Created by Zeynep Gunay Tan, The Club unfolds in 1950s Istanbul and revolves around the lives of Matilda and her daughter, Raşel. We were in awe of how beautifully the series captured the emotional journey of the mother-daughter duo, who were reunited after seventeen years. The first season was a rollercoaster ride with the characters going through personal turmoil, and the heated political climate added to the tension. In the ten episodes, we watched Raşel grow from a carefree youngster into a responsible mother who chose certainty over love. The bittersweet relationship between Matilda and Celebi also deserves a mention. The overall depiction of the Istanbul Pogrom was impactful, especially with Raşel walking amidst the chaos. While the majority attacked the minority communities, Raşel was carrying the love child of a Muslim man and a Jewish woman. The political unrest on the streets depicted the inner turmoil that Raşel experienced once she realized that her child would not be readily accepted by society.
After a promising first season, The Club returns with a mixture of old and new characters. The entire season is told from the perspective of five-year-old Rana. It only makes sense for Rana to mature before her age, considering the kind of complex human emotions that she is forced to understand so young. It was a wise decision to tell the story from Rana’s perspective, given how she represents the clarity and simplicity that a child does, something that is contradictory to the unnecessary complications that adults often indulge in. Club Istanbul was a rainbow paradise for little Rana, as she ran around the corridors and watched the glittery costumes and elaborate decorations with awe. The club was her place of respite. In quite a short span of time, it becomes evident how Rana often fails to fully comprehend her mother. As a child, the idea of what was good and evil was quite clear to Rana, but her mother represented the grays. She often felt contradictory, but she always made sure to let everyone know that her mother was not a bad person. In season two of The Club, Rana is definitely one of the most memorable characters, and Ada Erma is the reason behind it. Her bright, curious eyes and adorable smile make the character thoroughly convincing.
The relationship between Matilda and Raşel has never been easy, and we see them struggle once again this season. The two characters are starkly different from one another, and added to that is the unspeakable past that Raşel could never truly get over. Matilda’s self-assured nature is what makes her the perfect protagonist, but there are times through the two seasons that we get to see the vulnerable side of Matilda. While I do understand the hate that Raşel receives, I think season two does some justice to her character. Raşel is problematic, but we must understand that she has abandonment issues to begin with. She is the reason behind a lot of chaos in season two, but all hope is not lost for the character. Raşel’s transformation in season two felt a little too easy, but thankfully, the realization did hit her, and we witnessed her become her own person. Even though the relationship between the mother and the daughter is complex, the series does not make it impossible to get under the skin of the characters and understand where they are coming from. In the second season of The Club, the misinterpretation felt a little stretched, but overall, the characters do not disappoint.
One of the reasons to watch The Club is the characters—major and supporting. The idea that no one is perfect and everyone is a mixture of good and bad is something that is so easily conveyed through the series. The brilliant performances of the entire cast are definitely the reason why we cannot stop appreciating the characters. Gokce Bahadir as the headstrong Matilda is definitely a treat to watch, as is Asude Kalebek as Raşel. We despised Celebi in season one of “The Club,” but Firat Tanis made sure that we fell in love with the character in the second installment. Matilda and Celebi’s romance is heartwarming to watch, especially the stolen kisses while walking the streets of Pera at dawn.
The set design is definitely worth a mention when it comes to Netflix’s The Club. We witness the extravagance of Club Istanbul along with the chaotic streets, keeping in mind the decade. The warm tones that are usually used when inside the club convey the feeling of a warm, cozy home that Club Istanbul has become to its employees. The club is one of the protagonists, as is evident in the title. It is a place that shelters broken people abandoned by society. Every character that we come across at the club has been oppressed in one way or another. None of them had a place called home, so they turned Club Istanbul into their safe haven.
While the series takes us back to a dark past in Turkish political history, the club acts as a beacon of hope for humanity. The first season was particularly effective in doing so, but in season two, there is a clash between personal loss and the growing shift in the political condition of the nation. New characters are brought in to introduce the political shift, but it is not conveyed as clearly as was needed. At times, it seemed that due to the many characters and their personal motives and problems, the political climate was not discussed with clarity. There are enough and more troubles in season two of The Club. Some felt a little unnecessary, while others added to the narrative and the growth of the characters. Ismet’s character shines through this season, and Baris Arduc is convincing as the new father trying to figure out his responsibilities. The background score is also a highlight of the Turkish series.
The Club Season 2 is surely worth a watch, especially if you have watched the first season. The ending of season two is not as impactful as season one’s, but the message is definitely conveyed. The brilliantly written characters is one of the primary reasons to watch The Club.