'She-Ra' and 'Harley Quinn' mark a historic day for LGBTQ+ representation in animated series
Spoilers for 'She-Ra and the Princesses of Power' Season 5 and 'Harley Quinn' Season 2, Episode 7
The queer community has been greatly under-represented on screen, especially in animated series. Characters that seem to obviously have romantic feelings for each other are relegated to being "best friends" on screen, despite the passionate fandoms that ship the two together. One of the more famous examples is Korra (Janet Varney) and Asami (Seychelle Gabriel) from 'The Legend of Korra' — while the last moments of the series seemed to imply that the two were a couple, it was never made canon on the series, only confirmed much after the fact. Today, however, in not one but two animated series, lead characters have had their queerness confirmed with a canon, onscreen kiss.
It began with the season finale of 'She-Ra and the Princesses of Power'. The series' lead, Adora (Aimee Carrero) has had a longstanding rivalry with her former best friend, Catra (AJ Michalka). Catra has had strong resentment towards any of Adora's allies, as well as clear abandonment issues, but despite a powerful on-screen chemistry between the pair that was obvious to everyone watching the series, the romantic nature of those feelings was never confirmed. Fans of the series have been insistent in their beliefs that "Catradora" was meant to be together.
'She-Ra and the Princesses of Power' contains many openly queer characters, making it extra baffling to the fans as to why the leads of the series can't be represented as such.
Season 5, however, brought about that very representation. After a long redemption arc, in which Catra finally joins the good guys and learns to stop pushing those she cares about away, Catra declares her love for Adora. Adora, instantly, professes her love for Catra in return, and the two kiss. It's a kiss that infuses Adora with the power of She-Ra — a power that Adora's only been able to access through the conviction of her love. It is a kiss that, ultimately, saves the world.
Meanwhile, on 'Harley Quinn,' the situation is not nearly as inspiring, but still as important. Fans have been shipping Poison Ivy (Lake Bell) and Harley Quinn (Kaley Cuoco) for decades, ever since the 'Harley & Ivy' episode of 'Batman: The Animated Series.' Their relationship was officially made canon in recent comics, confirming both characters' bisexuality. Fans of the couple believed that the pair would be in a similar relationship in the animated series.
However, showrunners Patrick Shucmacker and Justin Halpern believed that Harley should not be in a new relationship so soon after her break-up with the Joker (Alan Tudyk), which is a fair enough reasoning, if it were not for the fact that neither Harley nor Poison Ivy were ever shown to be anything but straight on the show. Fans were further baffled when Poison Ivy entered a relationship with Kite Man (Matt Oberg), which led to the couple being engaged. The engagement was additionally baffling, given that the showrunners had confirmed in interviews that the Harley-Ivy relationship would be featured in Season 2.
The latest episode of 'Harley Quinn' finally gives fans that moment, after Harley sacrifices herself to save Poison Ivy's life. Ivy manages to save Harley in return, and in the adrenaline rush of the moment, the two share a passionate kiss — one they pull back from with conflicted looks on their faces, as Ivy's engagement to Kite Man complicates the situation. Nonetheless, it's a moment that fans have been asking for for a long time.
To have a lead character of a show in a confirmed queer relationship is lightning in and of itself, but to have two such events happen on the very same day is definitely a case of lightning striking twice. It's a real turning point for queer, canonical relationships in animation, and hopefully leads the way to more representation across other media.
'Harley Quinn' can be streamed on DC Universe, and the next episode airs May 22. All episodes of 'She-Ra and the Princesses of Power' can be streamed on Netflix.