Işıl Baştuğ & Mahmut Avcı

The show highlights human feelings and sentiment and shows that despite changing circumstances Turkish people`s age-old custom of offering a helping hand to a person in need did not disappear yet. By posing the question, “What Would You Do?” the show calls out to the conscience of the people and brings a light of hope to those who keep complaining about what the world has come to.

You are in the cashier line in a supermarket. There is mother in front of you who wants to buy baby formula for her baby. But she is flustered… You eavesdrop to find out what is wrong. Then you realize that she does not have enough money to pay for what she got. Not knowing what to do she stares at her basket and checks her purse in vain. But her money falls short to buy them.

You are in a pharmacy. As you make your way to the door after you bought some medicine a man walks in to buy poison. You first think of it as a usual request. But then you realize he wants to get poison to kill the dog he brought in with him.

It is easy to come across at least one of dozens of similar incidents. Then what would you do if you run into an incident like that? Would you stop and get involved or just walk off ignoring it?

“What Would You Do” TV reality show on TRT 1 produced by Mahmut Avcı and Işıl Baştuğ wants to see the reaction of people in similar events. The show aims at moving people’s conscious by questioning their feelings. The show is screened with the motto of “We are there when you think no one is watching.”

The show highlights human feelings and sentiment and shows that despite changing circumstances Turkish people`s age-old custom of offering a helping hand to a person in need did not disappear yet. By posing the question, “What Would You Do?” the show calls out to the conscience of the people and brings a light of hope to those who keep complaining about what the world has come to.

Kindness is a Matter of Conscience

“What Would You Do?” team writes a plot and asks the professional actors to play it out in places where they have previously installed the cameras. In addition to the actors there are also collaborators involved. The setting is always a public place frequented by many people on daily basis. The theme is always something pertaining to the cultural and moral values of the society. Once the crew is ready they start waiting until any random person who is totally unaware of the set-up involves in the situation. The events unfold as random people who is oblivious to the show`s presence interfere in. The show continues with random people’s reaction against heart-breaking situations and finale is done with the presenter Altan Erkekli`s entrance to the place with cameramen. Erkekli walks up to these charitable people and interviews them after introducing himself. Sometimes the set up is so real and the situation is so sickening that the kind person is relieved after he learns from Erkekli that it was fictional.

The statistics regarding the the episode’s chosen theme are given in the subtitles during the show`s runtime. For instance if the theme is about children running away from home the statistics regarding the children who run away from home every year come up on the screen. Or if the set up is about mobbing in the workplace the statistics concerning that run in the subtitles during that episode.

When the persons, who interfered in an unjust, unfair or abusive situation enacted by the show`s actors are interviewed later almost on all occasions these people’s common trait is the ability to empathize. “I put myself into his shoes” they say when asked why they reacted the way they did. If there is a child involved in the fiction abusive situation “I just thought what if it was my child” they respond.

The show`s popular themes that hit on the high spots move both the show’s viewers and those who got involved in the situation unaware of that it is a set-up. On more than one occasion even the crew was brought to tears.

One of its producers, Mahmut Avcı who articulated their goal as raising awareness regarding the importance of moral values education said, “We are trying to put on the show the human stories about the situations life throws at us and how we can do the right thing in that situation in line with our values. This show is teamwork and we all believe in the power of kindness. Kindness is about noticing and acting with virtue in a given situation. Because kindness is a matter of conscience.”

The most significant aspect of the show is that it inspires people to ask the question “What would I do if I ran into the same situation?” to themselves.

What Would You Do?

The show was a big hit when it was aired due to the sincerity of the kind people featured as guests in the show and the rich content it offers. Each episode started with a public commentary. For instance if the theme was car crashes the show would start with a short clip about the traffic rules for pedestrians and drivers and emergency aid in case of an accident. Or else if it was about lying there would be a short clip about the faults led by lies.

In one of the episodes, which always have a different plotline, the moment of an accident and the events that followed was screened. According to the set-up a driver would hit a young woman and there would be collaborators among the passers-by. After everyone gets ready the camera starts rolling. The car hits the young woman in her early twenties as she is crossing the street. The passers-by notice that the girl has collapsed after the car hit her. They run to help the victim. After the first shock passes more cool-headed ones try to do the first aid. Some object to the removal of the victim fearing that she might have broken limbs while others insist that she should be removed to the shady part of the road. Some also asks the victim`s name trying to figure out if she lost conscious or not.

There is one doctor and one nurse among those who first arrive in the scene thus they show what should be done in a similar situation by example to the show’s viewers as it is previously mentioned in the show. While one of the show`s inside-men insists to carry the victim lying on the ground to the shade the doctor time and again tells them not to move her. Likewise in the next set-up an unaware passer-by woman checks the victim`s heartbeat first. After she says there is no problem in the heartbeat she suggests to others ready to help out not to move the victim, as she fears that there might be some broken limbs. There are all sorts of people who rush to the side of the victim. While some panic and call doctor friends and relatives others call 991 to report the accident. The story does not end there. According to the plotline the person acting as the offender driver is supposed to get on his car and flee. In order to make an excuse he says “Let me park my car to the rear of the road” which people surrounding the victim strongly oppose. “Let the police arrive first then you can park your car” they say. When the offender driver finds the right moment and runs these kind people are enraged. Yet they do not give up. They repeat to each other the car place number of the car in order to memorize it. Some even run chasing the car. The more seasoned ones take a picture of the scene in order to document it and report it to the traffic police. There is one smart guy though who walks to the car and takes the car keys to make sure that the offender driver can ever never flee the scene. He refuses to give it back to the driver even though he keeps pleading.

When all are angry and upset the show’s presenter Altan Erkekli swiftly walks up to them. Then the tension disappears and the people smile with a big relief.

Another plotline is even more heart breaking. In this episode an actress who plays a homeless woman in rags approaches the cashier in the market. Another actor from the show is on the line playing a random customer. He acts disturbed by the presence of a homeless. While the homeless girl walks to the cashier to pay for two pieces of food items she picked up the so-called random customer in the other cashier makes a rude remark about her. While he pays for his own items he says that he is disgusted to be in the same shop with a homeless. The homeless girl looks at her food and the money she is holding to pay before she starts crying. The actor disguised as an abusive customer goes to the extent of scolding the cashier girl. “Why do you allow in such people into this market” he exclaims.

The cameras previously installed in convenient places are rolling. The abusive customer keeps insulting the homeless girl who turns to another customer approaching the cash register. “Sister I want to buy these but he won`t let me” she says pleadingly. The customer stops and tries to grasp the situation for a moment. Then she turns to the abusive customer and asks “Do you know her?” The actor playing the abusive customer answers “No! She is sleeping on the streets or something. Just look at her clothes. She is up to no good.” He just turns away with a huff and puff. The actress disguised as the homeless girl shows her money and says “I got money, sister. ”

“Right now I am going to report you. Just get out of here. Go do shopping somewhere else. You will leave contagious diseases” the abusive customer continues. The lady tries to keep the homeless girl away from him and tries to prevent the argument from getting out of hand. Just at that moment the abusive customer takes back his credit card from the cashier and says, “I just don’t want to buy from here,” he says before leaving the supermarket in protest. The camera focuses on the kind and caring lady customer. She approaches the homeless girl with compassion. “You should better go to a shelter. Do not sleep rough on the streets. Look how people are treating you. Let`s call the police and they will show you a place” she says kindly trying to help. In the meantime she buys a cardigan from the women`s clothes aisle and puts on the homeless girl. Some of the other customers who have been shopping while these were happening walk up to the homeless girl to give her money. “I got money,” she protests refusing the money. As they walk up to the exit together with the kind lady she turns around and gives a hug to the lady. Just at that moment Erkekli approaches them with the cameras. The lady breaks down in tears after she sees the cameras and realizes that it was fiction. It is such a heart breaking moment that even the crew is moved to tears.

It is a commendable act for total strangers to come together to help out a person in need and watching random people doing an act of kindness renews one`s faith and hope in humanity. This reality TV show aims at raising awareness of kindness and helping people to empathize with others.


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