Harley Quinn – Ep. 1 (First Impressions)

I originally wasn’t planning on watching Harley Quinn, let alone blog about it. For one, I honestly forgot that DC Universe is a thing. As mainstream as DC may be, its streaming service is a niche one with a very narrow range of what it can offer. And two, I’ve long been out of the loop with superheroes. As far as DC is concerned, there’s the DCAU, the original Teen Titans, and Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy and that’s more or less it for me. I won’t deny there’s been good stuff recently but I can’t keep up with this genre these days. Still, I can’t help but be curious and I haven’t been in an anime mood this week so whatever, let’s talk about Harley Quinn.

To be frank, I find this show indicative of what I haven’t liked about DC as of late: this habit of making things adult regardless of whether or not it actually works. Harley Quinn is a MA-rated animated series and it shows with the characters swearing left and right and the extras dying in gory detail. Considering that this is Harley we’re talking about, I guess this approach isn’t a bad idea but the execution leaves a lot to be desired. The constant barrage of profanity is admittedly the least of the show’s problems but it does get stale overtime. Some of the graphical violence is played up for some dark comedy but it’s more often presented straight and generally feels off putting and just plain disgusting. In general, Harley Quinn seems rated MA for the sake of it, showing little effort in justifying it.

Fortunately, the characterization depicted in the show isn’t looking half-bad. The premise of Harley (Kaley Cuoco) branching away from the Joker (Alan Tudyk) and being her own supervillain has been done before but it’s still done pretty well in this show. I like she goes back and forth from staying loyal to the Joker to being in denial that he’s just using her to finally deciding she’s better off without him. There’s some fun bits written here as well such as Harley having her original Dr. Quinzel persona provided imaginary therapy lessons to her and Harley discovering that the Joker loves Batman (Diedrich Bader) more than her (so accurate). Another highlight in this show is Poison Ivy (Lake Bell) who is, as per tradition, Harley’s best friend. Her staging an abusive relationship intervention is downright surreal, an unusually normal and grounded thing for a super-villain to do. She does eventually come up with an elaborate and convoluted scheme to make Harley realize the truth but that only makes her role as the interventionist even funnier.

When the show banks solely on this plot, it can be quite charming. I’ll admit, I’m a little curious to see Harley’s post-Joker life and see more of Ivy in full BFF mode. It’s when the show tries hard to be “adult” that it falters. The show frankly seems enjoyable in spite of the MA rating rather than because of it, ironically feeling more childish than intended. I’ll give the show the good old three episode rule but I can see myself getting annoyed enough to call it quits.

Thanks for reading!

Watch Harley Quinn on DC Universe

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