Prepare to be perforated: DC Universe’s ‘Harley Quinn’ cartoon
Even with the slate of DC shows unveiled for HBO Max and what’s currently airing on The CW, there are still plenty of shows left in the DC Universe. On Friday, Nov. 29, the streaming platform unveiled their first animated series, Harley Quinn. Don’t go showing it to your kid though. Harley Quinn is created for and aimed at adults.
Based on the popular DC character, the animated Harley Quinn series follows the lovely Harley Quinn (Kaley Cuoco) as she breaks up with the Joker (Alan Tudyk) and aims to become the Queenpin of Gotham. With the help of her BFF Ivy (Lake Bell) and a motley crew of D-list supervillains, Harley shows the world just what she’s got.
If you’re debating whether or not to justify the expense of yet another streaming service, here’s everything we know about Harley Quinn.
Critics love Harley Quinn! (Yes, seriously)
DC Films may usually be a flop with critics, but that’s the opposite with their TV offerings. For some reason, DC knows how to make a great television show. Harley Quinn is no exception. Harley Quinn currently holds a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes with critics praising the show’s voice cast, the sharp writing, and a Harley that takes agency of her own story.
“When you get past the bloody bashing and the heists, Harley Quinn follows a woman who, much like Mary Richards, is determined to thrive on her own merits and engage the world as her own person.
“By slightly modifying her drive—namely, making the Legion Of Doom the center of her universe instead of her trash-ass boyfriend—the show gives fans a front row seat to all of Harley’s obsessive, high-risk tendencies in a story that is unequivocally about her, not who she’s dating.
“Add pitch-perfect comedic timing, a solid cast of comedy’s hardest hitters, and inimitable chemistry presented in the form of one of the most satisfying female friendships in a long while, and you have one of the best shows of the year, easily.”
—Shannon Miller, A.V. Club
“With an incredibly-talented voice cast, gorgeous art design, and an affection for just how weird the world of DC Comics is, Harley Quinn is the feminist animated series we desperately need right now.”
—Jenna Anderson, Comicbook.com
“This is a full throttle, turn it up to 11, no-holds-barred version of the character and it honestly feels exciting – not only because it’s so crass, rude, and ridiculous, but also because it’s fun.”
—Rosie Knight, Den of Geek
Harley Quinn boasts an all-star voice cast
From fan-fave voice actors to talent with some solid power behind them, Harley Quinn has an impressive cast to lend life to these DC characters. Kaley Cuoco plays the title character. The actress, best known for her role on The Big Bang Theory, does seem like an odd fit for Harley Quinn.
Cuoco wanted to make sure that she did Harley justice. Talking with TVLine, Cuoco said that she went back to the booth several times to make sure she did Harley justice.
“I’ve perfected certain looks and facial expressions over the years, so this in a way was harder — also because I’m voicing someone as iconic as Harley. And also, my voice is very recognizable, so I didn’t want to force an accent or try to be someone I’m not. I’m ‘Kaley as Harley,’ and accepting that early on enabled me to me free and very authentic.”
In addition to Cuoco, who apparently kills it as Harley, we also have the talents of Tudyk, Bell, Tony Hale, Christopher Meloni, Jason Alexander, Wanda Sykes, Jacob Tremblay, Phil LaMarr, Rahul Kohil, and Tom Kenny. If you’re thinking that a new actor is taking over the role as Batman, then you’ll be pleased to know that former Batman voice actor Diedrich Bader reprises his role on Harley Quinn.
(If you curious to see Bader’s previous Batman work, check out the more family-friendly Batman: The Brave and the Bold.)
Harley Quinn is very much Harley’s story
A lot of DC fans will admit that the relationship between the Joker and Harley can be seen as abusive. Harley’s self-determination here forms her renaissance. Between Harley Quinn and 2020’s Birds of Prey, audiences are about to inundated with Harley living her best life.
Harley’s motivation in the story is to a) show up her ex and b) join the Legion of Doom. If the name sounds familiar, that’s because it’s DC’s answer to an evil Justice League. The Legion has been used in such series as Superfriends, Justice League Unlimited, and Legends of Tomorrow.
Don’t think this is all doom and gloom, though. As our heroine (kind of) and narrator, Harley shares her point of view regarding Gotham.
According to series creator Patrick Schumacker in an interview with the Rolling Stone:
“So the representation of Gotham City was never going to be doom and gloom and gothic and grayscale and all of that. It was going to be colorful and bright and a playground, because that’s what Harley would view it as. There was a Grant Morrison quote about why does Gotham City have to be so dour? We read that, and said, ’Yeah, he’s onto something.’”
Harley’s point of view shows us our favorite DC characters in a brand new light. Clayface is an insufferable failed actor, Superman tells Dad jokes, and Commissioner Gordon has a drinking problem. The last bit was actually a point of contention between the Harley Quinn team and DC Comics.
Schumacker recalled, “It got to the point where were were just begging them, ‘Please, let us try it, and if you hate it, we won’t do it.’ There was enough of a consensus that it did weirdly work for them.”
If we had to live in Gotham IRL, we’d probably want to drink too.
Harley Quinn is a series that knows how to have a bloody good time, emphasis on the bloody. In the era of increasingly dark superhero media, is it so bad to want to have fun once in a while? Legends of Tomorrow succeeds so well because it’s weird, wonderful, and downright hilarious.
With Harley Quinn, we get even more odd hilarity. Kite-Man, for example: who even does that? Hopefully, thanks to Harley Quinn and Legends, we get even more entertaining superhero content going forward. We look forward to laughing together at all the ridiculousness again.