The TV Answer Man!

Harlots Could Be Hulu’s First Big Hit

Harlots is what would happen if The Sopranos and Gossip Girl had filthy, complicated sex.” — Vox.

“Harlots…is a fizzy fantasy of female independence – and a beguiling one at that.” — MTV.

“This is the TV equivalent of what English people of a certain age like to refer to as a “marmalade dropper:” a story so shocking that you spill jam off your toast.” — Newsweek.


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Those are just some of the rave reviews coming in for Harlots, the new Hulu original drama about 18th Century prostitution in London. (Harlots‘ first episode in an eight-episode first season premiered yesterday on the streaming service.)

RottenTomatoes.com, which tracks critical reviews, gives the show a score of 96 out of a possible 100, noting that 24 of its 25 reviewers liked Harlots.


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And many of those reviewers like it a lot.

“Shocking and fascinating, Harlots will keep you watching not for the sex and nudity but for the women trying not to sell their souls along with their bodies,” writes Gail Pennington of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The reviews are so strong that Harlots could turn out to be Hulu’s first original hit. The subscription video on demand service was late to the original programming game, leaving Netflix and Amazon to collect both trophies and viewers for such originals as Netflix’s House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black, and Amazon’s Transparent.


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Hulu has tried to catch up with original programs such as The Path and Shut Eye, but they have failed to generate much excitement among critics or consumers.

But Harlots could change that, and the timing would be fortuitous for Hulu, which plans to launch a live streaming service in the next few months

Harlots stars Samantha Morton as a brothel owner in London whose business is jeopardized when a rival brothel opens up in town. The first episode was posted yesterday, and Hulu will add a new episode every Wednesday until all eight episodes are available.

— Phillip Swann