'Harlots' season 3 review: Wells women are aiming bigger, finding new business opportunities and having fun along the way
Hulu’s ‘Harlots’ is a period piece which speaks to the current times in more ways than most contemporary shows. In the last two seasons, we have seen the Wells women and their associates go through hell and back, many times over. In a world that tells them love is not real and affection temporary, they stick with each other and hold each other up.
Season 3, which premieres on July 10, will see them continuing on with their hustle despite the absence of mommy dearest. As we know, Samantha Morton’s Margaret is in hiding and her elder daughter Charlotte (Jessica Brown Findlay) has taken over as the bawd. She is doing a fine job, and in moments of adversities, we see that she has the same fire in her that drove Margaret.
Meanwhile, her younger sister Lucy (Eloise Smyth) has truly embraced her sexuality, and gone is the tepid girl from season 1, who believed she was not meant to be a harlot. She knows her worth and is not afraid to make the men work for it. It has been a joy to watch her transformation on screen, and in season 3 we see the culmination of her journey.
Her dreams are going to get bigger and better this season, and it surely is a thrill to watch her work to make them come true. She is truly independent for the first time, and we get to see her make choices that she wants to make, rather than do things that would make her mother or her sister happy.
She makes new business transactions with mysterious partners, and while it does seem like a dicey deal, Lucy is creating the opportunity to learn - whether it is by failing first or not is for us to watch and watch. However, her spontaneity in getting into business with new partners is oddly reminiscent of the time she lost her virginity to a stable boy - whether it's a mistake or not, she did it on her own terms.
Meanwhile, Charlotte’s story is a bit more complicated, even though with her biggest enemy Lydia Quigley (Lesley Manville) out of the picture, we would have expected it to be a little less so. We are all rooting for her and Lady Isabella (Liv Tyler) to become a power couple, but of course, there are a couple of men in the way, and yes one of them is Alfie Allen’s Isaac Pincher.
The Pincher brothers, Isaac and Hal (Ash Hunter), are two new men who want to make a name in the flesh trade and want to overturn the monopoly that bawds have in London with brute force. Now we know our girl Charlotte is not one to turn over and move on in a situation like this. That tussle is definitely one to watch out for.
The little that we got to see of ‘Harlots’ season 3 is proof that Alison Newman and Moira Buffini’s period drama only gets better with time. As of episode 3, the best thing about the new season is Manville’s acting – asides from the brilliant storytelling, that is. Her fall from the top has been brutal – as satisfying as it was to watch at times – and at each point of high and low, she has proved to be capable to express a new emotion.
‘Harlots’ continues the tradition of using art, fashion and awareness to create beautiful storylines, and we can already tell season 3 is going to be a great ride – possibly even more so than seasons 1 and 2. Don’t forget to tune in to season 3 episode 1 of ‘Harlots’ when it premieres on Hulu July 10.