In recent times, everyone has been talking about Generation Z, and rightly so! People who are in their teens and twenties today are transforming the country: from the students at Boğaziçi University and elsewhere fighting for academic freedom to the millions of young people
Not so long ago, however, it was millennials (those born between 1980 and 2000) who were seen as both the promised generation of social change and, for conservatives, the destroyer of all things holy.
The hysteria around millennials began in the United States in 2011, around the time of Occupy Wall Street. Research by think tanks had just reported that millennials in the US were on the path to be the first generation economically worse off than their parents’ generation.
Faced with the bankruptcy of the American dream, many blamed millennials themselves. In op-eds for prestigious media outlets, wealthy commentators argued that young people were lazy, entitled, and just not interested in contributing to society.
In one particularly notorious article, a commentator argued that the reason millennials could no longer afford to buy homes was that they spent all their money on avocado toast.#OEğrencilerinEvleriBasılıyor
Turkey too has its fantasy of millennial avocado-eaters. Though it is not the fatty, green fruit that is blamed for the bad economic prospects of people in their late twenties and thirties.
Instead, popular complaints about “kids these days” are based on the idea that they “don’t like the jobs” (iş beğenmiyor). If young people would just get over their inflated sense of self and be willing to waste years on higher education only to labor days, nights, and weekends
at an exploitative firm for barely more than minimum wage—why then, youth unemployment would evaporate overnight!
It’s not often that a TV series in Turkey addresses the particular economic and social challenges that millennials face, but Bonkis is here to change that. Available on the streaming platform BluTV, it follows a cast of hipster millennials and narrates their everyday struggles.
In the series, Deniz (a 35-year-old woman acted by the show’s screenwriter Deniz Tezuysal) runs a cafe called Bonkis. The made-up name, she explains, means “someone who eats avocados for breakfast.” #OEğrencilerinEvleriBasılıyor
When the series begins, Bonkis is in serious trouble. No customers are coming to Deniz’s cafe and she is quickly running out of money. During an emergency meeting with her trusty group of co-workers/best-friends (including popular soap opera actor Burak Sevinç as a cook),
they float the idea that the cafe should start selling more popular breakfast foods. How about menemen (a traditional tomatoey egg dish) instead of avocado toast?#ÖğrencilerinEvleriBasılıyor
Deniz is utterly opposed to the idea. Her dream was to open a stylish and original breakfast place, not a restaurant that serves what everybody expects.

So begins the show’s central problem: Deniz and her friends’ plot to save the cafe. #ÖğrencilerinEvleriBasılıyor
The series is a comedy with each tight-paced episode clocking in at no longer than 20 minutes. Writer and main actor Tezuysal was inspired by classic American comedies like Seinfeld and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. #ÖğrencilerinEvleriBasılıyor
As a lovable screw-up, Deniz is always getting into absurd situations in her quest to keep her cafe afloat. In the show’s first scene, we see her practicing a speech to her parents in the mirror.
Though it hurts her pride, she is finally breaking down and asking for a loan. When Deniz finally asks her mom (played by Lale Mansur) in person, she is treated to an all-too-familiar interrogation about
why she isn’t married yet, and what all her more successful friends are doing, and why she left her good architectural career to open this money-pit of a cafe.
At another point in the show, Deniz’s friend Ilgın (Vildan Atasever of İki Genç Kız-fame) finds a rich benefactor who wants to transform the cafe into a “feminist pavyon” (a pavyon is a kind of gritty nightclub where heavily made-up hostesses and singers
When they start serving alcohol at Bonkis as part of the plan, Deniz and her friends begin a cat-and-mouse game with the municipal police tasked with enforcing liquor license regulations. Hilarity ensues.

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