Geek Girls Rule! #624 – Review: Harley Quinn on DC Universe

First off, Merry Christmas! Happy Hannukah! Blessed Yule and Solstice! Happy Kwanzaa!  Grand Festivus! Whatever you may celebrate this time of year.

Ok, so the Martian subscribed to DC Universe solely for the new Harley Quinn animated series.

It’s pretty worth it.

This is a cartoon for adults, so much for adults.  There’s an F-bomb in the first 2 minutes of the first episode.  And given that Harley Quinn was initially invented for one of the kid friendly DC animated shows in the 90s, the Geek Husband What Rules and I were stunned and actually went back and replayed it to make sure we had actually heard it.

There is a LOT of cartoon violence, some of it pretty spectacularly gory.

The voice acting is amazing!

The animation style is cute and just really fun.

There are some problematic elements.

Basically, Harley gets fed up with the Joker’s bullshit and dumps him.

It opens with Harley trying to pull off a heist on her own, more or less and a bunch of old, rich, white dudes laugh at her.  The Joker is there, arguably as back up, but he keeps interrupting her heist by trying to take it over.  Batman shows up and Joker sacrifices Harley, leading to her being stuffed into Arkham.  The Joker swears he will break her out that night, but a year later she is still in Arkham.  Poison Ivy befriends her in Arkham, and tries to talk her out of her fixation on the Joker, as does every other criminal in there with them.

The show has a lot of very trenchant points to make about misogyny and “good ol’ boy” networks.    There are a lot of little touches, like when a character in the second or third episode where Dr. Psycho drops the C-word while fighting  Wonder Woman.  Later on, he does it a second time on camera, and a news crawler reads, “Man does terrible thing again, will probably get third chance.”

Also, the world reaction to the C-word is pretty fucking magical.

They talk about sexual harassment, glass ceilings, the unfair strictures and harsher punishments for women who commit the same crimes as men. They are really blatant about the queer undertones of the Batman/Joker antagonism. And also class and economic disparities.

The voice-acting roster for this is amazing.  Kaley Cuoco does a fantastic job as Harley.  Lake Bell as Ivy is phenomenal!!! Dietrich Bader reprises his Batman: Brave and the Bold role as Batman.  Wayne Knight, who was Newman on Seinfeld, voices the Penguin.  Alan Tudyk voices Joker.  I think he does a great job, I mean no one can touch Mark Hamill’s Joker, but Tudyk does a pretty great job.

Also, I NEED Bane’s coffee mug.

There are some problematic elements, as I mentioned above.  One of the episodes focuses on Penguin’s nephew’s bar mitzvah, and given the current cultural climate during the Trump presidency, maybe making a villain Jewish and highlighting that his family knows and is cool with it, wasn’t the best of ideas, guys.

That said, Harley and Ivy interacting with Mrs. Cobblepot is brilliant.

The Harley/Ivy friendship is the big selling point for me.  Now, if they decide that they are going to go the way of the comics and make them actual girlfriends, I will cheer so hard.

Overall I like the show.  The violence is over the top comedic, the voice-acting is incredible.  The animation is great.

Ron Funches as King Shark is the best thing I have seen in ages.  I adore him.

So, yeah, it’s great and fun.  Be aware that there are problematic issues so that you aren’t blind-sided by it.  I don’t think the show writers meant the bar mitzvah episode to come off as anti-semitic, but that just means they’re soaking in our toxic culture and need to be more careful.

But the social commentary regarding misogyny and the way women are treated is particularly pointed.

Highly recommend with caveats.

If you like what you read here, or want to help fund my growing collection of streaming services, please consider donating using the link at the top right of the page:  Keep Us Geeking, or checking out my Patreon.  Thank you!

Also, if you’d like to see what sort of fiction I write when left to my own devices, please feel free to check out my fiction Patreon, Nothing Nice Comes Out of My Head.

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