Hulu Brothel Drama ‘Harlots’ Is Inspired by ‘London Guide to Whoring,’ EP Says

TCA 2017: Moira Buffini reveals new show took language from popular annual called “Harris’s List of Covent Garden Ladies”

Last Updated: January 7, 2017 @ 4:29 PM

“Harlots,” the upcoming brothel drama from Hulu, was inspired in part by a book described by executive producer and co-creator Moira Buffini as a “London guide to whoring.”

Speaking Saturday at the Television Critics Association (TCA) Winter Press Tour, Buffini said the show took language from “Harris’s List of Covent Garden Ladies,” an annual travel guide of sorts in the late 1700’s that tipped men to the best brothels in the city.

The series is set in 18th century London, in which Margeret Wells (Samantha Morton) does her best trying to run her own brothel. Her life is thrown into chaos with the arrival of Lydia Quigley (Lesley Manville), a rival brothel owner with a ruthless streak.

Alison Owen, another executive producer on the show, said it was important from the beginning that the show not just be about sex.

“It was very much important to us from the beginning to make it all about the female gaze,” Owen said. “Everything is looking out rather than looking in at these women…You’ll see there’s as much male nudity as there is female nudity in the program. But it was very important to us that it be empowering, to look at these women in a different way. There’s no male gaze. It’s all looking outwards.”

“Harlots” premieres on Hulu on March 29.