Marriage safe and sound: subjectivity, embodiment and movement in the production space of television in Turkey
Akinerdem, Zeyneb Feyza
This is an ethnographic study of a television show titled Esra Erol’da Evlen Benimle (Marry Me on the Esra Erol Show), the most popular of the televised matchmaking formats in Turkey since it premiered in 2007. The marriage show is part of the daytime flow of television broadcasting in Turkey that, as an entertainment format, sets the everyday rhythms of life and provides content for debates/judgements on – as well as being an increasingly popular route to – marriage.\ud \ud I explore the marriage show as a reality show format, which is an outcome of the global flow of media images, narratives and genres. As such, it is a television show that translates the neoliberal imaginary of the self as an aspect of subjectivity in search of survival, security and happiness, into the Turkish context. What distinguishes the marriage show from other reality show formats is that it orients the self towards the desire and expectation to get married as a means of survival. To explore marriage as an orientation of the self through television, I contextualise the show within the contemporary practices, policies and debates of the family in Turkey.\ud \ud By deploying the concept of frame, I investigate how the format is produced by normatively framing the narratives of the participants as marriageable subjects, while also registering the show as a quality program which is seriously dedicated to marrying people within the norms and conventions of marriage in Turkey. Taking the production space of the marriage show as the field of research, and female subjectivity as the particular focus, this study is an endeavour to show how practices, tensions and sensibilities pertaining to marriage and family in Turkey produce female subjects, bodies, self-narratives and movements across the intense present of television production.