If you are looking for a wild ride, look no further than DC Universe’s Harley Quinn animated series. Wow! This show is like nothing you have ever seen before from DC. In fact, I must admit that in the beginning, I was unsure of my feelings on it after the first episode laid everything out on the table in terms of violence, language and the difficult themes.
In my mind, I wasn’t sure that it would be easy to sit through an animated series with so many adult elements. Could this work? Will this be too much for an animated show? Well, the answer was yes and no, respectively. It can definitely work and it isn’t too much. In fact, it’s quite fitting for the themes and characters. Ultimately, the adult elements make for a one of a kind, truly unique viewing experience that makes you think and feel way more than a more typical animated series would.
First and foremost, this show is about becoming your own person and truly loving yourself. Harley’s journey towards accomplishing that, after so many years of being in an abusive and controlling relationship with the Joker, proves to be a long one. She doesn’t really achieve it until the last episodes of season one. That journey of ups and downs and mistakes, however, is what makes this series so thoughtful and human. People make mistakes—even badass, butt-kicking women who are physically strong on the outside. Harley’s journey reminds us that everyone has their obstacles to overcome and is learning from those struggles and mistakes.
One of Harley’s biggest stumbles in the show is falling for the Joker’s charms once again after she makes it into the Legion of Doom. Over the course of a memorable episode, the Joker lures her back in with kind words and praise (all fake obviously!), and Harley bails on plans that she had made with her best friend Ivy to instead be with her ex for the night. Of course, as always, after an encounter with Batman, Joker proves to be his old self, revealing he was yet again just using Harley for his own gains. In a dramatic scene, after realizing this, Harley doesn’t fight back, cry or show any emotion. In fact, it was the opposite—she just stares off into nothing and has no emotion whatsoever to give anymore. I felt that was another very real moment that the show addressed with remarkable insight and humanity. After being abused and tricked back into a false sense of security, only to be abused again, many people would run out of emotions to give and just become an empty shell, much like Harley.
Of course, Poison Ivy finds out that Harley bailed on her for the Joker, which is obviously a huge blow. Since the first episode, Ivy had been the one comforting Harley whenever Joker broke her heart and had helped her on her way to becoming confident and independent. Most of all, Ivy had become Harley’s best friend.
It takes a few episodes for Harley to win Ivy’s trust back, after she learns for herself that the Joker will never change and that she’s better off being her own woman, but the two friends always know that their friendship is more important than any mistake and they seemingly bury the hatchet and become partners again.
Throughout all of the madness, violence and potty-mouth language, you really are rooting for Harley. She ends up also rooting for herself, which is so great to see after so many episodes watching her self-sabotage her own growth. She even turns the tables on her ex and uses Joker’s own manipulation techniques to triumph in the end (we won’t spoil how for you—you have to see for yourself how she pulls it off!)
Thankfully, after many close calls with death and broken relationships, Harley and her gang are back in action together at the end of Harley Quinn’s first season. It also seems as if the Joker still has yet to be defeated, although Harley thinks he is, which I am sure will come as one of the big surprises in store for her in season two.
Speaking of next season, I’m hoping we’ll continue to see the same development in Harley as a character. I want to see her grow even more confident, more strong-willed and more badass. The debut season was all about the villains of the DC Universe, and while it was so amazing to see all of them together, I would definitely like to see her interact with the superheroes more. In fact, one of my favorite episodes in season one featured none other than Aquaman. It sounds weird to say it’s great seeing our favorite heroes played for laughs, but it makes for such welcome comic relief in a show that, for all its ridiculousness, can be intense at times.
I also look forward to seeing the same superstar cast of actors lend their amazing comedic talents to these characters for next season. The talent on this show really elevated season one. I don’t think they could have picked better performers for these roles.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with how much I ended up appreciating and enjoying Harley Quinn on DC Universe. I think it is a very “real world” take set within an otherwise nutty comic book universe—something that is really refreshing alongside the rest of DC’s more serious adult-skewing television. You’re not going to want to miss today’s season two premiere. I know I’ll be watching and enjoying!
Harley Quinn Season 2 premieres today on DC Universe. Not a DC Universe member? Click here to subscribe.
For more news, videos and articles about Harley's animated adventures, visit our official Harley Quinn series page.
Amanda Levine covers collectibles, cosplay and pop culture for DCComics.com.