As one of DC’s highest rated shows came to an end yesterday, I reflect back on what made it stand out and how he shows narrative changed the landscape of their streaming shows. When first starting out, DC tried to be edgy with Titans and the “Fuck Batman” line only to learn their lesson and make improvements in the next season. Since then, Swamp Thing and Doom Patrol were tonally different as DC looked to make adaptations closer to their source material. With success from Doom Patrol, DC’s venture into more adult themed cartoons led them to the Kaley Cuoco voiced, Harley Quinn show.
As a series, Harley Quinn struggled to land its jokes in the first few episodes and relied heavily on parodying comic tropes and hyper violence. After a few episodes and the addition of more cast members, the series found itself going to more emotional aspects at times, like going into Harley’s mind or making amends with her parents. These brought the show down a different path that it started out on and even saw the series rely less on the need for hyper violence. The showrunners however, went back to hyperviolent moments when Queen of Fables got released and towards the end with the Poison Ivy jailbreak and Joker fight.
All of these moments leading up to the end gave us Harley accomplishing her goals and a series that, while switching genres on multiple occasions, managed to create a entertaining story with better joke writing than the first few episodes. By the end of the finale, Harley had a team, a lair, became a member of the Legion of Doom and managed to destroy all of Gotham. Each element was well presented and gave us a unique experience on a character who seems to have found her own writing style, compared to her initial iterations. The show at times showcased aspects of Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner’s rebirth run, while others give us more of Suicide Squads version of Harley. The balance between the two styles ultimately led to a series that was fun to watch, even when the episodes would vary on context.
Due to the ending of the season, it’s hard to say if they will continue, thanks to multiple events that transpired in the final episode. As a series, it’ll be interesting to see how the showrunners handle the destruction of Gotham and death of multiple important characters. Since Harley was so successful, we could see DC try a Lobo series in the future that would bring about the same hyperviolence with a different kind of humor. Harley has successfully set the stage for DC Universe’s original animated programming and I hope to see more characters like Lobo or a series built around the supernatural elements of their universe.