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HomeAnimationsFrom Hate Mail to Heroes: ‘Harley Quinn’s ‘Looney’ Journey to Fame

From Hate Mail to Heroes: ‘Harley Quinn’s ‘Looney’ Journey to Fame

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Writers and executive-producers Justin Halpern, Patrick Schumacker, and Dean Lorey have obtained appreciable essential acclaim for his or her grownup animated darkish comedy collection, Harley Quinn. Produced by DC Leisure, Warner Bros. Animation and Sure, Norman Productions, the present, which follows DC supervillain Harley Quinn’s journey of self-discovery after breaking off her poisonous relationship with Joker, has gained Greatest Animated Collection from each the Hollywood Critics Affiliation TV Awards and Critics’ Selection Tv Awards, and has been nominated for 4 Annie Awards.

Now on Max and renewed for a fourth season releasing this 12 months, Harley Quinn has been praised for its voice appearing and writing, which doubles down on each the wild, uncontrollable vitality of Harley and her gang of villainous buddies, in addition to the heartfelt moments of numerous relationship vulnerability, significantly between Harley (Kaley Cuoco) and her fellow villain, greatest good friend and eventual lover Poison Ivy (Lake Bell). 

“It’s like The Mary Tyler Moore Present, however as an alternative of it being Mary Tyler Moore, it’s a psycho killer who can also be enjoying that lady within the large metropolis,” says Halpern, interviewed with Schumacker previous to this 12 months’s WGA strike. “Harley can also be such a Looney Tunes character. Bruce Timm even stated she’s kind of like Bugs Bunny. So, I really feel like she exists, at the start, in animation. And, frankly, I believe she exists higher in animation. She’s so unmoored from actuality, each bodily and in the way in which that she operates.”

Schumacker describes Harley Quinn as a “office comedy” with all of Gotham’s heroes, civil servants, and town itself portrayed by way of Harley’s eyes. 

“So, Gotham Metropolis is enjoyable and vibrant and neon and never the everyday Gothic grey and darkish,” explains Schumacker. “Batman is that this moist blanket and Superman is a boy scout who advised actually corny, cringy dad jokes.”

And, after ready three years from the preliminary 2016 present pitch to see their imaginative and prescient realized, the Harley Quinn crew is thrilled that the collection is eligible for Emmy Nominations-round voting this 12 months, which runs Thursday, June 15 by way of Friday, June 26.

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However the deep love for Harley Quinn and its creators that’s been displayed during the last two years wasn’t all the time there. In actual fact, with the primary season’s launch, Schumacker says viewers have been in uproar when the long-awaited romance between Harley and Ivy was not initially delivered. 

“There have been some individuals on the market that have been actual upset as a result of they thought they weren’t going to get collectively,” explains Schumacker. “We have been undoubtedly accused of queerbaiting. And I saved attempting to be like, ‘Effectively, not spoiling something, however maintain holding out hope. I believe you are going to be actually pleased.’ However I did not need to explicitly say it.”

Halpern provides, “Within the historical past of Harley and Ivy, the queer fan base has been taken for a experience for a extremely very long time. That relationship is teased and hinted at, and it is by no means really given to them. And I believe that is actually irritating for followers of these characters. And for queer followers, particularly. So, we actually get it. I perceive feeling such as you’ve been strung alongside for 20 fucking years and are bored with it.”

In 2017, the creators have been introduced with a selection; both take the pitch for Harley to the brand new and lesser-known DC Universe streamer and make 26 episodes straight away, or pitch to Amazon and Netflix, who had expressed a whole lot of curiosity within the IP. After deciding to place their religion in DC Universe and the liberty the crew would have with no broadcast requirements and practices division policing the present, Halpern, Schumacker, and Lorey wrote their first two seasons in a vacuum, with no exterior suggestions from followers. 

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These two seasons handled Harley’s rebirth after leaving Joker, discovering a real good friend in Ivy, Ivy happening her personal private journey by way of a romance with Kite Man, and ending the second season with Ivy and Harley embracing their emotions for one another. However, sadly, the primary and second seasons could be launched almost half a 12 months aside. 

Having all that deliberate out made it actually onerous to only sit and watch the fan response on social media,” remembers Schumacker. “As a result of all that they had was Season 1 to go on, after which perhaps some trailer stuff.”

Schumacher even obtained hate mail from a viewer, expressing unmistakable disdain for the connection decisions made within the first season. 

“Somebody forwarded me some erotic fanfiction that ended up delving into the world behind the scenes of the present and I confirmed up in it,” shares Schumacker. “There’s some disparaging commentary assigned to me on this fictional world. After which, on the finish of it, my penis opens up and eats me. I believe there was perhaps some anger that folks have been experiencing, pondering that I used to be outright mendacity to them about holding out hope. Fortunately, there was no drawing.”

Stringing followers alongside was by no means the crew’s intention with Harley Quinn, however the two-season time span between Harley and Ivy’s rekindled friendship and fiery romance was intentional. In line with Halpern, it wasn’t about suspending for the sake of drama, however creating a practical timeline for what it might take to ascertain a plausible and unbreakable romance between these two ladies. 

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“Folks needed Harley and Ivy to get collectively very early, however our complete level was that these are two messy individuals,” says Halpern. “And when you put them collectively too early, both they’re pleased, which is completely unearned and never plausible in any respect, or you might have them go on their private journeys, after which, after they attempt to get collectively, it is fucking messy. We needed these characters and these relationships to all really feel earned in order that, after they did get collectively, individuals have been like, ‘I have been on a journey with them. I perceive why they’re collectively. I perceive why they’re robust.’”

He provides, “And so they’re not going to interrupt up. We have stated it in one million interviews. We’re by no means going to interrupt them up so long as we’re in control of the present. That’s why it was necessary for us to have that relationship be earned. And that meant that the primary season needed to be about Harley’s self-discovery. We did not need her to be outlined by a person or girl she’s relationship.”

After all, now that the 2 essential characters are collectively and residing fortunately ever after, the present’s creators haven’t obtained any backlash from followers. As an alternative, viewers have been singing their praises. 

“It was loopy to see the ocean change in a single day, and the a part of the fandom that simply went from being offended and accusatory about us being queer baiters to them simply celebrating the present and calling us kings,” says Schumacker. “It was palpable, that feeling of aid and celebration and it continues on. Sure relationships from our present have made their means into the principle canon. G. Willow Wilson is scripting this superb Poison Ivy solo collection now and I do know that she’s a fan of the present. The connection between Harley and Ivy in that e book, which is canon, shares comparable notes to our present.  It’s cool to now be within the zeitgeist.”

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What Schumacker and Halpern hope to convey to followers of the present, in addition to the DC Universe as a complete, is that this collection is greater than an opportunity to pacify superhero fatigue and infuse grownup humor and ugly violence right into a world of witty, entertaining villains. It’s a present that dives deep into what makes human beings fascinating, sophisticated creatures, and why even the proper relationships take work. However conveying messages like this successfully requires the creatives to strategy every subject with love and the viewers, in flip, to belief the writers and reciprocate with persistence. 

“This present is a delicate ribbing, from individuals who actually love this world,” says Schumacker. “I keep in mind strolling into the main focus group testing very nervous. There have been a few teams for individuals. One group was individuals who customary themselves or labeled themselves ‘informal’ DC followers. After which we had one other group of hardcore DC followers. We have been absolutely anticipating to get some flack from the hardcore followers. However everybody was like, ‘That is nice. Sure, they’re making enjoyable of what we love, however they’re additionally doing it with love themselves. They’re doing it as followers of the supply materials.’”

Within the upcoming fourth season, Harley and Ivy are nonetheless in a really dedicated, loving, romantic relationship, however Ivy is now going to be spearheading the Legion of Doom. And Harley, as a member of the Bat household, goes to attempt hero-ing for somewhat bit or, as teased by Schumacker, “perhaps greater than somewhat bit.”

“We’re going to discover what that does to a dedicated relationship,” says Schumacker. “There’s some actually Gonzo stuff in season 4, however I nonetheless assume you’ll be able to anticipate a really grounded relationship story between Harley and Ivy amidst all the madness.”

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The collection and its crew have discovered a symbiotic rhythm inside the present and with its fanbase, and so they definitely don’t have anything to show. However, nonetheless, as voting season approaching, the creators are sniffing out an Emmy nomination. 

“Harley has, in an excellent cool means that I am actually pleased with, opened a whole lot of doorways for Warner Bros. animation, whose legacy has been primarily youngsters’ animation. They now have an grownup animation division. That got here after Harley, and I believe the present helped pave the way in which for it. Being nominated for an Emmy would actually spotlight how we’re doing issues on Harley which might be difficult and dangerous. Actually, all that issues to me is that we get extra eyeballs on the present, as a result of individuals may take pleasure in it.”

Victoria Davis's picture

Victoria Davis is a full-time, freelance journalist and part-time Otaku with an affinity for all issues anime. She’s reported on quite a few tales from activist information to leisure. Discover extra about her work at



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