Jewish Representation in Harley Quinn

Harley Quinn has a serious problem with antisemitism. Associating Penguin, a corrupt rich character with a hooked nose with Jewishness, when that connection has literally never existed anywhere else in the DCU before, is antisemitic. The way it treats Jewish characters in the show- like the jokes about cremation? the jokes about penny pinching? the way the Jewish characters get the most drawn out, graphic deaths? That’s not cool, it’s not funny, and it’s not ok.

Looking at episode two and Penguin specifically

Looking at the episode “Jewish Lightning”

Frankly, I don’t expect anyone to care, but this is too important not to say anything, especially while everyone’s begging for this show to get renewed.

Don’t waste your time replying if you’re going to write paragraphs upon paragraphs about how “you can’t take a joke” or “it’s got gay rep/non white characters/it hates rich people so you can’t criticize it”. All of that is beside the point.

Listen to Jewish people. Listen to Jewish voices. “Never again” starts with microaggressions like this, here and now. No show, no matter how funny or well written, is worth throwing Jewish people, or minorities of any sort for that matter, under the bus.


I found some of it off-putting as well.

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I never really thought about it but now that you bring it up Jewish people did take a lot more punches than any other demographic.

For me even if the hooked noses were supposed to be a bad stereotype I liked it. I have a long hooked nose and thought it was kind of cool to see quite a bit of characters with a similar nose to mine.

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I hadn’t put that together, but you’re right making Penguin with how he is physically depicted Jewish plays directly into centuries old anti-Semitic stereotypes.


You know Harley’s Jewish, right? Her mother reveals it in Bensonhurst. But you’re right. The Penguin didn’t have to be depicted with old-fashioned Jewish stereotypes if Harley and her family weren’t.


There’s nothing wrong with the hooked nose, or even Penguin as a character. the problem is that the Harley Quinn show is the first time Penguin’s character has EVER been explicitly Jewish. That connection did not exist before the show.


Very true. I found it strange that the introduction to him was at his sons Bar Mitzvahvah.

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I’m well aware Harley Quinn is Jewish. And if you look at the links I included, they also talk about how Harley’s Jewishness is an informed attribute at best and how Harley’s mother’s Jewishness is used as nothing more than a joke that plays into Jewish stereotypes instead.

I believe you’re missing the point. Those stereotypes are not ok. Whether or not the main Jewish character is depicted with stereotypes doesn’t have any bearing on the OK-ness.

The issue with Penguin isn’t that the stereotypes were added to an existing Jewish character. The issue is that the writers looked at a rich, greedy corrupt man with a hooked nose that operates and manipulates things behind the things, including the bribing of government officials and law enforcement, and went “hey! That character is definitely Jewish!” even though, again that connection has never existed in any other version of the Penguin


I think in a DC daily interview they said Sy’s accent was based of stereotypes

You’re right. The writers really didn’t have to make the Penguin Jewish. The bar mitzvah could have have just been a birthday party if Penguin was going to be depicted as he is in the comics (that is, the Jewish stereotype you’re talking about). Harley and her family’s Jewishness didn’t even have to be brought up in the show. Harley’s mother made an inside joke when she said she wanted her daughter to marry a doctor (what “every Jewish mother wants”, as I remember her saying now). You’re right. This is screwed up. I love love love this show, but there are a few things I wish were done differently. This is one of them.


I’d write a Harley Quinn story detailing her days back in Hebrew school and causing mischief. Just like I did. In services, if you drop the prayer book in the synagogue, you have to kiss it right on the front cover. If you don’t someone else, normally a teacher will. Trouble making little snot me would “drop” said books then fart on them. Just a nice little toot. Then my teacher gives it a peck. I see Harley doing that.


I’ll say this: Season 2 was a lot better about this than Season 1. Maybe part of the reason they killed off Penguin was because they realized how this all looked, and couldn’t have it be part of the show anymore.


Yeah, I balked when the term “Jewish lightning” showed up in an episode. That episode was written by Adam B. Stein, who is Jewish, and show developer Jason Halpern’s father is Jewish. This isn’t a defense of their creative decisions, but it may explain why they felt like they could get a pass in making these jokes.


Being of Israeli descent myself, and also having a huge beak, I thought the Jewish humor was funny. Lighten up people. They used to call me pecker when I was in school. As in woodpecker. I used to break pine boards that were partly sawn through with my Schnozzola. People loved it.


I think that’s probably accurate. They felt comfortable making fun of their own culture via stereotypes in the same vein that The Marvelous Mrs Maisel does.


I don’t think that’s a fair comparison, though. Maisel’s depictions of Judaism are much more nuanced, and informed by deep cultural background. What we see here are caricatures.


Only regarding some of the characters. The parents especially can be presented as fairly stereotypical, especially on the ex-husband’s side. It’s those very stereotypes that the titular character plays off of in many of her acts.


I thought the same thing. It’s not ideal, but I kinda gave some of these things the “Mel Brooks Pass”. If that makes sense.


Same here Kon

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I think you’re looking for something where there isn’t anything.