While I enjoy both of the “Big Two” comic companies were I asked which of the two I like more I would say DC. I like the heroes and villains over there more. I kinda always wanted to one day review something DC related on the blog. Lo and behold an animated series came that had exactly what I needed as a reason to review it here. Question is whether it is worth going all out with a G-View or I should have stuck with a Yuri Quickie instead? You can be the judge as we take a look at Harley Quinn, or as I prefer to call it, The Harley Quinn Show.
WARNING! This show contains high levels of blood and gore, occasional PG-13 sexuality, alcoholism, swearing, intentional misogyny, minor comedic child abuse (Only in an episode or two), heroic man-children and other subject matter not suitable for “innocent” youngsters. Viewer discretion is advised.
Genres: Action, Dark Comedy, Meta, Parody
Themes: Bisexual, Superheroes, Supervillains, Yuri
Number of episodes: 26 (2 seasons, so far)
Objectionable content: High
G-Rating: 9/10 (Favoritism), 7-8/10 Overall
Plot Summary: Reaching the boiling point in her relationship with The Joker, Harley Quinn finally decides to TRY and break up with him. Doing this alone may seem impossible but with the help of her best (only) friend Poison Ivy and a few other villains “coerced” into joining her she will TRY to not only get over “Mr J” but show the biggest and meanest of Gotham City and the DC Universe that she is the greatest villain of them all.
As mentioned in the warning section the action is often quite brutal.
To best describe the show I will use the following combination: Any DC series about a group of villains (Suicide Squad or Secret Six to name some examples) X Disgaea: Hour of Darkness X Conker’s Bad Fur Day. It is a story centered around a group of villains led by Harley Quinn, is similar to Disgaea where some villains are portrayed as anti-heroes and the actual heroes have inflated egos or behave like children and its humor and violence are as crude as in Bad Fur Day (but with a modern touch befitting a Rated R DC show). On paper it sounds like Family Guy with DC characters but it works quite well for the following reasons:
1: It is consistently clever with its references and humor (provided the viewer does not mind violent adult humor). It finds a way to be entertaining for longtime DC fans, casual fans and even viewers who do not recognize the characters or references. Like Batman: The Brave and the Bold this show introduces fans to both famous and obscure characters from iconic baddies like Lex Luthor to the obscure like Maximilian Zeus (Unless readers have heard or seen The Batman series).
2: The violence has its place and purpose and is not randomly thrown in solely for shock value. The shock deaths are intentional.
3: The swearing makes sense. Again, it is a show starring criminals. Naturally they would cuss up the wazoo during conversations. Like the violence the dirty language too is balanced as the show progresses.
4: The portrayal of the characters. Several main villains like Joker and Two-Face act similar to how they would in the main DC universe whereas others like Clayface and my main man Bane are caricatures of their true selves…yet thanks to the excellent writing on the show every villain is as threatening as they have always been. Longtime DC fans familiar with a certain portrayal of Bane will know what to expect from him on the show…yet despite his voice, mannerisms and naivete he is still very much the same towering luchador who would break your body in a second if you were to ever cross him. This leads me to…
5: The vintage superhero/supervillain fight scenes. This may be a comedy first and foremost but when it is time to get serious some of the best battles I have seen in a DC show happened in this series. Be prepared for some exhilarating action beyond the routine slaughtering of goons every now and then.
6: Character development from both sides, minor and major. Besides the main duo of Harley and Ivy’s development related to family, professional and personal desires, finding their purpose and a certain something else, some heroes get development of their own such as Batman and Commissioner Gordon. They, for the most part, are caricatures (Jim could be a “What if” though) but have their own arcs too.
7: The humor. As mentioned in the warning the humor is of the dark variety and offensive but like South Park it keeps it tasteful provided the viewer has “balls/a vagina of steel”. It is not for everyone of course but I bust my gut on many an occasion.
8: The character designs, voice acting, modern “DCAU” quality animation and fitting soundtrack it all comes together to create a great presentation.
That of course leads us to…
9: Harley X Ivy. As far back as Harley Quinn’s debut appearance in Batman The Animated Series there has always been something going on between Harleen Quinzel and Pamela Isley. Be they femme fatales, partners in crime, current lovers/exes or even wives their paths have crossed across the DC Multiverse (Though as far as I know in the main DC Universe their status is “Writers are weenies”). That remains unchanged in The “Harley-verse” as I like to call it. Harley is a loose cannon who will do whatever it takes to prove herself an Goddess Tier villain oftentimes not thinking things through and repeatedly having to face the consequences. Still, she has a code of honor wherein she does not kill indiscriminately. She does not go after innocents…though does not take responsibility for accidental civilian casualties. Meanwhile Ivy is her supportive/tolerant best friend trying to help her down a less troublesome path, with little success. When not trying to help Harley stay out of trouble she is her good old bio terrorist self fighting for the plants. Like Harley she does not target innocents. As for their relationship, like in She-Ra I am not a fan of their setup, specifically the romance trope they are involved in. Both the main tropes in She-Ra and Harley Quinn are not my favorites basically. I do not mean how the two slowly develop feelings for each other but the main obstacle in their way. Longtime viewers of Western media featuring or centered around lesbian/bisexual female romance know what I am referring to. Not saying English speaking countries are the only ones guilty of this trope (have you seen Telenovelas?) but from my 2+ decades of watching lesbian media they have used it the most. Despite this, as mentioned in the above pic, patience is a virtue. Will they? Let me put it this way. Season 1 got an 8. Season 2 got a 9. What that means I leave up to readers to find out.
Overall Harley Quinn is one of the best Western animated adult comedies I have ever seen. It of course is not for everyone as the dark humor and violence are not for the faint of heart. However, for those who can handle it what awaits is a potentially special supervillain show. With its mix of mature humor, occasional hard hitting action in between the goon slaughtering, the quality writing and pretty good presentation and of course wonderful leading ladies with an interesting developing relationship. I will return to this delightfully twisted world after the end of Season 3 when it eventually premieres and finishes.
As far as I know the show is not on Netflix. Both seasons are available on the DC Universe streaming site (for US viewers only currently.) until all DC shows eventually move to HBO Max sometime next year. Season 1 is available on DVD and Amazon Prime.