Review: Genius and Harlots

Living in The Golden Age of Television is a real challenge sometimes. There are simply too many good TV shows out right now. I’ve got a list of shows I want to watch and there are only so many hours in a day.

That’s why I’m combining two show reviews into one post. These shows are unrelated in almost every way. They just happened to air and finish up around the same time.

One of the shows on my To Watch list for a while is National Geographic’s first attempt at a scripted drama, Genius. Season 1 tells the story of Albert Einstein. We meet young Einstein as a student who isn’t terribly good at traditional education. Audiences are treated to some inside details of Einstein’s inspiration, his challenges as a struggling physicist and his ups and downs (well, mostly downs) as a husband and father. For those of us who don’t have a clue when it comes to physics, Genius makes it easy and interesting to understand what it was that Einstein was trying to solve.

I’ll be honest: I don’t know enough about Einstein to know how accurate it was, but every detail I found suspicious, I looked up and every single time, it was true.

The series first caught my attention when a photo of Australian actor Geoffrey Rush was revealed, Rush in full Einstein mode. In my opinion, Rush can play anyone in anything and Genius is no exception. Weirdly enough, it’s not Rush that grabbed my attention or impressed me the most. Johnny Flynn (young Einstein) and Samantha Colley (the younger version of his first wife, Mileva Marić) give excellent performances as the brilliant couple fall in and out of love.

Marić’s story is incredibly tragic. I feel like if she hadn’t met Albert Einstein and started a family with him, history would have one more woman in STEM to look up to as a role model. But that’s not how things turned out.

Season 2 features artist Pablo Picasso. I will definitely be tuning in.


During the Georgian period, a book was published and circulated throughout London. The book, Harris’s List of Covent Garden Ladies, lists and describes various prostitutes by name and their specialties. Harlots, Hulu’s fun new costume drama, was inspired by this book.

Created and written by women, Harlots is a colorful look at two very different sides of London society: the dregs of Covent Garden with prostitutes meeting clients in back alleys and the upperclass escorts posing in portmanteaus by day and servicing nobles by night.

love this show. But then I’m a sucker for old timey girl power, especially when it involves some of the most delicious costumes I’ve seen on television. Combine that with crunchy guitar riffs, a cast of strong actresses and you’ve got my full attention.

The story of Harlots focuses on four main characters but so many others have their own storylines and plot twists. The main story revolves around Margaret Wells (played gloriously by Samantha Morton and her bountiful bosom), a former prostitute and now the owner of a brothel in Covent Garden. She and her girls move to a nicer house in a nicer part of London. Her older daughter, Charlotte, is a kept woman and the official mistress of a foppish noble while Lucy, her younger daughter, has her virginity auctioned off to the highest bidder.

It took me a few episodes to realize why Charlotte seemed so familiar. Beneath her powdered wig and painted lips, Charlotte is the delightful Jessica Brown Findlay, aka Sybil from the early seasons of Downton Abbey. JBF is definitely one of the charming highlights of this very busy, very flashy series. Without going into too much detail, I’ll just say this: Charlotte goes through some shit and deals with it all like a friggin’ champ. Both she and Lucy have some interesting character developments throughout the series.

More people need to tune into this sexy, corseted gem so Hulu will give it another season. Or else I’ll die.

Written by

Jillianne Hamilton is a history enthusiast, author, graphic designer, paper crafter and artist living on Canada's beautiful east coast.

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