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Harley Quinn and the art of giving a f**k

The producers of Harley Quinn discuss the anatomy of the f-bomb

Harley Quinn gives the finger
Image credit: Max

Harley Quinn has a dirty mouth, and she doesn’t give a .... you know. The Max animated series is known for its raunchy nature, gratuitous violence, and dirty vocabulary. Simply put, the show contains a lot of f-bombs, so put the kids to bed before you turn it on.

During a press event recently at San Diego Comic-Con, supervising producers Ian Hamilton and Cecilia Aranovich Hamilton spoke about the show’s unique relationship with the word fuck.

“At the beginning we had some restrictions,” Aranovich Hamilton recalled. “We had a limited number of f-words we could say. I think it was 7, or 8 per show. That’s it! That was at the beginning. As the show progressed, they were a little more lax with it.”

Tthe first episode of Harley Quinn had 19 f-bombs in it. The season 3 premiere had 33 f-bombs in it, so Aranovich Hamilton is right about Max getting more lax. (If you’re curious, by the time the season 3 premiere concluded, the show had accumulated 273 f-bombs throughout its entire run.)

The producers spoke about the delicate balance of knowing when to drop the f-bomb, and when to hold their fire.

“I think sometimes it’s just warranted. When it feels natural, I think it’s fine,” Aranovich Hamilton noted.

According to Ian Hamilton, some of the f-bombs are unscripted. At times during the recording sessions, the voice actors will get a feel for the scene and insert their own expletives.

“A lot of the times you feel it out, because the actors do so much improv while they’re in the room. A lot of the cursing comes from if Kaley Cuoco or J.B. Smoove feel like a fuck belongs there. That’s usually the ones that get checkered in. And that’s why you can’t go on a counter, because they will feel it while they’re giving it. If they think you can get a laugh out of dropping a word here or there.”

“Everybody kind of pitches in. Max, DC, and our development executives at WB all kind of give their notes,” Aranovich Hamilton said. “Sometimes it does feel like it’s gratuitous. If they say it too many times in a row. That’s the kind of notes that we get, if they say it three times in one sentence. Maybe we don’t need it that much.”

Harley Quinn season 4 is streaming now on Max.

Harley Quinn: How Dr. Harleen Quinzel went from background character to become a pillar of the modern DC Universe.