Why Velma Is the New Punching Bag on the Internet? Velma, HBO Max’s most recent addition to the Scooby-Doo canon, has the kind of background that typically denotes a smash. A show about one of the popular culture’s most adored nerds is executive produced by seasoned TV auteur Mindy Kaling, who also provides the voice for the title character in the animated series. Like Riverdale before it, Velma also reinvents a staple of children’s entertainment in a wink-wink adult way. Despite having so much going for it, the show has nonetheless become the internet’s new favorite target of ridicule.
Tweets criticize the show’s efforts to use edgy humor to poke fun at the cultural wars. Its plot lines are mocked in parodies. The response has been graphically chronicled by Forbes: One article claimed that showrunner Charlie Grandy, “a regular Kaling collaborator” and “the son of a former Love Boat star,” “has been accused of being a ‘nepotism’ case.” Everyone despises Velma, as another person put it succinctly.
The actual story behind this fallout is convoluted, as usual. Despite the criticism, viewers continue to tune in; according to HBO Max, Velma was the premiere of one of its most popular animated series ever. They’re viewing it through the prism of Velma’s entire past and the entire Scooby-Doo franchise, which is a problem.
For starters, Velma chose color-blind casting, changing the character’s race to South Asian. Another reason is that Velma is shown to be more obviously queer. Although it may be simple to attribute criticism of the show to the normal racism and/or homophobia that often go along with it—and there probably still is some of that at work here—going what’s on with Velma goes deeper than that.
The most common criticisms of the program appear to center on how bland and one-note it is in how it addresses the diversity issues within the Mystery Inc. crew. And any attempt to address Velma’s sexuality—a subject that has been brought up in discussions about Scooby-Doo for years—needs to be in-depth.
The creators of the character have made hints that Velma is queer for many years through numerous Scooby-Doo products. She was obviously queer-coded in her earliest iterations, and James Gunn, who penned the scripts for the first two Scooby-Doo live-action films in the early 2000s, said a few years ago that Velma was “explicitly lesbian” in his 2001 draught of the story. However, the studio merely continued diluting it, making it vague (in the version shot), then nothing (in the version that was released), and ultimately having a boyfriend (in the sequel). Tony Cervone, a supervising producer on Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated stated in an Instagram post during Pride month in 2020 that his Velma was “not bi. She is gay.
However, Velma’s sexuality was never fully explored in the 2010–2013 television series Mystery Incorporated. Then, in the animated film Trick or Treat Scooby-Doo! released around the end of last year, the subtext was made explicit: Velma had a crush on a female villain. A teenager from Ontario was among the first to notice the news, according to The Washington Post, and her ecstatic tweet, “OMG LESBIAN VELMA FINALLY CANON CANON IN THE MOVIES LETS GOOOOOO,” quickly went viral.
Why Velma Is the New Punching Bag on the Internet
Fans of Velma Dinkley were justified in believing that they had contributed to the Scooby story’s inclusion of the character’s sexuality by their unbridled excitement and support. In essence, the character turned into a meme, and the meme turned into a character. She attained her goal of becoming what her online fan base desired in Trick or Treat Scooby-Doo!
Thus, perhaps a lot of people weren’t prepared for HBO Max’s Velma when she appeared—snarky, spiteful, and full of righteous and not-so-righteous rage. They also felt a sense of ownership, for better or worse.
According to Charlie “son of Love Boatman” Grandy, “the intention was never to retcon Scooby-Doo, to entirely replace it,” he said to WIRED. Grandy and Kaling’s dream to inhabit “this one small odd ice planet in the Scoobyverse” has always been theirs. Grandy notes that the more conventional Scooby-Doo properties will “continue to exist” apart from this Velma version. HBO will continue to carry Scooby-Doo movies. The Scooby-Doo animated films will continue. That train won’t ever come to a stop. Yes, this version of Velma has been altered, but that doesn’t imply it should be considered superior to all others.
When Kaling was given the opportunity to browse the Warner Bros. library three or four years ago, she discovered a dormant resemblance to Velma. Growing up, she had recognized herself in that role, according to Grandy. He and Kaling were conscious of Velma’s internet legacy when they created the program and “truly wanted to appreciate that.” The series, however, is a prequel, and their Velma is the one who lived “before the sharp edges got polished down a little,” he continues. Before she suffered some setbacks and paid a price for having an unpleasant demeanor.
When Kaling was invited to browse the Warner Bros. library, she discovered a dormant resemblance to Velma that led to the creation of Velma three or four years ago. Grandy claims that as a child, “She had seen herself in that character.” He and Kaling “really wanted to honor it” when they created the show, as they were always conscious of Velma’s internet legacy. But since the show is a prequel, he explains, their Velma is the original, existing “before the sharp edges got polished down a little bit.” She had to suffer several setbacks and pay a price for having an unpleasant personality before.