Love is In the Air
Harley Quinn: "A Very Problematic Valentine's Day Special"
Love is in the air, as they say, seeing as how it's Valentine's Day. That makes it the perfect time to review a seasonally appropriate holiday special and, thankfully, HBOThe oldest and longer-running cable subscription service, HBO provides entertainment in the force of licensed movies along with a huge slate of original programming, giving it the luster of the premiere cable service. has just the thing for us. Adding an eleventh episode to the third season of Harley Quinn, we get "A Very Problematic Valentine's Day Special", and, yes, it's properly raunchy and problematic.
The fun thing about Harley Quinn, as a series, is that it's already embraced the fact that it doesn't need to be a "proper, family friendly" superhero show. it started off violent and gory and has only added on the profane and raunch as time has gone on. This is a cartoon that no sane adult should let their children around, but at the core of it is a loving couple doing the best they can as the explore what it means to be both villains and in love. It makes for great, incredibly wrong, television, as this special only proves.
On this, their first Valentine's together as a couple, Harley QuinnCreated to serve as "Joker's Girlfriend" as well as his primary minion for Batman: The Animated Series, Harley Quinn quickly grew to be one of the most popular characters of that show, eventually finding a solid life beyond the cartoon in comics, movies, and media. wants to go all out and do something truly special for her love, Poison Ivy. She has to make it the very best Valentine's Day that Pam has ever had before. The only trick is that all Icy wants to do is stay home and watch a documentary on jazz musicians. After some cajoling, and a promise that Harley will keep the night low-key, Icy agrees, and the two hit the town. Their first stop: Mama Macaroni's, Ivy's favorite restaurant. But then criminals attack, stealing the restaurant's new, incredible recipe. Harle and Ivy give chase, and it all crescendos in a big, romantic gesture from Harley. Yes, the whole night was planned, and it was over-the-top, but Ivy loved it.
Only problem: it wasn't Ivy's best Valentine's Day ever, and Harley can suspect that. So she has to top herself, to find some way to make it the best. She goes to Etrigan's Magic Emporium and buys a spell that will let he give Ivy the greatest orgasm ever. And she does. But in the process, Ivy unleashes a big blast of pheromones that spread across the city, causing everyone to need to fuck each other (consensually) as hard as they can. This coincides with Bane wanting to impress a woman he just met, but his package is, well, normal sized and he's a very big dude. He gets a spells from Etrigan, but it has unforeseen side effects, causing him to grow into a giant Bane-kaiju who, thanks to Ivy's pollen, now absolutely has to fuck. It's a big disaster, and Harley has to fight to somehow turn it back into the best Valentine's ever.
first, you have to absolutely appreciate the idea that the big problem this time around is a giant, naked Bane that need to get down. He goes around, fucking buildings until they fall over, Rampage-style, and it's all so ridiculous. All of this caused because Harley gave Ivy the best orgasm ever, and it's just one silly thing on top of another as the show tries to probe every wrong idea it can around the idea of "doing something special for the one you love."
This isn't the only problematic storyline either. There's also the C-plot of Clayface trying to find love on V-Day. He ends up betrayed by a man he met Online, only to wind up split in two (literally) and, well, he falls in love with his own bottom half. The two share a love they cannot consummate, though, for if they were to touch one half would reabsorb the other. So it's very chaste, and also very incestuous. "I have met my true soul mate," he says, with proper Clayface intonation, and you're left feeling dirty and wrong.
Oh yes, and the little asides for all the superhero (and super-villain) couples is really cute. We get a nice nod towards the kind of interstitial segments from When Harry Met Sally, just with DC ComicsOne of the two biggest comic publishing companies in the world (and, depending on what big events are going on, the number one company), DC Comics is the home of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and just about every big superhero introduced in the 1930s and 1940s. characters, and some of the stories really are fun. We get a new take on how Clark met Lois, how Karter Hal met Shayera, how Darkseid found some crazy, evil woman, and much more. And these are just the asides that get pointed out. There are moments for Riddler and Clock King, Flash and Zatanna, and so many other couples that it's hard to pick them all out. The episode is stuffed with gags, but they're sweet and fun.
As far as the main story goes, though, what's important here is that it only works to build the relationship between Harley and Ivy. For Harley's side, she always used to go all out for JokerOne of Batman's first villains, and certainly his more famous (and most popular), the Joker is the mirror of the Bat, all the insanity and darkness unleashed that the hero keeps bottled up and controlled. but, as Ivy wisely points out, she's not the Joker. Harley falls into her old patterns, time and again, and it takes time and patience to get her to realize she can do things differently. Harley still has plenty of room to grow but, thankfully, Ivy has patience to help her girlfriend work through it all.
Meanwhile, yes, this isn't Ivy's best Valentine's ever (even before the big, naked kaiju), but that's that's because the real answer is sweet and soft and such a turn for her (and her special someone) that it actually helps to build their relationship even more. I won't spoil it here but, suffice it to say, the pay off on this question, "what is Ivy's best Valentine's Day ever," really is worth it.
What it think is most impressive is that, despite Harley's weird tendencies and Ivy's villainous side, the show never presents them as toxic. Yes, they have their foibles, and Harley is prone to shoot first and ask sometime much, much later, but the two of them don't feed off of each other's worst sides. They aren't bitter towards each other, there's love between the characters and the show gets that. They work to elevate each other, not break themselves down, and that's refreshing and great. It takes communication, and the show is solid at illustrating that.
As I've noted with this series in the past, it knows how to take its central characters and treat them fairly. Most importantly, it uses the central relationship, "Harlivy", as a way to enhance the series and not just create drama. That's a rare treat in television and it helps to keep Harley Quinn as a must watch series time and again.