WARNING: The following ontains spoilers for Harley Quinn Season 1, streaming now on DC Universe.
DC Universe’s Harley Quinn TV series is bonkers and it’s not just because of Kaley Cuoco’s depiction of Joker’s ex. Sure, she’s a hoot with her villainy as she tries to break out of the shadow of the Clown Prince of Crime and prove she’s Gotham’s A-list villain.
However, Harley decides rolling solo isn’t the key to getting the Legion of Doom’s attention as well. She enlists her own gang of ne’er-do-gooders including her bestie Poison Ivy, the thespian Clayface and the naive King Shark. All of them are worthy inclusions to the show, But the cartoon’s breakout star is Doctor Psycho (Tony Hale) who steals the show completely.
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In Episode 3, “So You Need a Crew?,” Psycho first appears and in the most disrespectful, unsavory fashion. While battling Wonder Woman on national TV, he calls her the C-word (luckily, it’s bleeped out on the streaming service). Of course, this kind of profanity goes way beyond an F-bomb insult, and the show gets meta as the whole world stops to take note. Psycho’s ashamed but he can’t take it back amid the crickets chirping, but he gets dragged in the media nonetheless.
What makes this event a key aspect of Doctor Psycho is that he’s frustrated and misunderstood. He’s not a misogynist or hater of feminism, he just has a foul-mouth and curses like a sailor. We quickly learn Psycho’s potty-attitude comes from his failed relationship with Giganta, who comes on the scene to discuss their sex life or lack thereof. And when the couple goes a talk show to discuss their issues, he drops the C-word again as he loses his mind over how Giganta has had enough. This happens in front of everyone, and you can’t help but feel sorry for the mite. While Psycho might not be physically abusive, he is emotionally difficult. This leads to him seeking redemption, which is how he lands with Harley’s crew.
This is where Psycho shines and we get to see the man under all the issues. He really does try to take care of the team and almost sacrifices himself on a couple occasions. He’s not a den dad but in “Being Harley Quinn,” when they enter the jester’s mind, he does his best to ensure they can liberate her mentally, taking up a team leader role. Psycho fights tooth and nail to emancipate Harley so she could emerge in the real world as her best self. And no matter how much of a dick he is to them, while he won’t admit, he does care about his teammates.
Even Ivy has noticed this which is why she isn’t as pissed off anymore about the tabloids spreading rumors that she’s sleeping with Psycho. So amid his funny look, with this in-depth narrative, the show really does add nuance to the character that’s not seen in the comics His heroic traits and the chemistry with Ivy, while not romantic, feel so much better than the rinse and repeat story of Harley and Joker, so much so that you want more episodes to explore his life.
We get a taste of how interesting his past and present is when his estranged son Herman is found trolling and slandering the crew’s name online as the Cowled Critic. It turns out Herman has abandonment issues and with Psycho having his own daddy issues, he makes amends with the lad in “You’re a Damn Good Cop, Jim Gordon.” It proves he’s a lot more selfless and is indeed trying to fix himself, whereas Harley’s just out for herself and to use her allies as a means to an end. And if someone like Psycho’s going through such a relatable turn, you know he’s worth your time because while he doesn’t have the best rep, he’s at least trying to elevate himself.
DC Universe’s Harley Quinn stars Kaley Cuoco, Lake Bell, Diedrich Bader, Alan Tudyk, Rahul Kohli, Christopher Meloni, Tony Hale, Ron Funches, Wanda Sykes, Natalie Morales, Jim Rash, Giancarlo Esposito, Jason Alexander and J.B. Smoove. New episodes are released on Fridays.