Home TV Shows Reviews ‘A Round of Applause’ Netflix Series Review - Flawed, Funny, and Offbeat

‘A Round of Applause’ Netflix Series Review - Flawed, Funny, and Offbeat

In this decades-spanning drama, a guy navigates his eccentric family while suffering from existential sorrow and yearning for his former existence in an orange.

Vikas Yadav - Thu, 29 Feb 2024 17:24:11 +0000 1268 Views
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According to Netflix, A Round of Applause is "cerebral" and "offbeat." The Google dictionary defines cerebral as something that's "intellectual rather than emotional or physical." Based on this definition, I can totally disagree with the c-tag given to this series. Emotional moments are present in A Round of Applause, and they work marvelously. The show is not covered in pathos. The sad sentiments stay briefly on the screen, though they pierce your skin within that short period of time. I am thinking of that scene where a mother, Zeynep (Aslihan Gürbüz), touches a fake snake and then proudly tells a stranger that he is giving his coins to her son, Metin (Cihat Suvarioglu), whose job is to pose like a statue on the streets. I am also thinking of that heartbroken face that comes when Metin mocks a business plan.

What this means is that the actors deserve a round of applause here. Their wonderful presence infuses solid emotions in scenes that otherwise would have merely felt unbearably quirky or - in the worst case - flat. Fatih Artman, as Metin's father Mehmet, doesn't immediately grab your attention. I initially found him as someone who was trying too hard to impress. But Artman starts shining when his character gets older. I loved how his expression quickly shifted from happiness to distress to quiet acceptance when he ran into his son in the apartment. The star of this show, though, is obviously Gürbüz. She is in excellent sync with this offbeat material and its offbeat rhythms. The wide smile Zeynep gives after the disappearance of her baby exudes comic lunacy. This countenance elicits chuckles, though it also makes you think this character is close to becoming crazy. You can sense how much effort Zeynep is putting into maintaining her sanity.

Unfortunately for her, Metin doesn't put even half the effort into leading a life of stability. He is a special child, not just because of his intellect, but because he remembers everything that happened to him when he was still inside his mother's womb (how exactly, though? Don't ask). As a teenager, Metin shows signs of becoming a rapper. As an adult, he is seen working as a DJ at a club. Later, he, like a statue, sits in a meditative pose on the streets. Metin, a narcissist, cares too much about the world, the society, the politics and too little about his friends and family. He looks down on everybody. He is sad that people around him are not as smart as him. But even Superman has a weakness, and math is Metin's kryptonite. Ask him what's seven times three, and he will reply, "66." Still, Zeynep throws a lot of affection towards her kid. She defends him by saying something like, "Well, he's good at other things like, say, managing a building." Zeynep simply refuses to see any fault in her child, or rather, doesn't mention them in front of him. She sugarcoats her criticisms when Metin sings a song for her as a birthday present. "I can help you with the lyrics," she says eventually. Zeynep just wants to spend time with Metin.

A Round of Applause begins with an amusing note and then continues to build itself towards something surreal. It opens with Zeynep and Mehmet shopping for baby products before realizing that they have not had sex yet. We then see Mehmet and a pregnant Zeynep with two of their friends, who at first look like a couple but then start to act like children. I became fascinated and wanted to see where and how far the series would go with this absurdity. I was underwhelmed when it all turned out to be a dream. Thankfully, the series had more delightfully bizarre surprises for me. It takes time to attune to the show's, um, logic. At the beginning, you wonder if A Round of Applause will turn out to be a pretentious nuisance. It, after all, gives you scenes like the one where a man lights a cigarette in one room, and the smoke comes out of the mouth of a woman sleeping in another room. We also watch a husband and a wife speaking to each other telepathically. And is the viewer supposed to find any connection between an emotionless delivery guy and an unemotional nurse standing near Zeynep during the delivery? The only thing that's common between them is their impassive faces.

If you think all this is too much, wait until you find out where the baby disappears or observe Zeynep's conversation with another Mehmet. Not everything in A Round of Applause works well. I rolled my eyes when a boy started narrating an Icelandic poem. The show has its moments that leave you irritated, that flame suspicions like, "Maybe the title should be taken as a sign of self-congratulation." Moreover, its political jabs mostly land with a thud. And yet, it's impossible to tear your eyes away from the screen. I was seduced by the confidence with which it, at one point, moved away from the realm of fiction to enter the genre of documentary. I smiled when the typical visuals of a heartbroken man (roaming around the city) were replaced with that of a heartbroken kid. In a show that exhibits big, wild, idiosyncratic habits, it's easy to lose sight of that small, funny moment where a girl, who is irked by fancy words like coerce, uses the word "pedantic." A Round of Applause has flaws. But it's also extremely interesting, and entertaining. I liked it.

Final Score- [7.5/10]
Reviewed by - Vikas Yadav
Follow @vikasonorous on Twitter
Publisher at Midgard Times



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