Hulu Teases Scandal and Powdered Wigs with First Look at Harlots


Hulu will be getting downright scandalous this spring…at least by 18th century standards. On March 29, the streaming service will debut their exclusive new series Harlots, which offers what executive producer Alison Owen calls a “whore’s eye view” of prostitutes working in Georgian-era London. The show was co-produced by Hulu and ITV Encore, its home network in the U.K. Hulu is Harlots‘ exclusive streaming home here in the States.

The eight-part series stars Samantha Morton (The Last Panthers), Jessica Brown Findlay (Downton Abbey), and Lesley Manville (Malificent). Check out the first-look teaser from Hulu below.

Created by Moira Buffini (Jane Eyre) and Alison Newman (EastEnders), Harlots follows brothel owner Margaret Wells (Morton) as she competes with her rival, Lydia Quigley (Manville). Speaking to Deadline, Buffini said the show was also inspired by the 18th century directory known as “”Harris’s List of Covent Garden Ladies,” which she described as “a London guide to whoring.” (Not to be confused with the rival publication, “Ye Olde Guide to Whoring for Dummies.”)

While the concept and subject matter suggests no shortage of salacious storytelling, Harlots will focus very much on sticking to the POV of the women themselves, rather than a view of them as filtered through any male assumptions or sentiment. As executive producer Alison Owen put it while speaking to critics at a Television Critics Association press event, there are “no male gazes” in Harlots. To that end, the show’s behind-the-scenes creative talent is heavily female, from producers to directors.

And while there will no doubt be sex aplenty, Harlots will be as much — if not more so — focused on the motivations behind it all. Buffini told critics, “It’s a show about economics as much as it is about sex workers… The economics of this world are all-consuming.” It should also make an interesting thematic pairing with another much-anticipated Hulu offering this spring: their adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

Harlots will premiere its eight-episode run on Hulu on March 29.