If you’re reading this thinking telenovelas are for “old people,” think again. I got hooked on this one, and you probably will too. Stiletto Vendetta (Ufak Tefek Cinayetler) will make you feel equal parts intrigued and frustrated. From toxic friendships to a sexist society within a world of appearances, this soap opera’s plot has had me obsessed since I first began to watch it.
The story revolves around a murder mystery that, in order to be solved, the detective has to investigate the past and present of the four suspects, who happen to be childhood friends: Merve, Oya, Pelin, and Arzu.
Let's take a trip to the past. Merve, our queen B, has always been jealous of Oya for having all the good qualities she lacks. Meanwhile, Pelin has always been in love with Oya’s boyfriend, Taylan. So, on a school field trip, they played a cruel prank on Oya by spreading rumors that she and their Literature professor were together. Arzu remained silent and didn’t speak up against the false accusations (a cowardly deed, if you ask me). The accusations resulted in both Oya and the professor being expelled. His teacher’s license was revoked and Oya attempted to commit suicide, but failed and was left sterile.
Fast forward to 20 years later, the four friends are all successful women, and they reunite. Oya became a prestigious gynecologist; Merve married a man with an exceeding reputation and high social status, granting her a gateway to control the town of Sarmasik; Pelin married Taylan and remains Merve’s puppet on a string; and lastly, Arzu became a very happy housewife at the age of 18 with two kids, while Merve and Pelin had one.
Everyone seems to be living their best life, at least from beyond the doors of their homes― and that’s where the world of appearances comes into play.
A World of Appearances
This wealthy society from the town of Sarmasik values status. It's a privilege and a goal for a woman to marry a wealthy man who can provide for them and their children. It's necessary to be able to stay in shape, shop lavishly, hang out with friends all the time, and have help to take care of the house. Even if their relationships are loveless, dead, or rocky most of the time, to the people around, including their best friends, they appear as though they’re living the dream. In this town, a woman who works and doesn’t have a husband or children is seen as pitiful.
A Society of Machismo
These four women are smart, strong, and fearless, but their greatest fear is to lose their husbands, which makes them capable of doing anything to preserve their marriages and maintain their social status, and I mean ANYTHING. Not to mention, they have societal expectations to fulfill. They need to look pretty, allow their husbands to financially take care of them, be good cooks, and, most importantly, be mothers.
I’ll give you an example.
Arzu’s husband, Mehmet, cheats on her with a young pilates instructor. After Mehmet leaves his wife and kids for the girl, Arzu finds herself having to work for the first time in her life, and boy, did she prove everyone wrong who said she wasn’t cut out to work. Not only does she help bring success to the company she works for, but she later creates her own.
She does everything she can so that nothing changes at home with her kids and house responsibilities. She becomes an example of many working moms we see in real life. As Arzu begins to move on and start fresh, Mehmet shames her and interferes in her life, as if he had authority over her. He says that her work is interfering with her primary role in life, which is to be a mother, and that dating again is not an option.
A moment of silence for the lack of progress. That’s just a snippet of the situations you're going to encounter in this series, but some of the women differ and you see them standing up for themselves, within the limitations they have. Despite these and other elements that are present throughout the series, the nature of the friendship between these four women always leaves me astounded.
A Toxic Friendship
Merve, Pelin, and Arzu stayed friends throughout the years. They live near each other and have shared many special moments together in life. When Oya comes back into the picture, she's included in the group, but the rest view her as "different" for being an unmarried, childless, and working woman.
Their friendship revolves around hypocrisy, threats, manipulation, blackmail, and lots of betrayals. Nothing has changed from when they were teenagers. All the contrary. For example, what kind of friends would befriend your spouse’s mistress, support the infidelity, and keep the secret? Perhaps worse, what kind of friend would date your husband behind your back? What kind of friend would do everything in their power to close down your business and bribe your ex-colleague to poison you and drive you to the brink of insanity? This is just a taste of what these women do to one another, and yet call each other sisters.
Although this is a series meant for entertainment purposes, there are many elements worth reflecting upon, especially in our own lives. For instance, think about your society and culture. How are women viewed in it and what privileges and limitations do they have in comparison to other countries? How are you treated by your friends? Do you believe you’re in a toxic relationship? Are you being true to yourself or living your life through appearances?
On a lighter note, if you wish to find out who gets murdered, what roles these four friends partake in the scandal, the lengths they go to to hurt each other, and more, you can watch the entire series here in Spanish. Happy binge-watching!