon of hope that they had dreamt of.

Through the course of the six episodes, we get to understand Mehmet and Zeynep as individuals and also their shortcomings as a couple. We also witness the important stages in Metin’s life—from a heartbroken poet to a rebellious rapper and, ultimately, a DJ. The absurd situations are mostly imagination and, at times, wishful thinking. What works for A Round of Applause is that it does not get stuck up in its absurdity; it tactfully also builds each character. The conflict that Zeynep suffers from in the series becomes easily comprehensible because, in a short span of time, we have already learned about her character traits, and the same goes for Mehmet and Metin.

Countless series and films have addressed the complexities of a dysfunctional family, and A Round of Applause successfully provides a fresh take on it. It is the experimentation with the visual language that particularly strikes out. The minute the fourth wall is broken, the series gets all the more personal. The ending is as quirky as one would expect from such a series. Keeping in tune with its surreal visuals, the ending leaves room for interpretation. There are no right or wrong answers or conclusions in such cases, and every interpretation can be equally interesting. The focus of the series is entirely on the narrative, and the intriguing visuals help elevate the experience.

Along with an exciting script, the convincing performances make A Round of Applause worth a watch. Aslihan Gurbuz embodies the many layers of Zeynep and delivers an effective performance. Trapped between perfecting the role of a wife and a mother, there is a sense of relatability in Zeynep. Fatih Artman, as the father, Mehmet, is convincing, and he gets the humor quite right. While most of the characters are unique in their own way, Metin is downright eccentric, and Cihat Suvarioglu does a brilliant job perfecting the role. From the frustration on his face as an unborn child to a grown adult breaking down upon seeing his mother, Cihat succeeds in adding depth to the character. Even in all its absurdity, there is a sense of relatability in the characters and the plot. In recent times, there has been a visible increase in discussion about the impact of broken marriages on children. There is more awareness about how parents can negatively impact one’s childhood, and all of a sudden, generation X has found themselves at a crossroads. Even though this is not directly addressed in the series, the concept of not knowing any better becomes relevant here.

The duration of A Round of Applause felt a little longer than necessary. There is a certain repetitive quality to it, especially when it comes to ideas it hints at, but thankfully, it is not unbearable. Had there been two more episodes, the series would have lost its impact. It could have been more compact, but going by the recent trend of making unnecessarily long shows, A Round of Applause does not fall into the trap. It shows restraint by not choosing to elaborate on every aspect but nonetheless managing to deliver a story spanning decades. The series is dialogue-heavy, and at times, it does feel quite jarring. The over-explanation seemed a little unnecessary, but then again, perhaps it is done keeping in mind the large audience it aims to target.

A Round of Applause is a decent Netflix watch, and it is beyond anything that one would expect on the platform. Especially if you are someone who enjoys unconventional storytelling and wants to engage in a cerebral experience, this Turkish series is definitely recommendable. It is better to have an open mind while watching the show, considering that the ideas might be a little unconventional and contrary to one’s beliefs. The series is entertaining, and the humor helps keep everything lighthearted.

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Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni has worked as a film researcher on a government-sponsored project and is currently employed as a film studies teacher at a private institute. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies. Film History and feminist reading of cinema are her areas of interest.

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