Harley Quinn has endured an extensive evolution as a character since her introduction in Batman: The Animated Series. In the 20 years since she first graced the small screen and captured the hearts and imaginations of 90’s kids everywhere, she has shed the jester outfit and broken free from her Stockholm infused relationship with Joker. She’s become her own character. Like a psychotic butterfly emerging from the chemical soaked cocoon with vibrant new colors and a fresh outlook on life. Margot Robbie may have launched Harley Quinn into mainstream popularity with her portrayal in the in the DCEU, but Kaley Cuoco returns the character to her animated roots and delivers the definitive version of the former psychiatrist in HBO Max’s Harley Quinn.
Harley Quinn Season 3 picks up right where the previous season left off. The main plotline that carries over and continues the narrative is the newly blossomed relationship between the titular Harley Quinn (Kaley Cuoco) and Poison Ivy (Lake Bell). Following Ivy’s split from Kite Man, she realizes her true, romantic feelings for Harley and the two begin dating. As a team, they take on Gotham with a newfound meaning and confidence. Joined by Frank the plant, Clayface the shape shifting thespian, and King Shark, season 3 explores new adventures and characters through the absurd lens that only Harley Quinn can.
Harley Quinn is a unique character. If there ever was a Batman villain worthy of their own series, it’s Harleen Quinzel. Her manic personality, eccentric mannerisms and propensities for violence make for a wildly entertaining viewing experience. And through HBO Max, the series is able to explore the most wildly inappropriate aspects of her personality with unhinged freedom. Kaley Cuoco (The Flight Attendant) is fantastic, bringing the high energy delivery necessary in the funniest series of the year.
The freedom to delve into more adult territory can be a double edged sword. A mature rating, when used properly, can open the door to explore new avenues of comedy and violence. But when forced, it can feel excessive and unnecessary. That’s the trap that the series fell into during its first couple of episodes in season one. Throwing out F-Bombs and blood as if it were desperately shouting, “This is not for kids! This is mature rated!” However, the show quickly settled into it’s mature content, and once the ball got rolling, it never slowed down. That momentum carries on all the way through season 3.
Batman has seen countless adaptations since he first appeared on the pages of Detective Comics. We’ve seen him be silly, serious and even a Lego figure. So, to take viewers back to the world of Gotham and be able to show them something that’s fresh and new, is a difficult task. That’s where Harley Quinn swings big, rearing back its comedically large mallet and landing the bullseye. Well known characters like Poison Ivy, Two Face and Joker are brought to life in ways that we haven’t seen and the series introduces lesser known characters in ways that leave a lasting impact.
HBO Max’s Harley Quinn is an unforgettable thrill ride, filled with unique characters and laugh out loud moments. It continues HBO Max’s gold streak following James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad and Peacemaker. Whether you’re a die hard Harley Quinn fan, or a first time viewer, this series has something for everybody. 9/10