Harley Quinn Review: This DC Universe Cartoon Is Vulgar, But Has A Heart Of Gold

  • First Released Nov 29, 2019
  • television

Harley Quinn premieres November 29 on DC Universe.

After being introduced in Batman: The Animated Series, Harley Quinn has become one of the most beloved characters throughout comics. She's had a countless number of her own comic stories and made appearances in movies, video games, and more. Now, with the launch of the Harley Quinn animated series on DC Universe, the former Dr. Harleen Quinzel is ready to make her mark on the world of streaming.

Harley Quinn launches on DC Universe on November 29, and you need to know that it's an incredibly vulgar and dirty show, filled with foul language, plenty of sexual innuendos, and bloody violence. Oddly enough, though, that's part of the show's charm.

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Now Playing: Harley Quinn - Official First Look Teaser Trailer | NYCC 2018

With The Big Bang Theory's Kaley Cuoco voicing Harley, viewers will be introduced to a new take on the familiar DC Universe, one loaded with crude humor, very little censoring, and--above all--a positive message about life after abuse. The first episode of Harley Quinn shows the woman best known as the Joker's henchwoman breaking ties with her horrific supervillain of a boyfriend. She finally decides she's had enough of playing second fiddle to an abusive monster and wants to strike out on her own--to be better than him.

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That's the true story of Harley Quinn. Not only does she want to leave her past behind, but she also wants to rise above it and prove to herself than she's more powerful than anyone who might try to hold her down by becoming Gotham's criminal queenpin. And, given the tone of this show, she also wants the world to know she's pretty sure Batman has sex with bats.

It's an interesting line Harley Quinn walks, alternating between exploring Harley's independence and rapidly throwing out dirty jokes left and right. It's one that, for the most part, the series accomplishes, though. Yes, there are some instances where there's so much cursing that you essentially become desensitized to it, which takes away its power. By and large, though, there are enough different types of personalities to keep things fresh.

Along Harley's journey, you'll meet new versions of several DC heroes and villains--from Superman to King Shark--all of whom are the butt of the joke at one point or another. The most important of the supporting characters, though, is Poison Ivy (Lake Bell).

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In the series, Ivy not only serves as the voice of reason in any given scene, she's also Harley's best friend and protector. Practically nothing matters more to her than the safety of Harley and she'll do anything to keep her out of harm's way as she attempts to become Gotham's top crook.

As with most of the show, Ivy's voice is perfectly cast. Bell deadpans her way through Ivy's dialogue, with the character often sounding like MTV's Daria (remember Daria?). This more serious take on the character is a stark contrast to how Ivy is often portrayed in comics and on-screen, where she's an overly-sensual character.

This Ivy matches perfectly with Cuoco's Harley, who leads the charge. Harley is excited to tackle the world after getting out from under the Joker's thumb and has big plans to rule over Gotham. However, there are also some genuinely vulnerable moments with the character as she comes to terms with her horrible past. Cuoco manages to play both sides of the role perfectly, creating a version of Harley Quinn that is a supervillain you can't help but root for in this cartoonish world.

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The rest of the series is filled with fantastic voice casting; whether it's Ron Funches as King Shark, Giancarlo Esposito as Lex Luthor, Jacob Tremblay as Damian Wayne, or Wanda Sykes as Queen of Fables, everyone is working hard to bring their own hilarious versions of these characters to life. Whoever did the casting on this show deserves an award for delivering something truly remarkable. You should especially keep an eye out for Christopher Meloni's Commissioner Gordon, JB Smoove as Frank the Plant--one of Ivy's creations--and Matt Oberg as Kite-Man, the less-than-memorable Batman villain who is somehow one of the most entertaining characters on the show.

Harley Quinn is a great animated series and unlike anything else you'll find on DC Universe--or in the superhero genre. It's not afraid to be dirty and has an inspiring story at its heart. Sometimes the show can get lost in its vulgarity--and that vulgarity can be so constant that it loses its impact--but this is a quality show that needs to be watched. By adults, though. Don't accidentally show this to your kids or you are going to have a lot of explaining to do.

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The Good

  • The voice cast is perfect
  • Poison Ivy as Harley's voice of reason is fantastic
  • The story of Harley Quinn rising above her abusive past is inspiring
  • The dirty jokes and violence can be very entertaining

The Bad

  • There are moments when the show's crude humor overshadows any storytelling
  • Some episodes feature such vulgar scenes that the impact of the languages is lessened

About the Author

Chris E. Hayner is a GameSpot Entertainment Editor and loves most movies, but especially Jaws and Paddington 2.