Patrick Schumacker interview: ‘Harley Quinn’
When “Harley Quinn” writer and producer Patrick Schumacker and the show’s writing team decided to explore a romantic relationship between the title character and Poison Ivy, it was actually something that the comics had already explored. “Historically, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy have had a romantic partnership along with being partners in literal crime,” Schumacker tells Gold Derby in our Meet the Experts: Television Animation panel (watch the exclusive video interview above). The team decided to go down that road in the second season after establishing Harley’s criminal journey in season one and focus on Ivy’s conflicting desires between predictability and love. “From early stages in season two, we started to seed in that she had these feelings for Poison Ivy and Ivy had these feelings for Harley, all the while complicated by Ivy’s heteronormative relationship with Kite Man.”
“Harley Quinn,” which is currently available on HBO Max explores the infamous villain as she seeks to emerge from under the shadow of The Joker and blaze her own path in the criminal underworld of Gotham City. Schumacker also describes the show as, “It’s like ‘Mary Tyler Moore’ if Mary were a complete psychopath.” The show’s voice talent includes Kaley Cuoco as Harley, Lake Bell as Poison Ivy and also features Emmy winner Tony Hale, Alan Tudyk, Ron Funches, Jason Alexander and J.B. Smoove. After airing two seasons, the third season will be debuting in the future on HBO Max.
Putting the show’s tremendous voice cast together was no easy task, especially as Warner Bros. Animation had not done a show like this before. “Warner Bros. Animation has this amazing legacy of animation but it’s mostly youth-driven and this was the first foray into something that was a hard TV-MA rating, but people didn’t quite know what to think of it initially.” Cuoco didn’t need much convincing to sign on and the rest of the cast simply fell into place. “I think it was maybe such a departure from what she had been doing the last 12 years on ‘The Big Bang Theory,’ that it was just exciting. Once we signed Kaley on as an actor, it just was this sort of snowball effect.”
After the show’s sophomore season, the original showrunner, Dean Lorey, wasn’t able to continue into the third season. This lead to the hiring of Chrissy Pietrosh and Jessica Goldstein as the new showrunners for the series, who had worked with Schumacker during the fourth season of “Cougar Town.” “We had been trying to work with them for seven years and it just never worked out and then finally the timing worked.” The show has already employed several female writers and this hiring helped the show build out their roles on the show, which has become an embarrassment of riches for them. “We wanted to fill Dean’s open seat with a female showrunner if we could and we ended up getting two of them.”