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Season 3 of ‘Harley Quinn’ Delivers Romance, Hilarity, and Harlivy

Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy in 'Harley Quinn' Season 3.

TV series often stumble when a long-shipped couple finally gets together. After all the pining, the missed connections, the stolen kisses, seeing your OTPs finally commit to one another is deeply satisfying. But what happens next, after the “will-they-won’t-they” tension has dissipated and the duo are just…in a relationship? Even the most beloved TV couples struggle to find a way to be compelling once they’ve united. And it’s a question I had for season 3 of HBO Max’s raunchy and irreverent animated series Harley Quinn, which ended season 2 with Poison Ivy (Lake Bell) leaving Kite Man (Matt Oberg) at the altar to speed off into the sunset with Harley (Kaley Cuoco) by her side.

Of course, I shouldn’t have been worried. Harley Quinn is nothing if not entertaining, with its raunchy humor and its irreverent take on the Batman-verse. And unlike many TV couples who find themselves in stasis after getting together, the show smartly uses Harley and Ivy’s new relationship to delve into the characters with surprisingly moving results. Season 3 picks up as Harley and Ivy are enjoying their “Eat, Bang, Kill” world tour, before they return to Gotham to bust Clayface (Alan Tudyk) and King Shark (Ron Funches) out of jail. Ivy unveils her plan to terraform Gotham into a plant paradise, and Harley goes full-tilt supportive, to an almost suffocating degree.

Season three does a great job of highlighting the emotional baggage that both women bring to the relationship. Harley’s chaotic energy, plus her abusive relationship with Joker have left her clingy and co-dependent. And Ivy has her own issues as well, as she struggles with honesty and carving out alone time for herself. It’s a classic extrovert-introvert romance that is played authentically against the over-thet-top backdrop of villain awards shows, secret orgies, and the non-stop chaos that is Gotham City.

But the series is, as always, more than these two stumbling towards a healthy and functioning relationship. The supporting cast of Harley Quinn continue to be a delight, from hot mess Jim Gordon (Christopher Meloni) running for mayor to the new addition of Nightwing (Harvey Guillén) who returns to out-brood Batman (Diedrich Bader). So much of Harley Quinn‘s humor comes from the writers deep knowledge of Batman lore, as they gleefully lampoon the often self-serious and humorless world of Batman. The series also takes advantage of DC’s impossibly deep bench of villains, with fan-favorites like James Adomian’s Bane, who is on a mission to reclaim his wedding gift from Ivy and Kite Man’s canceled nuptials.

There’s plenty of madcap humor in the series, as well as DC in-jokes and mile-a-minute gags. But thanks to the Harlivy relationship, season 3 sees a surprising but not unwelcome leveling up in emotional authenticity and character growth. It’s a sign of maturity for one of the raunchiest, bloodiest animated shows on televison.

Harley Quinn Season 3 premieres with its first three episodes July 28 on HBO Max,

(featured image: HBO Max)

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Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. She currently lives in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, son, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.