Harley Quinn: A Very Problematic Valentine’s Day Special is not quite as risque as it sounds, but it’s still just as hilarious and heartfelt as the show itself.

Harley Quinn: A Very Problematic Valentine’s Day Special (2023) Review By Mark McPherson

Published on February 22, 2023

Rating 4 /5

After season three of the Harley Quinn animated series capped off with a satisfying and cage-rattling conclusion, the show has solidified its hold as the most hilarious and eccentric of DC Comics shows. The relationship between Harley and Ivy has developed to such a degree that it may be one of the most relatable and adorable TV couplings. A Very Problematic Valentine’s Day Special acts as a victory lap for the season, giving one more dose of the show’s brilliant balance of relationships and absurdity within a supervillain playground that is Gotham City.

The conflicts of this special told through various characters are a longing for acceptance. Despite winning over Ivy’s love, Harley is still insecure about being a good girlfriend. This leads to her stumbling around, trying to make this day special, despite how much Ivy wants to keep things low-key. Of course, nothing is low-key in the Harley Quinn show, and things only get weird when the demon Etrigan starts selling love spells at this particular time of the year. The spells work, but maybe to the degree that Harley didn’t count on.

While this is happening, the supervillain, Bane, finds this holiday exceptionally lonely. He accidentally finds some romance with an S&M queen (mistaking him for another sex worker) and later uses a love spell incorrectly to make him a giant, horny monster. Other ridiculous side plots include Clayface forming a starcrossed romance with his butt and a variety of hero/villain couples attending couples counseling. I must admit I nearly fell out of my seat laughing at the Apokolips ruler Darkseid confessing his feelings for a gold-digging woman.

Much like the show, this special has a brilliant balance of raunchy adult-oriented comedy and the meaningful development of its characters. It is uproarious that Harley staged a chase over a past recipe and instead told about her relationship with Ivy. It doesn’t so much feel like a side story to the show but a further example of how there’s still plenty of hurdles in this relationship for the two to conquer. While they ultimately resolve their differences like a healthy couple, the chemistry between them is brilliant, as when Harley tries to innocently confess her usage of a love spell while Ivy groans at how this magic led to everybody in Gotham copulating.

It’s refreshing that this special favors a great deal of sex positivity. There’s no shaming of others for what type of love they seek, and different types of relationships are explored. During season three, one episode featured Riddler and Clock King romantically together amid a supervillain awards ceremony. It’s nice to see it wasn’t just a publicity stunt; they still have a relationship that works. There’s also some fun to be had in how certain relationships form, as when Hawkman and Hawkgirl confess their messy history of reincarnation and how they keep falling for each other in every lifetime.

If there’s one aspect I wish this special would embrace more of, it would have to be the depictions of sex. Yes, this special goes much more sexual than the show, but it still favors its hide-the-pickle mentality. Perhaps it’s a bridge too far to want to see more but how could you not when the special’s climax has a giant nude Bane having sex with buildings?

Harley Quinn: A Very Problematic Valentine’s Day Special is not quite as risque as it sounds, but it’s still just as hilarious and heartfelt as the show itself. The animation is vibrant, the dialogue crisp, and the romantic chemistry flows beautifully throughout its many stories. It’s a great special for a great series, serving as a nice holdover until season four arrives.

Written By

Mark McPherson

Written By

Mark McPherson

Mark has been a professional film critic for over five years and a film lover all his life.

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