Harley Quinn season 4 bat-family

Harley Quinn Season 4 Review: Fun to the Max

Harley Quinn Season 4 is a return to form for the adult animated comedy series. Funny, thrilling and refreshingly self-aware, the show packages its mature content with just enough bite and stupidity to make the story fun to watch–even as the characters we’ve come to love struggle against adversity. While the show has been a joy to watch since the beginning, Season 3 felt rudderless at times, and lacked the strong pacing and clear narrative direction of the first two entries. Season 4 offers a fresh twist on the established status quo, jolting the series with a much-needed sense of direction and drama. 

Harley Quinn has always been a bit of a dark horse for the DC brand; the series premiered at the height of the Arrowverse on The CW, and arrived on the short-lived streaming service DC Universe alongside self-serious fare like Titans and Swamp Thing (even Doom Patrol, for all its whacky hijinks, still skews towards drama over comedy). Today, the adult cartoon maintains a raunchy, chaotic tone unlike anything else in the franchise—goofier than James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad, and more unapologetically feminist than Wonder Woman. Harley Quinn has fun with the uncomfortable truths about fandoms, challenges viewers to think differently about these characters, and then does something absolutely buck-wild, like turn the Joker into a suburban step-dad.

Season 4 opens with Harley (Kaley Cuoco) and her girlfriend Poison Ivy (Lake Bell) exploring new directions in their careers. The titular clown reached the heights of super-villainy in season 3 and discovered that the pursuit of evil might not be as fulfilling as she’d hoped. Meanwhile, Ivy—a self-described eco-terrorist—is stepping out of her comfort zone to accept a leadership position with Lex Luthor’s (Giancarlo Esposito) villainy organization, The Legion of Doom. Unlike the previous seasons, this batch of episodes sees Harley and Ivy being organically pulled in different directions. It’s not just that their personalities at times clash, or that they have different value systems, but for the first time ever, each is putting their individual needs first. Unsurprisingly, this spells trouble for their relationship. 

Harley Quinn Season 4 Is More Of What We Love

Harley Quinn stumbled on a basic formula that works: it’s a loving superhero satire (similar to The Venture Bros. but with brand-name heroes). Harley’s unique blend of obnoxious over-confidence, wide-eyed optimism, and capacity for compassion make her likeable and a joy to watch. DC found the secret to mocking its own IP that Marvel failed to grasp with both MODOK and She-Hulk—it’s not enough anymore for a show to just have gross-out, crass humour, subversive jokes, or social commentary. It needs heart, and this is something Harley Quinn has in spades.


Not every new idea in Harley Quinn Season 4 works, and there are glaring issues with the approach to character development. At times, both Harley and Ivy are behaving contrary to their established characters, and their motivation feels weak as a result. The show provides enough exposition to explain their choices, just not enough emotional groundwork. Clayface (Alan Tudyk) is barely in the season, and his absence is sorely felt. Nightwing (Harvey Guillén), Batgirl (Briana Cuoco), and Robin (Jacob Tremblay) are amusing in small doses, but can’t match Harley’s frantic, violent energy. Case in point: Clayface’s Stephanie gets more laughs in a single episode (Season 2’s “Riddler U”) than the entire Bat-family in all of Season 4.

The change of pace in Harley Quinn is fun, but it’s unlikely to last. As proven by the underrated Birds of Prey, the crazed clown is best when she gets to be both a kind-hearted lover and a bit of a violent fiend. To paraphrase Mae West, when Harley is good, she’s good—but when she’s bad, she’s better.

Harley Quinn is now streaming on Max.