One in five women in London in 1763 were prostitutes, and many of them by choice.
Hulu’s new series “Harlots” explores the world of brothels in Georgian London and the women who made the decision to make this their life’s work. For some London women in the 18th century, being a whore was the best possible option, even better than marriage, because it offered the possibility of upwards mobility, independence and even home ownership.
Told from the female point of view, the series will explore the economics, the rivalry and the family dynamics that impacted the lives of sex workers during the time. Samantha Morton stars as the madam Margaret Wells, whose daughters Charlotte (“Downton Abbey’s” Jessica Brown Findlay) and Lucy (Eloise Smyth) are destined to join the family business.
Their chief rival is Lydia Quigley (Lesley Manville), who seeks to lure in clients by offering a more polished set of prostitutes with artistic or social accomplishments. Undermining Margaret’s brothel isn’t just spite; it’s business.
Women run the show behind the camera on “Harlots” as well. Alison Owen and Debra Hayward executive produce the series, which is written by Moira Buffini. Watch the trailer for “Harlots” below:
“Harlots” will be released on Wednesday, March 29, on Hulu.