Caroline is sitting in the passenger seat of the gray Mercedes 200. She turns to Ibo, and says, “Take me home please.” Ibo’s eyes light up at the thought.
“With pleasure,” he murmurs. “We can have coffee in your new house and speak a bit.”
Caroline feigns outrage. “Ibo, you’re still married, you saw Mesude, she was like crazy,” she says in her deliberately broken Turkish. “I am afraid of her. They’re going to get the police. You and I … the same house—no.”
“OK,” says Ibo, in full retreat. “I’ll try to be patient until the divorce.”
A white Kia suddenly appears at the top of the road and the vintage Mercedes—or, more precisely, the lowboy hauling it and a 10-person camera crew—comes to a bumpy, unexpected halt. One of the assistant directors spits out a mouthful of expletives. The scene is meant to be taking place in Istanbul, circa 1980, and the Kia has just spoiled the frame. Now, a light rain has started to fall, and one of the members of the crew is wiping the Mercedes’ windshield with a paper towel. Caroline, taking a break from the shoot, is cranking out text messages on her Blackberry.
Caroline and Ibo are characters in As Time Goes By, one of Turkey’s best-known soap operas. With its winding plot and 1980s nostalgia, the series was an instant-hit, shooting to record ratings when it premiered in 2010. Some episodes have commanded almost 60 percent of Turkey’s television audience. Since then, the show’s popularity has quickly spilled across borders. Now in its third season, it is broadcast in 34 countries, from Afghanistan to Saudi Arabia.