In the past few years I have grown to love the character Harley Quinn primarily through the Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner comics. I was very dedicated to having Harley on my pull list, now that I live in the country the pull list is gone, but I do still read some Harley, buy Harley merch, and re-watch Harley Quinn: The Birds of Prey. When I heard about the animated Harley Quinn series I was very curious about it, but I didn’t want to commit to another streaming service. When season one come out on DVD I ordered it and convinced Krista we should watch it. Not only did we watch the first season, but within three days we watched all of season two and let me tell you it was completely worth the binging.
For those who don’t know, Harley Quinn is an adult animated series and by adult I mean there is some serious language and some intense gore and violence. Death is actually pretty common and just by the end of the first season the total body count is in the high thousands for sure. In the first episode of the first season Harley is still with The Joker, but she makes the decision to go off on her own, but she wants to do this in order to prove she can be her own villain. She wants to join the Legion of Doom and take over Gotham City. In order to do all of this she is going to need a crew and winds up with a pretty diverse cast of, honestly just going to say it, weirdos. Now the first person you might think is part of the crew would be Poison Ivy, but she is very adamant that she isn’t actually a member of the crew, just Harley’s friend.
The first actually recruit for the team is Dr. Psycho, who really only agrees to work with Harley because his image is trashed, even for a villain, after he called Wonder Woman a particular word that is really only allowed in English TV shows. The next recruit is Clayface, who happens to be working at a bar frequented by villains and their goons and he is how the final official member gets added. King Shark is brought in to help with their online presence and he is my favorite. Sy Borgman, who in one comic arc worked with Harley and is a former spy, also makes an appearance throughout the series and ultimately becomes a periodic member of the crew. They plan heists, they blackmail Gotham, but eventually things begin to change. By season two Harley is on a quest to destroy the other villains, which she insists is so she can take over Gotham, but really leads her to become sort of a hero. Her methods may differ from Batman’s, but she still gets rid of some of the evil running rampant in the city.
One of my favorite non-Harley elements in the series is the appearance of Batgirl in season two. Barbara Gordon, who yes share a name with her mother who has also briefly appeared in the series, is a student who wants to take down the Riddler. After her brief battle with his goons she feels motivated to take on the Bat symbol while Batman is mysteriously missing. She creates her own costume and this particular costume is one of my favorite version, the Batgirl of Burnside costume in particular. There have been some discussions concerning this particular run of Batgirl, but the custom and art in it is still really cool. Batgirl in the animated series also has an interesting relationship with Harley because she always thinks that Harley is a hero and not a villain.
(Image includes three rows of Funkos: top row Orphan Black and Wynonna Earp, second row Birds of Prey regular sized and minis, and third row is Harley and Ivys, plus a Sabrina with little Salem)
What I loved particularly about Harley in the comics I read and what really drew me to the series was the idea that she was in a relationship with Poison Ivy. In the comics they casually date, Ivy often does not want to commit, though in certain stories the two have had sex and even gotten married. In the animated series the relationship is definitely a slow burn. The two say they love each other, but in a platonic way initially, and then we see this slowly begin to evolve. During the second season we see them cuddle and hold hands while Ivy works to destroy some board members who have been polluting the environment, but the problem is Ivy is getting married and not to Harley. In this version Ivy winds up dating and getting engaged to Kite Man, a lesser known DC villain. During their engagement we see Harley coping with the fact that her feelings for Ivy aren’t what she thought. After escaping from a prison pit the two kiss and this kiss leads Harley to make a very poor Parademon filled decision. Then during Ivy’s bachelorette party the two have sex, more than once and we will later get to see glimpses of what happened. Ivy insists that they have to stop this and that she is going to marry Kite Man, but Harley is crushed. The final episode of the season shows us the wedding and yes spoilers, Ivy doesn’t marry Kite Man. She and Harley wind up fleeing the wedding together, which hints at a possibility of the two of them forging their own path as not really villains.
I was honestly shocked that the animated series chose to include this plot, though I did know it existed and I even read a recent graphic novel where Harley and Ivy were on a road trip to figure out something related to the green, which Ivy can communicate with. The inclusion of this in the animated series adds representation that we don’t often see on screen and gives me hope that maybe, just maybe live action Harley Quinn, portrayed by the fabulous Margot Robbie, will actually get an onscreen girlfriend. Harley is a noted bisexual character and allowing her to be seen in a relationship with Ivy and completely removed from The Joker shows a version of the character that is more an independent person and less a sidekick. I really hope that more seasons of Harley Quinn are made and that we get to see even more of Harlivy on screen. I also would love for the two of them to make it to Coney Island, which is something that happens in the comics and shows Harley as a major hero. I will say it was far easier for me to watch the show on DVD, but again I live in the country and some apps have terrible buffering problems on our internet. DC Universe lagged a lot for me, but I am sure is fine for other people and is relatively inexpensive. Plus you get to see Harley and Ivy doing some epic comic book style fighting and kissing, which is always a plus.