No More Mr. J
Season 1 may have shown that the writers had a lot of comedic talent, but season 2 proves their diversity. Harley Quinn already had a great start with Season 1 really coming into its own. So how did it turn out after another full season?
One of the biggest ways that Harley Quinn improved in Season 2 was the characterization of Harley herself. She’s much more fleshed out, with real goals in this season as opposed to the zany villain from season 1. Finding herself increasingly torn between what she really wants and who she really is.
As the season progresses, it becomes much less about Harley Quinn as a villain, and all about her as a character. When she starts to fall for Poison Ivy, she becomes even more confused about what she really wants out of life. And that is where Season 2 truly shines.
Before you start getting all annoyed with Harley and Ivy being bisexual, they have been since their creation. But, we never really saw that portrayed in modern media, discounting comic books of course. There was a tease to it in Birds of Prey, but that was really about it.
In season 2, this inclusion and faith to Harley Quinn as a character really makes this show stand out among the crowd.
Made even better by top notch performances by Kaley Cuoco and Lake Bell. They sell the strained and odd relationship that they aren’t really aware that they have. As they start giving into urges and exploring what it means to love, they showcase some phenomenal voice talent.
The background story is also much stronger than Season 1. There’s this impending doom between the disappearance of the Justice League, Darkseid, Dr. Psycho and lawless Gotham. It feels very No Man’s Land, if it had been written by Adam Reed.
All Drama, No Humor?
Of course, this show also prides itself on its humor, and Season 2 is a great step up in that department as well.
From the initial episode, the cast just feels a lot more in sync. They come off like friends instead of like coworkers, which goes a long way in comedic writing. Special shoutout needs to go to the voice actor who plays Jim Gordon, Christopher Meloni. Which, fun fact, Meloni was in Man of Steel and Wet Hot American Summer. So he’s done both of these roles before for differing reasons.
Gordon’s increasingly bad outlook on life paves the way for the series most meta humor to date. With incredibly quotable one liners and his depression sinking further and further, Gordon is just a riot.
Furthermore, the rest of the supporting cast gets a bigger chance to shine in this season. Diedrich Bader, who plays Batman, gets an episode dedicated to himself. An episode that also encompasses the best fourth wall breaking humor since the original Deadpool movie.
Season 2 is definitely much heavier on the meta commentary and the fourth wall breaks than season 1. In this case, it actually does work to the advantage of the show. Progressively, the show becomes less about just making you laugh, and also about a social commentary.
Truth be told, just about every episode in this season was a standout. But, if we had to pick a couple of favorites: Riddle U, Thawing Hearts, Batman’s Back Man, All the Best Inmates Have Daddy Issues, There’s No Place to Go But Down and The Runaway Bridesmaid. Yes, that’s basically half the season, because this season is rock solid from beginning to end.
In particular, There’s No Place to Go But Down showcases everyone’s talent to the dramatic fullest. This is the episode where Harley Quinn really comes into her own as a character and accepts her feelings for Ivy. It’s also the first time that Ivy realizes how Harley feels. On top of that it has some of Bane’s greatest moments, some stellar animation/art style and great music!
Sometimes a comedy show is the best way to drive home a point, and sometimes that point doesn’t need to be heavy handed.
Yes, at the end of the day, this is a satirical show about DC Comics’ greatest heroes. A bunch of wacky characters doing increasingly stupid things for the sake of making you laugh while binge watching a show. We would argue that it’s exactly those shows that tend to make the best statements.
Yes, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy are bisexual characters. Kite Man is a literal interpretation of misplaced toxic masculinity. Dr. Psycho is that toxicity incarnate. Jim Gordon is a showcase of being unable to adapt to change. There’s a running commentary throughout this whole show thus far. However, where Harley Quinn differs from other shows, it doesn’t shove it down your throat.
Characters are just characters. The writers saw no need to force feed audiences these little tidbits that you can naturally pick up on your own. They don’t need to tell you that inclusion is important or that Psycho is a jackass. Themes are best presented when you, the viewer, picks up on them without being told to.
So even if the humor isn’t your cup of tea, even if you’re more of a Marvel fan, Harley Quinn manages something that very few shows do. It treats you like an adult, and as a result, DC has created one of the best animated adult comedy shows in the last decade.