If someone asks you what has been the most marketable commodity since the dawn of time and continues to be so till date, what would your answer be? Well, if you ponder over the question for a while, you’ll soon realize that the commodity in question is sex. Nothing in the history of mankind has been as popular and notorious as the trade of sex. Naturally, as a result, prostitution is the oldest profession known to human beings. Throughout history, tales have been written on the trade of lust. We find such examples even in the ancient epics written both in the East and the West. One such tale written in recent times is the novel ‘The Covent Garden Ladies’ written by British historian and novelist Hallie Rubenhold. The book fell in the hands of Alison Newman and Moira Buffini, who decided to convert it into a television series, and thus ‘Harlots‘ was born.
The story is set in London in the middle of the 18th century where sex has become a major industry because of the extreme patriarchal nature of the society. There were only two options available for women to achieve economic prosperity. They could either marry a well-off man, or had to enter the prostitution trade. The central characters of this story are the owners of two such brothels – Margaret Wells and Lydia Quigley. When Margaret wants to move her brother to Soho to serve a better class of people, she faces opposition from Lydia, and thus begins their rivalry.
Samantha Morton and Lesley Manville both play their characters Margaret and Lydia respectively with great command and ease. It is their performances that take ‘Harlots’ to greater heights as a gripping tale of English society in the eighteenth century. If you loved watching this show and are looking for more titles that explore similar themes and ideas, then we’v got you covered. Here’s the list of best shows similar to ‘Harlots’ that are our recommendations. You can watch several of these series like ‘Harlots’ on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime.
5. Secret Diary of a Call Girl (2007-2011)
The story of how this series got made is as interesting as the series itself. When trying to buy the rights to the blogs of a writer called ‘Belle de Jour’ (inspired by the Luis Bunuel movie of the same name), Avril MacRory and Paul Duane came across Brooke Magnanti, who herself was working as a call girl while working on her doctoral thesis. The story of the show is inspired by the various experiences Magnanti had in the business. Magnanti’s blog, ‘Belle de Jour: Diary of a London call girl’ became an instant hit and even managed to win Guardian newspaper’s Best British Weblog 2003. Her identity was well-discussed in the media, and finally, when Magnanti decided to come out with her identity, it became national news.
In the series, the leading character is called Hannah Baxter. Besides being the protagonist, she is also the narrator of the tale. We follow Hannah’s life as she tries to balance her personal and professional lives. The reason that this series has found its mention on this list is that just like in ‘Harlots’, here we witness how prostitution plays a huge role in today’s world and how it has become the life of countless women. ‘Secret Diary Of A Call Girl’ received positive critical acclaim from most critics despite some feminists claiming that the series objectifies women.