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    Harley Quinn On HBO Max Is Undeniably The Best Version Of This Character

    Sorry Margot Robbie, but Kaley Cuoco has got you beat (with a bat).

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    There have been many versions of Harley Quinn in her nearly 30-year character history. But I'd bet my lifelong nerdom membership that the best version currently resides on her own animated series on HBO Max.

    @dcharleyquinn

    So, HBO Max is a new standalone streaming service that includes everything (and that means everything) from HBO as well as some of your favorite series and movies from WarnerMedia and brand new Max Originals all for $14.99 a month.

    I'll be completely honest, most versions of Harley Quinn after the original (which debuted on Batman: The Animated Series in 1992) have been kind of, well, problematic for me...

    Harley Quinn from the 1992 Batman: The Animated Series
    Warner Bros.

    First, there's the whole "Gathering of the Juggalos" vibe that the comics and video games have brought to the character. Then there's the much more problematic romanticization (IMO) of her abusive relationship with the Joker. Harley has taken on such a grimdark feel in the preceding two decades, one that doesn't wash off so quickly (unless dropped in a vat of acid, I suppose).

    Now don't get me wrong, the Margot Robbie (IRL) version of Harley Quinn comes really, really close to winning me back over...

    Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn
    Warner Bros.

    ...but her "wasn't a solo vehicle, then it was but it still felt really forced" movie with an equally long title was anything but "fantabulous." It was forgettable really, which is a shame because Margot Robbie deserves better for what she brings to this character. There's a lot of joy in her performance, which, I guess, is what's been lacking.

    Speaking of joy, Kaley Cuoco brings not only joy but hilarity, humanity, and a whole lot of ultra-violence and foul language to her very animated turn as Ms. Harleen Quinzel on HBO Max.

    Animated Harley Quinn holding a beer and a baseball bat
    Warner Bros.

    The best part is that you've got two whole seasons (26 episodes) to catch up on. So if you've been missing anything and everything superhero (or villain) related, this is your best bet until Wonder Woman 84 is released (maybe Oct. 2, but who knows at this point).

    Relationships are at the dark, dark heart of Harley Quinn. The series starts with HQ getting dumped by some clown (no need to say his name, let's just call him Mr. J.)...

    Lake Bell as Poison Ivy with Harley Quinn
    Warner Bros.

    But it's her budding (pun very much intended) friendship (and maybe more) with Poison Ivy (voiced by Lake Bell) that pushes Harley to strike out on her own, form a crew (family really), join the Legion of Doom (kind of), and become the biggest, baddest villain that Gotham has ever seen (uh-oh).

    As for that crew that Harley puts together, well, it's a motley one for sure, whose roster includes...

    @dcuharleyquinn / Via giphy.com

    The big-headed, small-bodied Dr. Psycho (voiced by Tony Hale) who gets kicked out of the Legion of Doom for calling Wonder Woman the one word that no woman should ever be called. Then there's King Shark (voiced by Ron Funches), their landlord Sy Borgman (voiced by Jason Alexander), and man of a thousand faces, Clayface (voiced by Alan Tudyk). Poison Ivy also has a talking plant named Frank (voiced by J.B. Smoove).

    But Harley has some competition in Gotham. The entire rogues gallery is there too; all of the Batman baddies from Two-Face and Riddler to The Penguin and Mr. Freeze. And then there's Bane...

    @dcuharleyquinn / Via giphy.com

    ...in full "Tom Hardy" voice. And now I'm going to be speaking like that for the rest of the day.

    Oh, yeah. And then there's Kite Man.

    @dcuharleyquinn / Via giphy.com

    Yup. Kite Man. Who somehow manages to become Poison Ivy's fiance. And really likes kites.

    As a special treat for all you Law & Order: SVU fans out there, Chris Meloni voices Gotham City's frantic police commissioner, Jim Gordon.

    Animated Chris Meloni as Jim Gordon yelling at Harley Quinn
    Warner Bros.

    Meloni's take on Gordon is, perhaps, the exact polar opposite of Detective Elliot Stabler. Nothing stable about old Jim here, who drastically overestimates his skills as commissioner and his relationship with Batman (basically, he asks the Dark Knight if he wants to "hang out" at one point).

    And yes, Batman's in it too!

    @dcuharleyquinn / Via giphy.com

    But not too much. Just enough. And he's played for laughs most of the time. Harley's take on his "relationship" with bats alone is one of the better running jokes in the series.

    Honestly, if you're looking for something that's brightdark (which I guess would be the other side of the grimdark coin), Harley Quinn on HBO Max is it.

    Animated Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, King Shark, Clayface, Sy Borgman, and Dr. Psycho
    @dcharleyquinn / Via Instagram: @dcharleyquinn

    Just remember, this show is for adults. It's violent (so many bombs). It's profane (so many f-bombs). It's hilarious and Kaley Cuoco is a delight.

    Sign up for HBO Max for $14.99 a month and access countless series and movies and, of course, Harley Quinn! Not sold yet? Test it out right now for free for a week (for new subscribers only).

    Really, the show is a smash. A cracking good time. A total bash. In your face even.

    @dcharleyquinn / Via giphy.com

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