Ruh-roh-Raggy! Mindy Kaling’s adult animated series Velma released on HBO Max Thursday and die-hard Scooby-Doo fans are not impressed.
According to the show’s tagline, it is meant to be ‘the origin story of Velma Dinkley (Kaling), the unsung and underappreciated brains of the Scooby-Doo Mystery Inc. gang’ that ‘unmasks [her] complex and colorful past.’
While touting itself as an ‘original and humorous spin,’ some fans feel it may stray too far from the source material. Currently, the shows sits with a low 11 per cent audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
These new complaints come as Kaling faces backlash for liking a tweet by transphobic author JK Rowling and accusations of using diabetes drug Ozempic for her weight loss.
It’s worth noting that many aren’t complaining about the new, diversified cast of Scooby-Doo but rather the change in the characters’ personalities. Viewers took to Twitter and complained about how unrecognizable these characters’ new personas are and how the show has lost the spirit of Scooby-Doo.
Velma or Mindy: some viewers have complained that Kaling inserted herself into the show rather than telling the ‘origin story of Velma Dinkley,’ as the logline claims
Viewers feel the spinoff characters are ‘unlikable’ and that the gang’s sense of family and friendship is now gone
‘Shower runner really just slapped down Scooby Doo names but none of them are actually their characters Just blatantly using the franchise name for their own show when it has nothing to do with Scooby Doo,’ one user tweeted.
‘The sad thing is an adult scooby doo adaptation could really work if they actually stayed true to the characters and the mystery gangs’ dynamic instead of being edgy for the sake of being edgy,’ a second user stated.
As far as the ‘humor’ goes, some feel the show makes too far of a departure from ‘campy’ to ‘edgy,’ even toeing the line of mean.
‘I find the changes in Velma weirdly cynical for a freaking scooby doo spinoff,’ one stated. ‘Like you don’t HAVE to add alpha male bs or drug abuse plot elements to a camp kids show about adults dressing up as ghosts for inheritance money.’
Another tweeted: ‘My only real thought on ‘VELMA,’ just from the trailers, is that it does not seem to come from a place of loving (or even at all enjoying) the source material. It’s a strangely mean-spirited twist with *seemingly* no effort made to understand its own basis or fandom.’
The show’s character descriptions highlight the differences in these new versions of the Scooby gang.
Joined by the ‘underappreciated brains’ Velma are Daphne (Constance Wu) – a popular mean girl orphan who deals drugs because of a dark family secret, Fred – a personification of mediocre white richness with ‘teeny widdle privates’ – and Shaggy, now known as Norville – a school nerdwho worries he’s a beta male.
Mindy Kaling (pictured right) plays Velma (pictured left), ‘the unsung and underappreciated brains of the Scooby-Doo Mystery Inc. gang’
Constance Wu (pictured right) voices, Daphne (pictured left) – a popular mean girl orphan who deals drugs
Sam Richardson (pictured right) voices Shaggy – now Norville (pictured left) – who is a school nerd who worries he’s a beta male
Glenn Howerton (pictured right) plays Fred (pictured left) who is a mediocre white dude with ‘teeny widdle privates’
One big complaint from viewers is that the characters in this spinoff are ‘unlikeable’ and untrue to how they were originally written.
One user refuted the new character descriptions, writing: ‘Daphne is not a mean girl. Fred is not an insecure man baby. Shaggy is not worried about being a beta.
They added: ‘One of the best parts of SD is the gang’s sense of family and friendship. They love each other. The new Velma show is appalling to change that core relationship.’
In the trailer, Velma doesn’t to seem have a great relationship with any of the gang as she called Fred rude while calling Daphne a b**** in grafitti.
The trailer dropped the day before the series hit HBO Max and was not well-perceived. The streaming platform was forced to turn off the comments section and hide the dislikes, but according to one user, it accumulated over 100k dislikes within 24 hours and they have their own theory as to why.
‘Take away everything you loved about Scooby Doo, add cringy dialogue and make all the characters unlikable and you have the new Velma series in a nutshell,’ they tweeted.
They added: ‘This trailer for the new Velma series has over 100K+ dislikes, which should pretty much tell you that nobody wants this.’
Twitter users feel Velma has lost the true spirit of the Scooby-Doo franchise and changed the personalities of its main characters to be ‘edgy’
Another primary complaint is the sexual nature of the animated series starring a cast of 15-year-old kids.
‘No shade against velma but i can’t be the only person a bit weirded out at “adult animated” comedies taking place in high school starring characters that are like 15…right,’ one user tweeted.
Another wrote, ‘Velma was just boring and unfunny and sexualized teens. They’re literally 15-16. I saw the first episode to give it a chance, and i’m not going to watch the rest I was bored 8 minutes in, It’s basically a self insert ruining of the Scooby gang (minus scooby).’
Self-insertion came up in a number of tweets- with fans wondering if the HBO series is really Velma’s backstory or a fictionalization of Kaling’s teenage years through then lens of the Scooby-Doo universe.
With near-nude locker room scenes, some viewers felt Velma was too sexual consider the characters are 15 years old
The HBO Max series draws comparisons to raunchy shows like Big Mouth and Riverdale as Velma twerks into her mirror, pictured above
Velma’s overtly sexual tones have drawn comparison to other series like Riverdale and Big Mouth.
‘Velma has a near 2 minute long scene of 15 year old girls butt naked and fighting each other in suggestive positions it really is shaping up to become the next Big Mouth,’ one wrote.
While drawing comparisons to Riverdale, another user pointed out that Kaling liked a tweet from transphobic author JK Rowling.
They tweeted: ‘It looks like Velma is shaping up to be a massive disaster :/ Note how it says she’s 15, now look at the sweater caption. Also the first pic of the show was of a naked Daphne, so they’re sexualizing minors AND the writer is transphobic. It IS Riverdale Scooby Doo.’
One user summed it up best: ‘Bottom line, it’s not the mystery gang. It feels hollow, and it’s another show about high schoolers (Velma is FIFTEEN here) doing drug and getting in sexual situations because it’s an “adult” show.’
Twitter users complained that Velma had a ‘cringy’ amount of sexual content for a show about 15-year-olds
In spite of the backlash, Kaling took to Twitter and expressed her pride in the show. Interestingly, she mentioned voicing Velma but not her role producing.
‘I’m so honored to voice Velma in this hilarious (and sometimes very scary!!) show, created by @CBGrandy and featuring some of the most killer actors in every role! It’s out RIGHT NOW GUYS on @hbomax!
Although Kaling seems to be ignoring the clamor, she addressed some of the negative feedback she had been receiving prior to the show’s release back in October.
Mindy admitted that she is ‘constantly surprised by reactions to everything on social media,’ per Insider.
Standing by her show: Despite the backlash, Kaling has proudly tweeted about her work on the project on the day of its premiere
Kaling wanted to introduce more diversity to the franchise since she felt that ‘in no way is the gang defined by their whiteness, except for Fred’
In this instance, she brings up one of the show’s positive changes – the introduction of diversity.
‘I think of the characters in this as so iconic, but in no way is the gang defined by their whiteness, except for Fred,’ she explained. ‘So, I was a little bit surprised and I think most Indian-American girls when they see this skeptical, hardworking, kind of underappreciated character, can identify with her.’
‘I think the vast majority of people are excited and ready for it and the show is for them,’ she added.
She knew from the start that she wanted to voice her character and admitted that her decision to make Velma South Asian was inspired by Into the Spiderverse.
‘We knew it would be fun for me to play Velma, but we had a conversation where Velma is white, and we have this new choice to do the show and if I’m voicing her, should she be white or should she not?’ she told EW.
‘We were really inspired by Into the Spiderverse— it’s animation, we can do anything. The essence of Velma is not necessarily tied to her whiteness.
‘And I identify so much as her character, and I think so many people do, so it’s like, yeah, let’s make her Indian in this series,’ she explained.
Kaling was surprised by the backlash she faced in diverising the cast
Sexual tension: Kaling wanted to use Velma’s origin story to explore her sexuality and theorized relationship with Daphne
During her interview with Insider, she elaborated that she identified with Velma ‘growing up’ because ‘she was so cute, but not like traditionally hot — super smart, super thick glasses, questionable haircut.’
She also teased that the series may explore James Gunn’s recent reveal that Velma was intended to be a lesbian in his version of Scooby-Doo.
‘This journey of self-discovery for her is something that really drew us to this project and this character,’ she said at the time. ‘So we want to honor other interpretations and what we think feels really modern.’
While there was fear that this amibious answer was going to lead an even more amiguous interpretation of the character’s sexuality, the series leans into this cannon featuring a kiss between longly-shipped Velma and Daphne in episode two.
While speaking to Variety, Kaling explained that the larger discussion about Velma’s sexuality is why she ‘really felt it worthy to do an origin story of her.’
Creator Charlie Grandy chimed in: ‘We faced no resistance. We came in and said, “This is what we want to do, and this is how we want to do it.”‘
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