Harley Quinn Showrunners Say No Chance of a Joker Romance

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Harley and Poison Ivy

Screenshot: HBO Max

Season three of DC animated series Harley Quinn is now streaming on HBO Max, and showrunners Justin Halpen and Patrick Schumacker sat down with the AV Club to catch up fans on what to expect—or, in the case of a certain romance thankfully left in Harley’s past, what not to expect.

First, they addressed a couple of points in the series’ transition from DC Universe to the streamer. “HBO Max swooped in, saved the show,” said Schumacker. “From the jump on season three, they were like, ‘We love what you guys are doing. Don’t try and fix something that’s not broken.’ If anything, they’ve been like, ‘Go, go harder. If you want to be even edgier, we’re all for it.’”

That included leaning into Harley’s romance with Ivy, which has had some backlash from Joker and Harley shippers who want them to get back together. Schumacker quickly wrote that possibility off. “We still have the occasional fan reaction of ‘I don’t like Harley and Ivy together. She should get back with the Joker,’ which we’re never going to do. Harley and Ivy will never break up in the series as long as we have a say. That’s something that we never want to touch again.”

Centering Harley’s queer love story on her journey was always the plan. Halpern explained, “It was always a place we wanted to get to, but we wanted to make sure that we were telling a story first. How is Harley figuring out her own identity? What sort of self-discovery is she doing after this relationship with the Joker, right? And so if you just had her jump right back into another relationship right after that, because the fans are like, ‘Why aren’t they together right away?’would you want that? This person is so fucked up and just coming out of a terrible relationship. When have you ever in the history of human beings seen someone leave a terrible relationship that they’ve had for a really long time and instantly make the next relationship work perfectly? It doesn’t happen a lot. So we wanted to sort of taking our time with that.”

And while yes, Halpern admitted they are “two straight white dudes” showrunning the series, they take the responsibility to be accountable for handling the story authentically with their team, and added, “We have a lot of people in the room who are queer.”

Schumacker elaborated, “We would credit probably Sabrina Jalees, who was a writer on season two and is queer, for being the one to tell us, ‘Please don’t do a coming out story.’ And she’s the reason that we didn’t do that. I think that was maybe our initial instinct.”

Halpern piped in, “Which is a perfect example of why when you populate a room with other voices who aren’t afraid to tell you what you’re about to do is stupid, your show just comes out better.”

Read the full interview with the showrunners over at AV Club. Harley Quinn season 3 is now streaming on HBO Max.


Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.



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