4½ (TV series)

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4½ logo.png
Genre Comedy-drama
Teen drama
Created by Marianna Bajusz
Starring
Composer(s) PERSON
Country of origin Varkana
Original language(s) Varkan
No. of seasons 5
No. of episodes 60 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)
Producer(s)
Editor(s)
  • PERSON
  • PERSON
Camera setup Single-camera
Running time 39–44 minutes
Production company(s)
Distributor THING
Release
Original network VTV
Picture format 1080i (16:9 HDTV)
Audio format Dolby Digital 5.1
Original release September 15, 2011 (2011-09-15) – November 26, 2015 (2015-11-26)


is a Varkan television comedy-drama series created by Marianna Bajusz, which premiered on 15 September 2011 on VTV. The show is set in Klow and follows the lives of three student flatmates sharing a three-bedroom apartment (4 rooms total, including the kitchen/living room, plus a bathroom, the ½, according to Varkan naming conventions): Tatuli Glonti (Eka Sokhadze), Marika Jologua (Nino Khorava) and Samira Tahami (Parisa Khansari). Their relationship evolves as the show progresses, and they complete their respective studies at Klow University over the series' five seasons.

Production

Conception

4½ was created by Marianna Bajusz, who wanted to create a series that explored Varkana's youth who grew up during the Varkan revolution. The show title comes from the type of apartment where the flatmates, the main three protagonists, live together as students renting the place, and was chosen by Bajusz to reflect a particular home setting.

Bajusz said, before the series finale, that it was difficult to write for Samira Tahami because the character was so unpredictable and morally questionable: "I'm going to miss the show when it's over, but on some level, it'll be a relief to not have Samira in my head anymore."

The concept emerged as Bajusz was taking the Capital Metro and overheard a heated debate between two university students about the Varkan revolution, of which her husband, incumbent President Giorgi Latso was an integral part as member of the Council of Ten at the time.

Development

The network ordered twelve episodes for the first season (including the pilot), which eventually became the format for all the following seasons. Klow's 7th District was chosen for the production's location due to the favorable conditions offered by the district for filming times and the cinematographic potential. It was shot primarily on 35 mm film, with digital cameras employed as needed for additional angles, point of view shots and time-lapse photography. 4½ reportedly cost 1 million lari per episode to produce, lower than the average cost for a basic cable program.

Filming locations

The apartment's terrace, where several scenes are located

The apartment building used for filming is located at 41ა2, Dzmebi Zubalashvilebi Street, 7th District, Klow. The building was bought in 2009 by Marianna Bajusz and following a notice of expulsion, renters eventually moved out after a year, according to Varkan law. Filming for Season 1 began in September 2010, with most scenes filmed in the 7th District of Klow. Bibo Bar in the 6th District acted as bar Simba where live gigs are held every Fridays. The show's popularity has led to the growth of Bibo Bar to the point where the owners changed the name of the bar to Simba in 2013, using props from the film set as permanent decoration. Makharadze metro station on the Green Line is also a recurrent filming location as it is widely used by the characters.

Filming also took place in the communes of Zestafoni, Kojori, Chiatura, Vale, Oni and in Marqash, Lagash and the international city of Harsalem.

Themes

4½ consists of various themes, such as love, friendship, rivalries and psychology, and explores the reasons behind them. Bajusz explained, "much of the show is based on actual situations of modern Varkan youth, especially their social relations." Three of the show's most prominent themes have been politics, friendship and romance.

Politics is a core aspect of the show, helping to create an atmosphere involving current events. Bajusz stated of the political element, "A lot of times, the politics for us are like the crimes, or it's the courtroom, the police precinct, or the medical operating arena – it was like our home turf." She said the other shows rarely focus on the court case or medical problem being dealt with, but are more about the people. "For us, that's what politics was. It was never about being directly involved in the political process, but it was about what was happening to the people when political events occurred or new policies enacted."

The show's premise is the friendship between the three main protagonists, Tats, Mari and Samira, which Mari refers to as the trio. They are three university students who are flatmates in the main setting of the series, their rented apartment. Bajusz described the romance in the series as "a bunch of youngsters that carry around the weight of society quite a bit. Will Tats ever fall in love? Will Mari ever get in a stable relationship? Do some of them feel guilty for being happy? Are they all lying to themselves?"

Music

Music plays a significant part in the plot and the movement of the scenes throughout the show. Bajusz revealed that each episode is named after a particular song, band or album that has something in common with the theme of the episode. Popular indie music has been featured on the show, and various artists have guest-starred.

Casting

Featuring four regular speaking roles in the first season, the majority of the ensemble cast was assembled from August to September 2010. Eka Sokhadze and Nino Khorava – who started auditioning in July 2010 – were the first two actresses to be chosen in August for the lead roles of Tatuli "Tats" Glonti and Marika "Mari" Jologua, respectively. Parisa Khansari and Vasili Kartvelishvili also auditioned successfully and landed roles in the series by the end of August. Khansari had initially turned down the part of Samira. Actors for the roles of Elene Natenadze and Salome Nadiradze were found in September when Tsisia Metrevel, and Ketevan Gugeshidze were cast. Metrevel first read for the role of Tats in August but was then asked to try Elene after Sokhadze was cast.

As the show progressed, numerous recurring guest stars appeared in the show. Rezo Bagashvili signed on to portray Goga Chkheidze. Merab Devidze and Juka Tsiklauri took the roles of Zura Manjgaladze and Nanuka Bakuradze, respectively. Zura Manjgaladze portrayed Raes Ramberani, Mari's boyfriend in season 4 and 5. Kakha Kepuladze made several appearances as Dato Matsavariani throughout the show's first three seasons.

Series overview

Season one: 2011

Samira painting the apartment in Season 1

The first season premiered on 15 September 2011, and concluded on 1 December 2011.

Tatuli "Tats" Glonti (Eka Sokhadze), Marika "Mari" Jologua (Nino Khorava) and Samira Tahami (Parisa Khansari) are three flatmates who share an apartment in the 7th District of Klow, while studying at Klow University in economics, law and computer science respectively. On their first days of their new university life, they encounter a series of different people leading to comical or dramatic situations. Their friend and bartender at Simba, Nika Tsokonelidze (Dorothea Kartvelishvili) gets arrested for assault and ends up on probation. Mari starts dating her childhood friend Giorgi who turns out to be obsessive with her, which starts an abusive relationship. Problems erupt when Mari gets drunk and Tats and Samira have to bring her to the hospital. It is revealed that Mari was an alcoholic, and she is forbidden to drink again for a period of time after receiving a liver transplant. Meanwhile, Tats meets Samira's family, despite her initial unwillingness and in her turn is unwilling to introduce her friends to her family living in Zestafoni. Mari sleeps with other people than Giorgi several times, including women, making her realize she is bisexual. Samira wins several coding competitions while Tats tries her best to avoid annoying people at the university. They meet Elene Natenadze (Tsisia Metrevel), their neighbor and stalker, who also attends Klow University and tries to befriend them. The season ends with Mari revealing to be Jewish and Tats reacting with a simple nonchalant "ok" which becomes one of her catchphrases.

Season two: 2012

Mari talking on the phone with Tats while having intercourse in Episode 5 of Season 2

The second season premiered on 13 September 2012, and concluded on 29 November 2012.

The second season focuses on Tats and Samira continuing university; Mari taking a year off from school; Nika trying to get herself a worthy boyfriend; Elene spending more time with the flatmates and trying to befriend them, and the arrival of Tatuli's cousin Xanthe (Sofiko Amiridze) in their life. The first couple of episodes feature part of the winter vacation, namely the week before the start of University classes.

Many guest stars were cast throughout the season including Merab Devidze and Juka Tsiklauri as Zura Manjgaladze and Nanuka Bakuradze respectively; Vano Tselidze as Gocha Korkhelauri, Samira's childhood friend; Rezo Bagashvili and Yuri Agekian as Goga Chkheidze and Avto Qajaia, Samira's particular friends; Irina Iamanidze as Qetevan Ananidze, the flatmates' neighbor; and cameos by Die Taube Detektive and Franz Ferdinand.

The season focused hugely on Goga Chkheidze's arrival and his developing friendship with the other characters. At the end of the season, he gets called a "beta orbiter" by Samira after Samira tricked him into believing Elene was in love with him. Samira alienates Goga, but they reconcile during the last episode. Other story lines include: Mari and Giorgi's attempt and ultimate failure at having a successful relationship and the revelation of Mari's mental illness; Dato's traumatizing experiences at dating; and Tats' attempts to find herself through writing and flirting with Mari's older brother Hans.

Season three: 2013

Tatuli during episode 7 of Season 3

The third season premiered on 12 September 2013, and concluded on 28 November 2013.

Season three's main plot revolves around the animosity between Nanuka and Elene, Mari and Giorgi's tumultuous relationship after their break up and Mari's new relationship with Raes Ramberani. Raes and Mari are in love, but Mari's unexpected severe depression causes her to stop talking to everyone except Tats and Samira for most of the season. Hans's baby is born, while Tats ends up finishing her book and tries to publish it, but in vain. The second half of the season builds on the complications of Tats's unusual relationship with her family, Goga's attempts at finding a girlfriend while being pursued by Maia, Natia and Tamuna, and Samira trying to get an internship while tricking Goga. The season also focuses on Avto's attempts at finding a girlfriend only to realize he is in love with Xanthe. Vano, Goga and Dato end up working at the same place, while Tats finds a night shift job and spends less time with the group. She gets assaulted in the middle of the night while getting home to Mari and Sarmira's shock who get her to the hospital despite her protests. Later, Mari goes quest to find out how her biological mother really died which leads her to discover that she committed suicide, which conflicts her. In episode 10, Mari attempts to kill herself by overdosing on her medicines. She is brought to the hospital by Hans and Raes, while Elene is trying to find Samira. Tats is informed by a call from Raes about the situation. The group ends up all going to the hospital to see Mari who enters into depression. By the end of the season, Mari and Raes broke up. Mari is confused about her life and who she is, while Tats develops new friendships with Mitsos and Thanasis. In the finale, Mari is seen embarking a SAK Varkana plane to Marqash, Lagash at Vale Airport.

Season four: 2014

Elene and Ana during episode 8 of Season 4

The fourth season premiered on 11 September 2014, and concluded on 27 November 2014.

Mari's trip to Marqash was initially supposed to be temporary and only last a couple episodes into Season 4, but contractual problems with actress Nino Khorava led to her exclusion for the season until a contract was agreed. In August 2014, Khorava reportedly agreed a contract for 15 episodes, which allowed Bajusz to include her in the season's last three episodes and the whole of Season 5.

At the beginning of the season, Xanthe Tselidze (Sofiko Amiridze), Tatuli's cousin, moves in with Tats and Samira in the apartment replacing Mari as the third flatmate and taking her room. Tats has a newfound philosophy and says "yes" to everything, even romantic situations. Samira continues to work on her internship, and is offered a full-time job at the end of the pilot episode. She soon begins dating Temo Tan (Talu Vang) and by the end of the season wonders whether to move in with him or not, realizing she is slowly drifting away from her friends. Meanwhile, Elene begins an affair with Ana Lomidze (Maite Tsintsadze) who may have an ulterior motive for being with Elene. After admitting he had feelings for Ana, Zura nearly dies running away from the apartment and getting hit by a car. The season also focuses on Goga and Natia's friendship turning into a relationship due to Samira's manipulation and the effects of Tats's philosophy leading to a one-night-stand with Anastasia Utyosiv (Zlota Osadchuk). At the end of the season, Mari makes a choice between staying in Lagash or returning to Varkana, and Goga makes a choice between Natia and Tamuna. Qetevan is seen leaving town, while Tats decides to drop her new philosophy by rebuking all love declarations towards her.

Season five: 2015

Xanthe and Avto playing piano in Episode 2

The fifth season premiered on 10 September 2015, and concluded on 26 November 2015.

On 3 December 2015, the series broadcast its finale on Varkan television on VTV. Several former 4½ cast members appear in the finale, including all the main characters including Juka Tsiklauri, who played Nanuka Bakuradze.

Season 5 begins with Zura being released from the hospital, surviving his accident. Samira quits her job and goes on her way to try to start her own company in Kojori. Goga breaks up with Natia, realizing their relationship cannot work. In episode 3, Elene moves in with Xanthe and Tatuli, taking Samira's room in the apartment, after her family relocates to another commune. Avto and Xanthe start dating and soon become one of the show's favorite couple according to the public. Samira has difficulties with her newly-born business, while Mari returns to Varkana to finish her studies in Zestafoni University, moving to the neighboring commune. Tats and Mari meet each other by accident in Zestafoni when the former was visiting her family. Things are awkward as they meet, but they reconcile, although both are aware their relationship is not the same as before Mari's departure. Meanwhile, Zura and Nanuka go on a trip together in Kotcija; Anastasia debates whether to return to Kalinova once she graduates; Goga moves to Naruja after finding a job there; and Tats begins dating Giuli Chkhartishvili, the bartender at Simba, initially to "get free booze". By the end of the season, Xanthe break up with Avto and starts dating his brother Zaza (Simu Liu), Elene finally gives up on dating her long-time crush Mari, Samira makes a profit with her company, and most characters have graduated. In the series finale, Tatuli realizes she has a few credits left to take before she can graduated and starts insulting the university rector who turns out to be Giuli's father.

Cast and characters

From left to right: Eka Sokhadze (Tatuli), Tsisia Metrevel (Elene), Nino Khorava (Marika), Parisa Khansari (Samira) and Sofiko Amiridze (Xanthe)

Main characters

Actor Character Season(s)
1 2 3 4 5
Eka Sokhadze Tatuli "Tats" Glonti Main
Nino Khorava Marika "Mari" Jologua Main Recurring
Parisa Khansari Samira Tahami Main Recurring
Dorothea Kartvelishvili Nika Tsokonelidze Main Recurring Recurring
Tsisia Metrevel Elene Natenadze Recurring Main
Xanthe Tselidze Sofiko Amiridze Recurring Main


Broadcast

first aired in Varkana on VTV, Tuesdays at 8:00 pm, local time.

In Aetolia, the series was broadcast on Dyo, Wednesday at 8:30 pm, local time with subtitles.

In Vasaras, the series was broadcast on ??? with subtitles and proved to be quite popular.

Reception

Critical response

initially received mixed reviews. The show was considered to be one of the more anticipated new shows of the 2011 television season. Though the pilot was the recipient of many positive reviews from publications such as the Tribuna and Simartle, other reviewers described it as a guilty pleasure rather than an hour's worth of must-watch television.

As the show continued its first season, the response became considerably more positive, and by the second season critical response was favorable. 4½ was designated the "Greatest Comedy-Drama of All Time" by the Tribuna. The paper wrote, "the show has resurrected the potential for scripted dramas to be effective social satire — to present a world more accurately than a "reality" program can. 4½ presents a whole generation's view of the city and Varkana has a whole."

The Matsne said, "VTV's 4½, a slick prime-time more drama than comedy about a neighborhood packed with edgy young adults and simmering personal secrets, is one of the fastest-growing shows on Varkan television." The Metro commented, "4½ is a welcome surprise ... Every choice it makes from pacing to photography to music seems just about right, and the casting is inspired." Olivia Pelipini called the show a "guilty pleasure" and said they had not had one "this guilty" since over a decade ago. "Their relationships change so quickly you'd need a spreadsheet to keep up," she stated. "As Samira put it to Tats, 'Natia clearly wants Goga, but I think Goga wants Tamuna. And I know everyone wants Mari, and I don't know who the hell you want,' to which Tats replies sarcastically 'I want you, of course,' thus confusing everyone." However, Pelipini criticized the lack of parents in most of the characters' lives except for Goga and Mari. "Any time family threatens to get involved, the writers make the characters block their parents and put them out of the equation," said Pelipini.

Cultural influence

In 2012, Bechdvit reported the show has had a profound impact on Varkan politics, saying 4½ is probably "the first [show] to have been conceived, in part, as a political marketing vehicle". According to Razhden Arsenidze of the same paper, the show helped the general population accept the reforms of the Varkan revolution, calling it "a propaganda tool for the aristocrats." Other media commentators have seen the show's influence positively, noticing how the Varkan youth now saw politics as something cool and to be interested in. In 2014, Simartle praised the show's portrayal of mental illness through Marika's character, saying "it teaches the population that mentally ill people are still people and ought to be treated as such, not to be locked in asylums or psychiatric wards to lock them out of society."

In March 2015, in honor of the series' 50th episode, Klow's prefect Bidzina Ivanishvili visited the set and proclaimed the date 4½ Day, citing the show's cultural influence and impact on the economy of the Varkan capital. "4½ has made Klow a central character. While 4½ is drawing fans in with its plot twists, the show also attracts many of them to visit Klow, contributing to show a different perspective of our beautiful commune. In fact, the economic impact of 4½ and other television shows and films that are made in Klow really can be felt directly in all districts. The 50th episode of 4½ is a real landmark, and I want to congratulate the show's cast and crew," he stated.

Breislandic remake

A Breislandic version was put in development in 2017.

On 6 June 2017, Freeform pressed forward with a pilot. The re-imagined TV show will follow a similar premise as the original Varkan series and will be set in Salzgitter. Lily-Rose Depp, Haley Pullos, Tiffany Espensen, Kirrilee Berger, Taylor Blackwell and Elise Luthman have been cast in a direct adaptation of the original series, following the lives of Tatjana (Depp), Maria (Pullos), Elsa (Espensen), Nina (Berger), Helene (Blackwell) and Sofia (Luthman). On 7 July 2017, Douglas Booth was cast in the role of Hans and Rhys Matthew Bond was cast as Karl, Maria's boyfriend and childhood friend.

The show will be written by Joshua Schwartz and Stephanie Savage's Imperium Herstellungen. Diane Ruggiero-Wright wrote the adaption and will serve as showrunner. Victoria Mahoney will make her directing debut with the pilot episode. Marianna Bajusz, creator of the Varkan series, will not be involved with the project due to her travel ban to Breisland. Imperium executive Lisa Rowinski will serve as co-executive producer.

According to MAGAZINE, new character descriptions have been given to characters, which follow similar lines to the original cast with slight changes. Tatjana "Tats" is a con artist and thief with a heavily inflated sense of her own attractiveness, intelligence and potential. Maria is a spoiled, vapid, upper-class party girl who seems to have three main goals in life: have fun, look hot, and get guys. Elsa is a talented and cocky student with a promising career ahead of her who is used to everything going her way. Nina is a tough and trashy girl, street smart with a hair-trigger temper and a penchant for beating the crap out of people. Helene is awkward and geeky and lives next door. Sofia is Tatjana's cousin and the straight man in the group with her life already planned out and organized.