Looking for a sexy costume drama that reminds you, both in its enterprising female protagonist and thrilling drama, of Weeds and Orange is the New Black? A new series about 18th century sex workers, which premiers Mar. 29 on Hulu, is there for you. Plus, the cast of Harlots includes several British actors who you've seen before in similar roles, but never quite like this.
According to Hulu, the show is about "a brothel owner struggling to reconcile her role as a fierce businesswoman and mother to two daughters" set in Georgian London. "When her business comes under attack from Lydia Quigley, a rival madam with a ruthless streak, Margaret will fight back, even if it means putting her family at risk."
Other members of the Harlots cast include English television and theatre actors Pippa Bennett-Warner, Alexa Davies, Dorothy Atkinson from Call The Midwife, Holli Dempsey, Rory Fleck Byrne from The Quiet Ones, Gerard Monaco, and Poppy Corby-Tuech from The Royals. Almost all of the characters are women, which is particularly refreshing. Here are the four main characters, and the actors who will portray them on Harlots.
Samantha Morton as Margaret Wells
Recently, Morton played the prejudiced no-maj Mary Lou in Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. You might also remember her as Agatha in Minority Report, and from films like In America, John Carter, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, and Synecdoche, New York. She's also the voice of Ruby on Max and Ruby — if you're a parent, older sibling, babysitter, etc. you know that's a big deal.
Morton plays the matriarch/madame in Harlots. According to the official description on Hulu, "She is hungry for success and thrilled when she achieves it – even when her ambition begins to threaten everything she cares for." Margaret is also described as shrewd, indomitable, street smart, proud, loving, and hilarious.
Jessica Brown Findley as Charlotte Wells
You know Findley from a number of projects — she was Lady Sybil on Downton Abbey, the villain in a memorable episode of Misfits, and in films including Victor Frankenstein, Winter's Tale, and The Riot Club. She also shares an episode of Black Mirror with Get Out star Daniel Kaluuya.
Charlotte, in Harlots, is "fashionable and beautiful, a London celebrity and ‘the meteor of the hour.’" She refuses to be tied down and has a "dangerous self-destructive streak" that makes her relationships complicated at best.
Lesley Manville as Lydia Quigley
A working actor in England who has appeared on countless television shows, Manville's film credits include Secrets & Lies, Milk, Vera Drake, and Maleficent.
In Harlots, Lydia is a rival brothel owner with decades of beef between her and Margaret. Hulu describes her as Lady Macbeth. "Her brothel is not a happy place to work; she keeps her girls locked in. But her clients are from the highest echelons of society and walk the corridors of power."
Eloise Smyth as Lucy Wells
Finally, Smyth has been seen in The Frankenstein Chronicles and will be in the upcoming Fortitude, but she is a relative newcomer in the cast.
She rounds out the family in Harlots as the youngest daughter Lucy, "A teenager whose entrance into the family trade was decided at birth because of her gender." However, while she was "bred to please," according to Hulu, she "finds that she’s utterly unsuited to the task."
Based on this cast and the world they inhabit, I already care about these characters on Harlots. When the series premieres, it'll be fascinating to see what's next.