Velma on HBO Max: Mindy Kaling’s bright Scooby-Doo reboot achieves the impossible.  – slate

Velma on HBO Max: Mindy Kaling’s bright Scooby-Doo reboot achieves the impossible. – slate

Velma premiered on HBO Max last week and almost immediately managed the impossible feat of getting the internet to agree on something — that this attempt at fleshing out Scooby-Doo’s most underrated character is very, very bad. Velma is produced and starred by and starring Mindy Kaling, one of television’s more controversial names. It is an adult animated crime thriller that follows teenage girl Velma Dinkley as she tries to solve the mystery of the serial murders of her classmates and the bigger mystery that plagues her: her mother’s disappearance.

Velma is intended to serve as an origin story, canonicalizing Velma’s homosexuality and postulating that it was the brilliant Velma who actually brought the Scooby Gang together. Fred (Glenn Howerton), Daphne (Constance Wu), and Shaggy (voiced by Sam Richardson and referred to here by his first name, Norville) are Velma’s classmates, ranging from sworn enemies to friends with reciprocated and unrequited feelings for our four-eyed tracker. But like most origin stories, it doesn’t work in the slightest, and despite the record for the biggest premiere of an HBO Max animated seriesVelma also has one of the lowest Rotten Tomatoes viewership I’ve seen.

As someone who grew up loving the animated Scooby series, as well as the cult live-action film adaptations, the whole idea of ​​Velma always seemed unfortunate. For one thing, the original Scooby iterations knew not to mess around with the near-perfect formula: they were self-assuredsarcastic and much funny. Velma, on the other hand, sits at the intersection of every streaming manager’s easy way to make a quick buck: rebooting major IP, dulling the tone of a popular children’s franchise, attempting to “wake up” older franchises, and so on. These things, when properly balanced, can have great, even popular, results — take Netflix’s recent hit Wednesday, for example. But Velma falters at every stage of the process, starting with justifying his own existence.

I don’t need to feel represented. I want to be entertained.

The industry’s penchant for reboots tends to conflict with who owns the rights to what. For Velma, the legal victim is Scooby-Doo. Charlie Grandy, the creator of Velma, confirmed that he had always thought about ditching the dog from the show to make Velma even older, but the decision was confirmed when Warner Bros. told them the dog was off-limits due to license issues. A Scooby-Doo Show without the dog seems pointless – why reboot a comedy and then get rid of its inherent comedic element?

Referring to another of the industry’s most important moves, I’d like to push back on the notion that any historically white property or gang of characters must be melanized to meet today’s standards. I say this as someone who loves a race-swapped rebrand of a beloved franchise, and even more enjoys the hilarity when white people are enraged by a fictional character who exists differently than they imagined. For me, one of the best things about the Scooby gang I grew up with was how their whiteness matched much of their slang (“zoinks” and “jinkies” might be the whitest words I’ve ever heard), personalities , and crazy decision making. I didn’t need to feel represented by them so much as I wanted to be entertained by them. In this version, Velma is a narcissist who has alienated everyone around her because she is a smarter brown girl who incessantly reminds everyone of those two facts. It’s less cheesy and certainly less funny.

As for the show’s goal of mocking the liberal political climate through adult comedy, it’s incoherent enough to infuriate everyone. Conservative pundits lost their minds upon learning that the series’ Velma would be openly lesbian, but the show has also managed to alienate viewers who question the series’ failed attempts to take a more progressive approach. True, Kaling has already been targeted by internet leftists for a variety of transgressions, some contentious and others tense, ranging from self-loathing to transphobia. But it also depends on the actual show is misogynistic, and completely devoid of nuance. As Forbes points out, the show’s idea of ​​attacking white male privilege makes Fred “such a whiny baby of a white man that his mother cuts his steak and he’s still under puberty, so he’s got a small penis.” It’s just as bad when Velma is forced to interact with her father’s pregnant friend, Sophie (Melissa Fumero), a young white business owner who, despite being openly welcoming, constantly denigrates Velma as an idiotic “simple bitch.”

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  • Ideally, “awakening” is not something you perform, but a reality in which you choose to exist. If you force it, you’ll end up with what sounds like an AI belch from Twitter. Velma’s attempts to modernize the franchise are so inept that they have given rise to it conspiracy theories that Kaling intentionally badmouthed Velma as fodder for an ongoing culture war in which people would incessantly rant about it online. And this criticism in turn has Conservatives claim that leftists are quick to label anything they just don’t like as “conservative.” Someone started a rumor that Scooby appears but is impersonated Black female character named Scoobi, which angered those who believed the show would draw such a close analogy between a black woman and a dog. The actual character is called Gigi (Yvonne Orji), but the rumor is also going around blamed on the Conservativeswho are believed to have allegedly started it to piss off liberal viewers.

    Of course, there’s nothing like satire – in my opinion, even the best things in life deserve a comedic slur. But Velma doesn’t feel like he’s knowingly and lovingly trying to poke fun at any political view or anything else he identifies with. It’s almost impossible to understand who this show is for. Still, Velma’s mistakes could be forgivable if at least it was funny. But it is not. And so we’re left with a show that doesn’t make anyone laugh and makes everyone angry, and doesn’t even have a great theme song. To quote a Great Dane: ruh-roh.