I make it no secret how much I’ve been enjoying the current Harley Quinn animated original series on the DC Universe streaming service. When I first saw the pilot in the Indigo Ballroom at the Hilton Bayfront last SDCC (blissfully unaware that SDCC 2020 would be canceled a year later), I knew the creators behind the show had something special on their hands based on the tremendous reaction it garnered from the audience.
The cartoon’s simultaneously contradictory satirical yet also deep and respectful take on the characters appears to have struck a chord with viewers. This seems to be the appropriate point for the obligatory SPOILER warning for those who haven’t seen the latest episode “There’s No Place to Go But Down,” which premiered today.
As showrunners Patrick Schumacker and Justin Halpern conceded in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, they were already well aware of the extreme passion of the Harley/Ivy fanbase (or Harlivy for those who prefer the celebrity couple portmanteau) as they making the animated series. So while the duo’s relationship was primarily platonic during the first season, Schumacker and Halpern promised it would take a romantic turn during Season 2. In fact, the Harley Quinn Season 2 teaser trailer released back in March, featuring Harley and Ivy holding hands, gave greater credence to the promise.
In case you missed it the first time, SPOILER WARNING!
They say good things come to those who wait. In the latest episode, after escaping the Peña Duro North Correctional and Rehabilitation Facility (affectionately known as The Pit) Harley and Ivy lovingly embrace and share a passionate kiss, a moment demanded by Harlivy fans that has finally come to fruition.
Now before viewers (like the ones in the clip below) gripe and start complaining on the internet about this Harley/Ivy smooch, this isn’t the first time Harley has displayed romantic interest towards both men and women, and she’s even locked lips with Ivy in the past.
— Harley Quinn (@dcharleyquinn) May 1, 2020
Not only has Harley Quinn’s bisexuality been established in the comics but it was even most recently seen in the Birds of Prey film during the memorable animated opening Harley origin backstory sequence.
As for the Harley Quinn/Poison Ivy relationship, the seeds of this coupling were first planted in the classic Batman: The Animated Series episode “Harley and Ivy” written by Paul Dini. While a romantic relationship wasn’t intended, fans grasped onto the pairing based on a flirtatious undercurrent throughout the episode. We’ve seen these two smooch in the comics in various alternate universe stories like DC Comics: Bombshells that imagines the DC Universe in the retro world of the ’40s.
— DC (@DCComics) January 21, 2017
History was finally made in 2018 when Harlivy shared their first in-universe kiss in the pages of Harley Quinn #25 courtesy of writers Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti and artist Chad Hardin.
Nevertheless, there’ve been complaints over the perceived erasure of the Harley/Ivy relationship in the comics, exacerbated by the finale of the Harley Quinn and Poison miniseries from writer Jody Houser and artist Adriana Melo, which saw the duo calling it quits. Fans possibly may have expected more than what they got with Ivy’s understated goodbye kiss to Harley on the forehead during such an emotional moment. Adding fuel to the fire, ongoing Harley Quinn writer Sam Humphries revealed during a live video chat with fans that, despite his desire to include Poison Ivy in a story, the character isn’t available for use in the series at this time.
Regardless of the future of the Harley/Ivy romance in the comics, the portrayal of the relationship illustrates a positive direction for LGBTQ representation in DC Comics/Warner Bros. Animation media. Last summer, fan favorite Young Justice character Kaldur’ahm better known as Aqualad (and now Aquaman) came out as queer when he shared a kiss with his fellow Atlantean Wyynde in an episode of Young Justice: Outsiders. Although the depiction attracted the predictable protests from conservative groups, the animated series was praised for continuing to be a part of better representation in media.
Even the DC Super Hero Girls cartoon, which caters to younger viewers than the mature-audience-oriented Harley Quinn, featured an episode that introduced a lesbian couple as the mothers of Jessica Cruz/Green Lantern.
We’re approximately at the halfway point of the 2nd Season of Harley Quinn, and it’s anybody’s guess as to where the story will be going after this latest development. One thing is for sure: this is definitely going to make it awkward for Ivy and her upcoming nuptials with Kite Man.
Despite apparently strong viewership, it’s still up in the air whether or not Harley Quinn will be renewed for a third season. With social distancing policies affecting live action productions and content for the foreseeable future, the animation industry is luckily better equipped and not as restricted. Thus a Harley Quinn Season 3 would be a no-brainer, at least in my opinion.