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TV Series Review

London was a very different place in 1763. Poverty, social attitudes and economic disparities placed women at the bottom of society, forcing them to depend on the financial stability of a man or starve.

But what if you didn’t want an oppressive husband? Or, more commonly, what if there were no decent men around and love was more a fairy tale than a reality? You could always make a living selling sex. That’s what Margret Wells did.

When Margaret was just 12 years old, her mother sold her into the sex trade for a few shillings. With her innocence stolen and forced to adapt to a harsh and harrowing life, Margaret was left with one truth: The only safety is in money. And she’s used that same truth to build an empire.

When this Hulu show began, Margaret owned and ran her own brothel, filled with women who were looking to independently support themselves with their bodies. Two of those women are Margaret’s own beautiful, coveted daughters, Charlotte and Lucy. But, as you can imagine, not everyone in London is on the same fleshy page as Margaret and her girls.

By Season 3, Margaret’s critics seem to have gained the upper hand. Margaret is being forced to live in America, having escaped the noose. Her one-time rival Lydia Quigley is in Bedlam, an insane asylum. Charlotte is running her own brothel while fighting off pimps looking to take control of her trade. And Lucy is the most coveted prostitute in all of London and she’s just secretly gone into business with a few strangers, opening one of the first gay, male sex brothels—at a time when homosexuality was a crime punishable by death.

Sex Sells

Given its reliance on sex, skin and more sex, Harlots is one of those shows you’d expect to see on HBO. Except that it’s not. In 2017, Harlots found a home on Hulu and it has been explicitly lying there ever since.

Man alive. This show is graphic. And as prostitution is the premise, sex is everywhere. Women are raped and engage in almost every form of consensual sex. We see graphic movements, and sexually-oriented sounds and visuals come across the screen multiple times every episode. Nudity, featuring both men and women, is common. And even when ladies of the evening are dressed, their outfits expose lots of cleavage. Lesbian couples emerge, and a recent episode features a prominent gay male character getting ready to debut himself in his own secret brothel. And, of course, there’s the murder, torture and incest you’ve got to deal with, too.

All that said, Harlots is rising in feminist acclaim. Executive Producer Alison Owen said of the show, "It was very important to us from the beginning to make it about the female gaze. We were determined to make something different…Our hope from the beginning was, 'Everything from the whore's eye view.'"

But no matter whose gaze is the focus here, this show is one that is best avoided as it places explicit sex, violent control and profane power on the highest of pedestals.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

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Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

July 10, 2019: "Episode 1"



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Samantha Morton as Margaret Wells; Lesley Manville as Lydia Quigley; Jessica Brown Findlay as Charlotte Wells; Dorothy Atkinson as Florence Scanwell; Kate Fleetwood as Nancy Birch; Eloise Smyth as Lucy Wells; Bronwyn James as Fanny Lambert; Holli Dempsey as Emily Lacey; Jordon Stevens as Amelia Scanwell; Douggie McMeekin as Charles Quigley 16 episodes; Danny Sapani as William North; Aidan Cheng as Fredo; Ash Hunter as Hal Pincher; Alfie Allen as Isaac Pincher; Liv Tyler as Lady Isabella Fitzwilliam






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On Video

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Kristin Smith

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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