TV Review: Harlots’ candy-colored shell can’t hide its politically charged story

This spring, Hulu’s premiering two dramas that explore the oft-fraught relationship between (patriarchal) society and women’s bodies. An adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale will be out in April, when we’ll all surely shake our heads over the dystopian novel’s prescience. But first, the original drama Harlots—a joint venture with ITV—takes us back to a time when an estimated 20 percent of women in London were sex workers, and a full 100 percent of them were expected to feel ashamed about that. That disapproval wasn’t to be aimed at a world that denied women education and advancement, but rather, the women who had the audacity to not lie down in the gutter and die.

But a morality play this isn’t—Harlots may feature characters who are deemed sinners and those who presume to be saints, but they regularly switch …

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