As long as the character of Harley Quinn has been around, there’s been a discussion among Batman fans about her relationship with Joker, which is incredibly abusive. It was revealed in the 1994 comic The Batman Adventures: Mad Love that Harley was a former psychiatrist that fell in love with the Clown Prince of Crime, even though he regularly insulted and demeaned her–and held very little regard for her life.
That’s an aspect of Harley’s history that was largely ignored in 2016’s Suicide Squad, which saw Margot Robbie lay the character. However, the upcoming DC Universe Harley Quinn animated series, in which Kaley Cuoco voices the character, won’t be shying away from it. Speaking at the TCA press tour, executive producer Justin Halpern explained, “That is something that we felt we needed to address in the show.”
Instead, Harley Quinn will deal with the horrible nature of the relationship as Harley removes herself from it in a bid to strike out on her own as a criminal queenpin. It’s explored in the first episode of the series, which was screened at San Diego Comic-Con, but the aftermath of the breakup will seemingly reverberate throughout future episodes of the series.
“The idea was that we’ve all been in relationships with someone we felt maybe wasn’t right for us, all the way to someone who was toxic for us,” Halpern continued. “How you extricate yourself from that is really what this show is about. How you get out of that kind of relationship and figure out, ‘What am I going to do now that I’m out of it? What do I want? I’ve been living somebody else’s life for a really long time.'”
So who will Harley lean on once Joker is out of the picture–or, rather, is kind of an enemy as she fights for control of Gotham City’s criminal underworld? It’s Poison Ivy (Lake Bell) that becomes the character’s closest ally and friend, taking a page from the comics.
It should also be noted that Harley Quinn is a very violent and vulgar animated series with blood flying as freely as the foul language. So while it likely isn’t the right animated series for kids, it’s refreshing to see this show deal with the incredibly problematic relationship between Joker and Harley, rather than simply treating it as an in-universe status quo.
Harley Quinn will premiere later this year on the DC Universe streaming service.