A drama series about rival prostitution houses in 18th-century London, “Harlots” stars Samantha Morten as madam Margaret Wells. The series is executive produced by Moira Buffini, Debra Hayward, and Alison Owen. Lesley Manville, Jessica Brown Findlay.
Season two is set to premiere in 2018.
In her review of season one for Variety, Sonia Saraiya wrote, “Stories about sex work are surrounded by potential pitfalls. There’s the risk of sexualizing the characters to the point of caricatured exploitation; conversely, there’s the risk of making every sex worker’s story a tragedy that ends in misery. There is the risk of making a narrative sex work into an unrealistic parable of feminism, just as there is also the risk of cutting the women’s perspectives entirely out of the story. “Harlots” admirably avoids all of these pitfalls, using the distance of the historical era (the show is set in the late 1700s) to enjoy the juxtaposition of stuffy decorum and bawdy sex work. The show’s characters’ enjoy sex work, and laugh at it, and sometimes absolutely despise it — making for a rounded perspective on the profession that is often hard to come by.”