HARLEY QUINN | TV REVIEW

RELEASED: November 29th 2019 – February 21st 2020
DISTRIBUTED BY: Warner Bros.
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Dean Lorey, Justin Halpern, Patrick Schumacker, Kaley Cuoco & Sam Register
WRITTEN BY: Dean Lorey, Justin Halern, Patrick Schumacker, Jane Becker, Jess Dweck, Adam Stein, Tom Hyndman, Laura Moran & Jordan Weiss
DIRECTED BY: Juan Meza-Leon, Matt Garofalo, Ben Jones, Frank Marino, Cecilia Aranovich Hamilton, Colin Heck, Vinton Heuck & Brandon McKinney
MUSIC BY: Jefferson Friedman
STARRING: Kaley Cuoco, Lake Bell, Ron Funches, Tony Hale, Jason Alexander, J. B. Smoove, Alan Tudyk, James Adomian, Diedrich Bader, Giancarlo Esposito, Andy Daly, Wayne Knight, Rahul Kohli, Phil LaMarr, Vanessa Marshall, Christopher Meloni, Matt Oberg, Jim Rash, Will Sasso, Wanda Sykes, Jacob Tremblay, James Wolk & Chris Diamantopoulos

REVIEW: Over the past couple of decades, Harley Quinn has become one of the most popular and prominent characters in the DC Universe. Now, she’s returned to her roots in animation, bringing all the brutality, wit and character development she’s accumulated over the years with her.

Harley Quinn sees Harley break up with her longtime boyfriend, the Joker. Now a single woman, Harley Quinn sets out to prove she’s every bit as capable as her former beau as she sets her sights on joining the A-List super-villains in the Legion of Doom. With her best friend Poison Ivy at her side, and a new posse consisting of Clayface, Doctor Psycho, King Shark and their curmudgeonly landlord Sy Borgman, Harley takes on the best and worst of the DC Universe in a series of misadventures.

The greatest strengths of this show is the voice-acting and the unique takes on the characters. While Harley Quinn remains generally consistent with the character she’s become over the past few years, her allies and enemies often have unique quirks and twists. Instead of a monstrous bruiser, King Shark is a tech-savvy goofball. Clayface is a over-the-top thespian. Bane is that guy that no one really likes but he’s just trying to get by.

The series frames these characters as colourful entities just doing their day to day. They’re super-villains, yes, but when they’re not embroiled in committing crimes, they’re attending parties, doing paperwork, meeting friends, going out. It’s ridiculous, and in a more serious world, Batman and the police would show up straight away if Harley and the Joker were just hanging around in a bar, but in this universe, the villains seem to get a free pass when they’re not doing anything overtly wrong, which makes for a lot of humorous situations that you wouldn’t see in other adaptations.

It allows you to see a new side of these characters, and paired with that aforementioned excellent voice acting, it really makes Harley Quinn stand out. Kaley Cuoco and Lake Bell are the perfect leading ladies, while the supporting cast, like Alan Tudyk (who plays both the Joker and Clayface, among others) and Wanda Sykes really help elevate things to another level.

The jokes obviously don’t always land, and some episodes aren’t quite as strong and focused as others. But is there a comedy show where 100% of the quips are absolute winners? For the most part, the pop culture references, word play and wit is dead on, especially for fans of DC who are open to seeing new takes on their favourite heroes and villains.

It makes otherwise mundane characters, like Kite Man, truly lovable, and manages to strike a balance of humorous and bad-ass better than some other comedies and parodies. A perfect example of this, for me, comes in the show’s presentation of Aquaman. I’ve grown to like Aquaman as a character quite a lot, but I’m not above enjoying jokes at his expense. However, the reason Harley Quinn succeeds where others may not is because while it doesn’t stray away from an easy target, it also does it’s best to supplement it by making the characters seem cool and efficient as well as ridiculous (mostly, anyway – Bane is generally just a goof throughout), as evidenced in said Aquaman episode:

Alongside all the comedy, the show isn’t afraid to get violent. Hurling in blood and guts from the get go. It’s a humorous show, but it is still about super-villains after all.

The animation is colourful and slick, and the different songs seem to perfectly capture the essence of the characters they accomplish.

Overall, it’s a great take on DC, with some of my personal favourite takes on certain DC characters. With a great array of voice stars and a collection of witty writers and animators, I’m excited to see what season two brings.

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