[This story contains spoilers from Harlots season one.]

When it debuted on Hulu in March 2017, Harlots was ripped from the history books, not the headlines. And yet, to recap the end of the first season in broad strokes is to tell a story that seems designed to resonate in the post-#MeToo era: After a circle of powerful men commits several rapes and murders, a group of working women attempts to unmask and hold them to account, but are impeded by a flawed justice system and a powerful woman complicit in the men's schemes.

Of course, Harlots — as its title announces — is about sex workers in London in 1763, not employees in Hollywood, Silicon Valley or other industries that have been rocked by sexual misconduct allegations in 2017 and 2018. Still, the series is set to resonate with contemporary viewers as its second premieres on Hulu today. As season two adds new characters and expands the levels of society in which its protagonists are able to mingle, Harlots telegraphs how powerless women get on with their lives — with an alternately serious and humorous tone, replete with bawdy humor, feminist themes and ravishing Georgian gowns.

"The storylines that emerge in season two are amazing and I think could not be more relevant to what’s happening now," Jessica Brown Findlay, who plays Charlotte Wells, says. "It's really showing how dangerous and scary it is for women to speak out and [how] it's always been that way."

Going into the second season, co-creators Moira Buffini and Alison Newman aimed to portray a broader swathe of London society than the first. The initial season focused primarily on two warring "boarding houses," a quaint term for "brothel": Margaret Wells' (Samantha Morton) up-and-coming house on Greek Street and Lydia Quigley's (Lesley Manville) baroque version for more elite customers. The eponymous characters of the second season make new friends (and clients) by visiting an array of party scenes by night and day.

"We really are telling the story of a whole society through these really socially mobile women. That's one of the most extraordinary things about [sex workers'] jobs, is that a girl from a very humble background can find herself highly elevated very quickly, and the other way around," Buffini says.

Introducing Harlots viewers to these new rungs of society is Liv Tyler, who joins the cast as Lady Isabella Fitzwilliam, an unmarried upper-class woman who owes boarding house owner Quigley a mysterious debt. Sheila Atim and Eric Kofi-Abrefa, meanwhile, belong to a diverse, multicultural "tavern scene" that the show also frequents in the new series.

Harlots, which already boasted Danny Sapani as Margaret Wells' partner in life and Pippa Bennett-Warner as an American freedwoman-turned-London harlot in its first season, deliberately diversified in its second. Of additions to the cast including Atim and Kofi-Abrefa, Newman says, "In costume dramas, especially British costume dramas, it is very unusual to see people of color unless they are servants. This was a world that was really lively in London in the 18th century, and so it was a world we wanted to explore."

The beginning of the new season also addresses story threads left unresolved by the first, including Charlotte Wells' decision to leave her mother Margaret's brothel for rival Quigley's, and the unsolved murders and rapes committed by the so-called "Spartans," an anonymous group of sadistic upper-class men. After a Spartan murders a local justice at the end of season one, for instance, the upstanding and conscientious Justice Hunt (Sebastian Arnesto) arrives to restore law and order.

Even when an uncorrupt judge arrives in town, however, the justice system fails to fully defend women, especially women in the sex trade, who are seen to be putting themselves in harm's way through their trade. "Really it’s a question of ‘Can a harlot ever have justice when what justice is decided by men?’" Buffini asks. "It’s still so relevant when you think about how difficult it is to prosecute a man for rape and assault."

Though the theme of justice for violence against women is indeed central to season two, Buffini and Newman note that the Harlots writers' room penned the second season before The New York Times and The New Yorker published allegations of sexual assault and misconduct against Harvey Weinstein in October 2017, which vaulted the #MeToo movement into the mainstream.

Rather, sexual-misconduct allegations began to surface at a rapid pace during production. Brown Findlay remembers her time on set during the fall and winter of 2017 being a "profound" and "emotional" experience. "I don’t always think it’s a rule that if there are women are involved that women are going to be treated better," she said of the series' nearly all-female top creative team and cast. "But in my experience of working on Harlots and working on other sets, and especially considering that the main subject of Harlots is sex workers, I’ve never felt safer, I’ve never felt more supported, and I’ve never been able to be as outspoken as I was on this."

The series now arrives on Hulu months later, at a point when #MeToo stories have slowed to a trickle. Nevertheless, the mutability of the justice system's approach to women's rights remains in American headlines after Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement on June 27.

Since, pundits have wondered whether a new SCOTUS appointment could fulfill President Trump's campaign promise of overturning the landmark 1973 decision Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion.

"Even though it’s 250 years ago in Britain and everyone's in frocks, a lot of the stories are as relevant now as they were then," Newman says. "If we’re not careful, we could so easily go back to a world where there is no welfare, where there is no care, where women are treated as lesser citizens, where women have no voice."

"I think the message of Harlots is, lest we forget what the world is like without votes for women and without rights for women, this is it," Buffini adds. "This is why we must continue to fight."