If you’d like to trash Valentine’s Day by watching Bane fuck skyscrapers and Italian restaurants into the ground, look no further.
The premise, as ever with Harley Quinn, a raunchy and irreverent cartoon incarnation of the DCU, is simple: Harley (Kaley Cuoco) wants to give girlfriend Ivy (Lake Bell) the best Valentine’s Day ever. Through elaborate schemes and set ups, Harley creates an amazing Valentine’s experience—but after stealing Wonder Woman’s lasso via a Cameo-aided ruse, Harley discovers to her horror it wasn’t actually Ivy’s best. A lovelorn Bane (James Adomian), meanwhile, struggles to impress his new lady friend after bonding over the importance of lumbar support in the workplace. Hijinks, orgasm spells, and Lord Byron readings ensue.
It all comes to a literally explosive conclusion (literally, how many times has Gotham been destroyed? And who cares? It’s comic book rules!) at an overpriced Brett Goldstein’s (voiced by Brett Goldstein) one-man-show, where Clayface (Alan Tudyk) finds the answer to a hole in his heart that “not even Ted Lasso’s Roy Kent can fill.”
As always, the show lands on its feet with a wholesome-ish message about not holding yourself to absurd and toxic standards, prioritizing the emotional growth of its characters and their relationships with each other and themselves. Awwww.
And, as always, the show pads its limited runtime with meta-commentary, in this case, various sofa-interviews with superhero and supervillain couples (I got a good laugh out of Darkseid’s).
The title of the episode includes the word “problematic,” but I would take Harley Quinn’s brand of off-the-walls, beyond-the-pale hijinks any day over the actually very problematic crash-and-burn of HBO’s other animated venture, Velma, which incidentally also sought to make an adult cartoon from a successful property previously aimed at a younger audience. (Pro-tip: Don’t equate saying offensive shit with “elevating” the humor of your programming. Just actually be funny. On-the-nose political satire: funny. Punching down: not funny.)
One of the many things that makes this show so good is that it clearly knows where the line is and chooses very deliberately when and how to step across it. It’s an excellent example of a show that keeps its soul intact while its characters make the messiest possible choices at each and every turn, occasionally leveling cities (in this particular instance, with Bane’s enormous dick). Somehow, with everything in the last sentence still standing (ha, I know), Harley Quinn remains the spicy, weird, queer, and feminist programming that graces us with its presence every once in a while.
Everyone cross your fingers for more good animation in the future of the DCU.