People of Gotham need clean drinking water, not an action figure – Harley Quinn and The Joker

Realm was the first audio fiction studio that I discovered. And while I have some issues with their promotion strategy, I still really enjoy most of their titles, especially since they started adding other producers to their already impressive library, i.e. Fool and Scholar Productions, Violet Hour Media, or recently Marsfall.

But despite Realm being my “first podcasting love”, I didn’t check out their “premium” productions, not only because I dislike most of the superhero genre, but also, lets be honest, for purely financial reasons.
That’s why I was really curious and excited, when I found out that “Harley Quinn and the Joker – Sound Mind” produced by Realm was going to be available as a Spotify original. Not only I find these particular characters really interesting, especially when featured in a modern, deconstructive narration, but also I absolutely worship Christina Ricci, who plays Harley. And of course, the oportunity to finally check out the production value of Realm’s premium podcast was very tempting.

First of all, the plot is really compelling: we follow, step by painful step, the origins of Harley Quinn, to find out how exactly an educated psychiatrist, under harsh life conditions , turns into one of the DC universe’s most complex and interesting… Villains? Did she, as many think, “went rogue” because of love? In this take on the story, it turns out that she went wayward because of a great personal tragedy, hardships of American turbocapitalism, and yes, love, but not the romantic kind.

The show really neatly shows characters who are not only deep, but also deeply embedded in their surroundings and socioeconomic environment, and amazing chemistry between the dramatis personae. Harley, or actually Harleen, has to endure misogyny related to a male dominated workplace, while also taking care of a family member who fully depends on her. She is a well written, strong, modern woman, who absolutely gives no damn about the Joker’s cockiness, and immediately calls him out on his BS, telling him what he thinks about it.

She also really well diagnoses Batman, ironically talking to Bruce Wayne, who is well meaning, yet obsessed, and also totally clueless about how regular people in Gotham live. She even tells him that “People of Gotham don’t need a symbol, they need clean drinking water”, and despite the fact that the romantic tension between the two is palpable, she shoots straight, telling him what she thinks. Will she be able to awake some social consciousness in Bruce? Or will she find out that the Joker is more relatable to her than she initially thought? However you may suspect what the answer wil be, the writers manage to still make it a story arc that is surprising and exciting.

Production-wise it’s flawless. The characters are well-written, the acting is brilliant, and the story is compelling, and I binged the whole thing in one day. It is, indeed, a premium content, and all I can really complain about is that the series is really short, but this is perfectly understandable too, as the story is a nice, rounded and closed arc.

The only negative thing I could really say about this, ays more about me and my expectations than about the production itself; I am just used to… Less rounded audio dramas. Most of the stories I listen too are more grassroots, created by real fans who want to tell their own story in their own way. “Harley Quinn and the Joker” is very much the opposite – well produced, well done, and deeply, well, commercial. While this is a little bit disappointing to me personally, especially with such a juicy, socially conscious story, it is not a negative by itself.

All that being said, the drama is great, the acting is flawless, and the story really can get you hooked. If you didn’t listen to it yet, I definitely advise that you do.
You can naturally find it on Spotify. Enjoy!






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