How DC Universe's 'Harley Quinn' Goes Back Into Her Criminal Roots

Damian Holbrook
Preview DC Universe

Get ready to meet a brand-new Harley Quinn, puddin'!

Former psychiatrist Harleen Quinzel, who was driven insane by the Joker and then became his long-suffering girlfriend and assistant, has grown tired of always being stuck in his shadow, so she's breaking loose — into her own animated DCU series.

The Big Bang Theory's Kaley Cuoco voices the title role, with Bless This Mess's Lake Bell as her best pal Poison Ivy and Doom Patrol's Alan Tudyk as the Joker.

"There have been several iterations of Harley over the years, obviously," says executive producer Patrick Schumacker. "We wanted to go back to her criminal roots and tell the story of her breaking up with the Joker and striking out on her own to become the criminal kingpin of Gotham City."

See DC's 'Harley Quinn' Cast in Our TCA Summer 2019 Portrait Studio (PHOTOS)

See DC's 'Harley Quinn' Cast in Our TCA Summer 2019 Portrait Studio (PHOTOS)

Kaley Cuoco, Alan Tudyk, J.B. Smoove, Lake Bell, and Diedrich Bader strike a pose!

That's a tall order in a town so out of control that even its legendary police commissioner, James Gordon (Christopher Meloni), has PTSD. ("Imagine you are the police commissioner of the most dangerous city in the world, and every day of your life seems like living the movie Seven over and over again," Schumacker says. "He is dark, to the point where Batman's like, 'Whoa, settle down, man. You're making me sad.'")

(Credit: DC Universe)

But if you're Harley Quinn, you have a different take on Gotham: "Harley, being relentlessly optimistic, sees the fun in the city," Schumacker explains. "The color palette is vibrant, with retro neon, purples and pinks. It's still Gotham, but it's a more fun, carnivalesque version."

Behind the Scenes With the Casts of 'The 100,' 'Wynonna Earp & More at SDCC 2019 (PHOTOS)

Behind the Scenes With the Casts of 'The 100,' 'Wynonna Earp & More at SDCC 2019 (PHOTOS)

See how the stars let loose in our studio, sponsored by Tate's Bake Shop.

As she goes about trying to build her criminal clout in Batman's hometown, Harley will put together her own outlaw gang, including new character Sy Borgman, an octogenarian cyborg voiced by Jason Alexander. "Half his body parts are robotic, but they're from the '80s," Schumacker says, "so he's kind of an analog robot man."

Familiar DC Comics baddies are also on board, like Clayface (Tudyk), Doctor Psycho (Tony Hale) and King Shark (Ron Funches). Good news for Harley: turns out Shark is a tech whiz! "He's the Chloe of 24 of the group," jokes Schumacker.

(Credit: DC Universe)

All this brings Harley to the attention of the Legion of Doom and — surprise, surprise — the Joker. "The Joker is her Achilles' heel," Schumacker says. "In the last couple of episodes, Ivy and Harley go head-to-head against him once and for all, which has some real, seemingly lasting ramifications."

On top of the action, look for straight-up comedy from this zany storyline, which plays out over a 13-episode first season. Comedian Wanda Sykes is the evil Queen of Fables and J.B. Smoove is Ivy's chill, wise-cracking houseplant. And when Clayface's arm gets cut off during a botched heist, it develops a life of its own (listen for SpongeBob SquarePants himself, Tom Kenny, voicing that role).

(Credit: DC Universe)

Still, this is Harley Quinn's show, and its tale is one of her personal growth as she learns to survive on her own. "We pitched this character as Mary Tyler Moore if she were a supervillain," Schumacker says. "She's this optimistic, can-do, fresh-faced girl from the big city, and Kaley brings that relentless optimism to it. Harley has big dreams that, though they are firmly entrenched in supervillainy, are simple enough that you get behind them. People are going to be rooting for her."

She might just make it after all. And heads are gonna roll if she doesn't.

Harley Quinn, Coming soon, DC Universe

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