Before we even begin delving into the most recent episode of Harley Quinn, I need to go ahead and put a big ol’ spoiler warning on here. If you’re not caught up, please go watch before reading. All set? Good! The most recent episode of Harley Quinn is one I’ve been waiting for since I was 12. Titled “There’s No Place To Go But Down”, Episode 7 of season 2 will be remembered for one simple thing. It’s the first on-screen kiss between Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy.
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And It’s About Time Too!
For newer fans to Harley Quinn, let me assure you that this was not some ‘out of left field’ character choice. The kiss between Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy may seem like just a moment of fan-service, but that’s only if you don’t know the long painful history that got us here. The character of Harley Quinn has been bisexual since basically her conception. Unlike many people in the Batman universe, Harley Quinn was not a product of the comics. The brainchild of Paul Dini and Bruce Timm, Harley Quinn debuted in the Batman: The Animated Series episode ‘Mad Love.’
Harley quickly became a fan favorite, operating as the Joker’s abused side-kick. Hers was seen as a tragic story. A former psychiatrist at Arkham looking to write a tell-all book about a super-villain. She fell madly in love with the Joker, who manipulated her into helping him escape. Dr. Harleen Quinzel no longer, she became Harley Quinn. Eventually, it came time for her to split away from the Joker when his abuse finally went one step too far. After that, she teamed up with Poison Ivy, the pair creating a formidable team for Batman to foil.
Love Blossoms For Poison Ivy
Even in those early days, it was hinted at that the two were more than just friends. The scene of Harley walking out of the bedroom wearing just Ivy’s shirt springs to mind. Now of course, Batman: The Animated Series was a kid’s show. And a kid’s show in the 90’s no less. They couldn’t blatantly state that Harley and Ivy were a couple, lest the wrathful hand of Warner Bros. smite them. But Dini and Timm made clear in interviews later on that that was absolutely the intention.
Sadly, the later movies and other shows that would feature the characters seemed to forget that intention. The pair were more often shown as acquaintances and sometimes friends. Harley was usually portrayed as flirtatious with anyone, but still, hopelessly head over heels for the Joker. Ivy meanwhile was usually beyond things like love and romance, her desire to save the planet trumping anything and everything.
Even the comics seemed to play with our heart-strings. The rebirth run of Harley Quinn, starting in 2016, was not shy at all in acknowledging the sexual tension and budding romance between the two. This is where I must point out that when I say on-screen kiss, I’m not counting the comics. They absolutely have kissed in the comics multiple times. The disappointing go-to with the comics is that their relationship cannot be because Ivy fears she’ll abandon her quest to save the planet and instead choose a life settling down with Harley.
Finally, A TV Show That Gets It
I need to start out by saying that I was not thrilled about Harley Quinn when the show was first announced. Until recently, I felt like Harley had become a shell of herself. A caricature used to reduce the tragic character to a sexy girl with issues. Suicide Squad did her no favors. The casting of Kaley Cuoco didn’t do much for me either. I remember thinking “Oh good, I get to hear more of the girl from Big Bang Theory.” Oh, how wrong I was.
From the first trailer, I became sold on the show. It was funny, it let Harley have some depth again, and the voice cast was great. Not only did Kaley Cuoco serve me a heaping helping bowl of ‘shut the hell up’, but Lake Bell’s Poison Ivy is also incredible. Jason Alexander, Alan Tudyk, and Ron Funches all are stellar supporting cast members. At first, I found myself comparing the humor and comedic timing to Daria. And indeed, Lake Bell seems to have modeled Poison Ivy off of Jane Lane.
And then something happened. Something terrible dear reader. I saw a rumor floating around that this show would be the one to finally explore the romantic relationship between Harley and Poison Ivy. Yes, I know that should have been a good thing. But you see, I’ve been hurt before. Too many times in fact. The promise of finally getting the kiss between Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy was as wonderful as it was poisonous. Did I dare get my hopes up again? No, I took an “I’ll believe it when I see it.” approach. Now, I’ve seen it.
The Kiss Heard Round The World
As I said at the top, this wasn’t an instant romance. Season 1 was all about Harley and her obsession with the Joker, which makes sense. Abusive relationships are incredibly difficult to get over. The subtext of the first season is Ivy trying to help her friend get out of a toxic relationship. There is very little development of their romantic feelings in the first season, instead of focusing on their friendship.
That made sense, and I was all in favor of it. What I was not in favor of was Kite-Man. Harley Quinn is masterful at taking C tier characters from the Batman universe and using them well. Kite-Man is an obnoxious bro’y villain, who actually is a pretty good guy. He genuinely cares about ivy and goes out of his way to make sure she’s happy, and much to my chagrin, Ivy begins to return those feelings. The writers are both diabolical and ingenious in this way. Kite-Man being a genuinely decent person forces me as the fan to just sit there and yell “but it’s not the couple I want!”
And so I had all but given up hope when the 7th episode of the second season rolled around. Ivy and Kite-man were getting married, and Harley seemed genuinely happy for her friend. The two of them were imprisoned in The Pit by Bane and Two-Face. By the way, this portrayal of Bane is so mean and yet one of my favorites of all time. Harley sacrifices herself to allow Ivy to escape, telling her to go to Kite-Man, get married, and have children. However, Ivy saves her at the very last minute and they both celebrate. Then it happens. That celebration turns into a deep kiss and the greatest looks of shock ever committed to screen.
Where Does It Go From Here?
There are those out there who aren’t going to see this moment as important. Some people will see a kiss between Harley Quinn and Poison ivy as fan-service. Some will just have the “two girls kissing? nice.” reaction. And I know there is a pervasive sentiment out there that female same-sex relationships are the ‘safe’ LGBTQ relationship. But as I’ve gone to pain-staking length to illustrate in this article, this was not some arbitrary decision in 2020. This is a relationship that has been hinted at for almost twenty years.
If this had happened in the first episode, I might even agree that it was fan-service. Although, I admit I would have taken the fan-service at this point. But this show has built the character’s relationship up properly and earned that moment. As for those out there who are just happy to see two girls kissing, I believe that’s the answer we’re going to see with Kite-Man. This show is masterful at using their characters to illustrate how parts of the fandom will respond. I believe Kite-Man’s response will be something to the effect of “nice, when’s she coming over for the threesome?”
Where it goes from there, I don’t know. But I can’t wait to find out. Is it going to change the world? I doubt it. While Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy sharing a kiss aren’t going to fix all the injustices of the world, seeing a ‘healthy’ homosexual relationship on TV is an important step. The show took the time to build them up as friends, and now we get to watch them explore deeper feelings. So enjoy it, everyone, we’ve certainly waited long enough.
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