The Pitch: In comparison to the tightly structured and interconnected monolith that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the world of DC Comics characters on screen is a complicated and chaotic place, with the films and the TV shows operating within their own separate continuities (except when they don’t). Perhaps that’s why the narratives which have thrived creatively over the years have been the ones centered around its most chaotic characters, from Birds of Prey to DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, and amongst all of them, Harley Quinn might be DC’s greatest on-screen achievement.
The animated series, first launched in 2019 as one of the flagship shows of DC Universe, was instantly special from the beginning, delivering a riotously funny, irreverent, silly, violent, and surprisingly heartfelt take on its titular protagonist, originally introduced in Batman: The Animated Series as a sidekick to the Joker. And when the WarnerMedia team finally figured out that maybe a new hyper-niche streaming platform wasn’t the best place to put instantly special original streaming series, the series was not only made available on HBO Max, but a new season was greenlit. And please, let this be just the beginning.
Let the Eat. Bang! Kill Tour Begin! Harley Quinn Season 3 brings it just as hard as the past two seasons, with a renewed passion for exploring all the weirdest nooks and crannies of its characters. Season 2 of Harley Quinn, if it’s been a while, ended with Harley (Kaley Cuoco) saving Poison Ivy (Lake Bell) from her own wedding to Kite Man (Kite Man), the two of them finally embracing their love for each other and literally driving off into the sunset.
Of course, saying you’re in love is easy. Being in love — while also trying to honor your own passions and responsibilities — is tough. And that’s essentially the theme of Season 3, as Harley tries to support Ivy’s exploration of her supervillain ambitions, even as Harley herself starts questioning her own identity. This has been a fundamental part of the series from the beginning, as the Harley we first met in Season 1 was struggling to define herself outside of her relationship with the Joker, and the sensitivity and nuance which the writers bring to her journey is a huge factor in the show’s success.
Which is to say that even if the show didn’t include some of today’s most hilarious and inspired meta-commentary on pop culture, not to mention some gloriously dumb and silly gags, it would still be compelling. The fact that we get the meta-commentary, the silly gags, and the compelling emotional narratives is pure chef’s kiss.
Harley and Ivy Take Over the Fucking World: Perhaps one of the best bits of subtle advertising Harley Quinn got was when executive producer Justin Halpern told Variety that the third season was meant to feature “a moment where Batman was going down on Catwoman. And DC was like, ‘You can’t do that. You absolutely cannot do that.'”
Beyond the DJ Khaled jokes, this reveal pointed to something you might not have realized about Harley Quinn — it could go further than it does. Which makes every incredibly niche poke at the DCEU they do get away with feel all the more delicious. See, for instance, a running bit about adding a CGI mustache to a character which has its clear inspiration point in the kerfuffle surrounding Justice League’s facial follicle issues, or literally a dozen other not-so-subtle digs at the broader cinematic universe.