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Series / 20 Minutes

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I know something crucial you don't: no matter how many years you've set your life right, it takes but 20 minutes to take it all away.

20 Minutes (20 Dakika) is a Turkish television thriller produced by Ay Yapım, starring Tuba Büyüküstün and İlker Aksum.

Ali and Melek Halaskar are a happily married couple who live in Istanbul with their two children, Duru and Yağız. Melek is a successful baker and businesswoman, having established her own bakery, while Ali teaches history at the local high school. With the last installment of the mortgage finally paid, the picture-perfect family is set to achieve their dreams.

Everything changes the night Melek is arrested for the attempted murder of Kerim Solmaz, son of the city's powerful — and unforgiving — mayor. With damning evidence against her and the only witness on life support, Melek is judged guilty and sentenced to twenty years in prison.

Dogged by a vindictive enemy and aided by allies with ambiguous motives, Ali scrambles to uncover the truth and free his wife, while his children adjust to a life without their mother. Meanwhile, Melek struggles to adapt to life behind bars. Singled out for abuse by a merciless warden intent on breaking her will, she resolves to endure and resist from within. Yet as she maintains her innocence, serious questions begin to emerge about the day of the incident — and ultimately, Melek herself.

The premise of the series was inspired by the 2010 American film The Next Three Days, but significantly differs and diverges from its basis in key ways (for details, see Adaptation Deviation below).

20 Minutes contains examples of:

  • Adaptation Deviation: unsurprisingly, the premise takes on a life of its own when expanded to over forty hours of television, but one of the most notable difference between the series and its inspiration is that Melek, unlike her film counterpart, is actually guilty of the crime.
  • Animal Motifs: a handful of characters are known mainly by animal-themed epithets: Kedi (Cat), a famed thief; Kuzgun (Raven), his daughter; Akrep (Scorpion), a violent and domineering inmate; and Fare (Mouse), a timid prisoner who keeps her head down.
  • Asshole Victim: Kerim Solmaz, a serial rapist.
  • Forced Out of the Closet: Özgür is forced to come out to Ali after he is blackmailed for being in a same-sex relationship.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: the Halaskar family.
  • Happily Married: Ali and Melek, though that marriage is seriously tested over the course of the story.
  • Homophobic Hate Crime: Melek first meets Ozgur after he is accosted and beaten by men yelling homophobic slurs outside her business. Although Melek is accepting of his identity and essentially brings him into her family, she agrees to keep it a secret — even from her husband — as he fears he will be assaulted again.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: each episode is named after a place or landmark in Istanbul visited or discussed by the characters.
  • Lady Drunk: Mirel, the chief doctor at Demirbahçe Prison. She usually carries a flask hidden beneath her lab jacket.
  • Spiritual Successor: to The End (Son), another Ay Yapım drama with a single-season arc that heavily incorporates flashbacks. Both series feature a determined yet naïve spouse investigating the fate of their partner, often uncovering unpleasant truths about their friends and family along the way.
  • Time Title: Referencing this line:
    I know something crucial you don't: no matter how many years you've set your life right, it takes but 20 minutes to take it all away.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Melek and Zorba. The latter does most of the ribbing.

Alternative Title(s): Yirmi Dakika