‘Harlots’ Season 4 Status: Why Hulu Canceled the Show After Season 3

It’s been more than two years since we last saw a new episode of Hulu’s fierce, feminist period drama Harlots. Though the streaming service officially canceled the show in June 2020, that hasn’t stopped loyal viewers from hoping that it might somehow be revived. 

Unfortunately, Harlots Season 4 seems unlikely to happen, according to a 2020 interview with series star Angela Griffin, who played Elizabeth Harvey in season 3. She also shed some light on why Hulu decided not to move forward with more episodes. 

Harlots, which premiered in 2017, chronicled the lives of prostitutes in 18th century London. The first two seasons focused mostly on the trials and tribulations of Margaret Wells (Samantha Morton) and her two daughters, Charlotte (Jessica Brown-Findlay) and Lucy (Eloise Smyth), particularly their conflict with the ruthless and duplicitous brothel owner Lydia Quigley (Lesley Manville). 

At the end of season 2, Margaret was sent to America after nearly being hanged for a crime she didn’t commit, though she returned briefly in season 3. Season 3 also featured the unexpected — and controversial — death of Charlotte, leaving Lucy the only Wells woman left in London. Season 3 was also marked by the arrival of the Pincher brothers (Alfie Allen and Ash Hunter), who wanted to gain a foothold in London’s sex trade, as well as Lydia’s escape from Bedlam. It ended with the downfall of the murderous Marquess of Blayne (Julian Alistair Rhind-Tutt) at the hands of Lydia and Lucy. 

The season 3 finale of Harlots neatly wrapped up the show’s main storylines. Still, some fans were hoping for more. When Griffin spoke with Hello! she also thought that Harlots had more stories to tell. 

Hulu wanted ‘Harlots’ to end on a high note 

Lesley Manville and Moira Buffini onstage at the TCA 2017 press tour
Lesley Manville and ‘Harlots’ executive producer Moira Buffini at the 2017 Winter TCA Tour | Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

In the November 2020 interview, Griffin explained the logic behind Harlots’ cancellation. 

“It was cancelled by Hulu and it was one of those cancellations where they said we’ve done brilliant, the viewing figures for the third season were really great, but they wanted to leave it on a high,” she said. “Which I always understand, no one wants to leave a show on a low, but it was also equally frustrating when you’ve only just come in!”

The actor added that it looked like there was little hope of a Harlots revival. But she did say that given its popularity on the BBC, which aired the show in the U.K. in 2020, there might be a chance.   

“As far as I know, it’s done and dusted, but I do kind of feel like there should be a petition somewhere for the BBC to make it. I’m sure if the BBC decide that it had a slot, they could possibly reignite it,” she said. 

Griffin said she’d return for ‘Harlots’ Season 4 

If Harlots did get a surprise renewal, Griffin said she’d be up for reprising her role as molly house proprietor Mrs. Harvey. 

“I’d love for it to go for another season. It’s really popular and it’s a critical success as well,” she said. “It’s so diverse, it’s full of women, it’s from a female’s point of view, and all the creative team behind it is really diverse, too.”

Harlots is currently streaming on Hulu. 

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