Velma largely scoffs at the Scooby-Doo franchise for the sake of a cruel joke, but it would have been better by avoiding a connection to the property.
The HBO Max animated series Velma has been released, and the already contentious show has received more than a flood of negative reviews. Seen as having numerous faults, it’s certainly a less-than-conventional way to reinterpret the Scooby-Doo! property. In fact, its connection to said classic might be the biggest problem with the show.
Some of the biggest issues with Velma is how it completely distorts such a beloved franchise, turning it into something unrecognizable for the sake of the creator’s whims. Such a critique wouldn’t be applicable if it was simply an original series inspired by the Hanna-Barbera cartoon. Likewise, this would also bolster the general thoughts behind the show’s creation, making Velma a gigantic failed opportunity — among other things.
Velma’s Use of the Scooby-Doo Property Has Angered Many Fans
Given its adult humor and vastly different takes on classic characters, it’d be hard to fault some for seeing Velma as “Scooby-Doo in name only.” The iconic talking dog is gone, and in that Dane’s place are some not-so-great reinterpretations of Mystery, Inc. members. Fred and Daphne in particular seem to be the butt of jokes for the show, and it’s ironically the snack-obsessed Shaggy (who goes by his usual real name of Norville) that’s put in an arguably better light than usual. Many of the jokes are more than happy to take the proverbial Mickey out of the franchise, which is well-known for its many tropes and archetypes.
While there’s certainly room to poke fun at some of the less nuanced elements of Scooby-Doo iterations over the years, Velma comes off as less of a parody of the beloved franchise and more of a mean-spirited attempt to make fun of it. Needless to say, fans who grew up with more traditional Scooby-Doo takes are somewhat angered at such an innocent series being used for dirty jokes, many of which are at the expense of the property’s characters and concepts. A better way to do this sort of thing would be to avoid the proverbial skinsuit of Scooby-Doo entirely and merely use it as inspiration instead.
Emulating The Venture Bros. Could’ve Saved Velma
Instead of outright being a part of the Scooby-Doo franchise, Velma could have been simply been inspired by it to tell stories that said series never could. This would have given Mindy Kaling free rein while allowing Scooby and Mystery, Inc. to keep their innocence. An example of this is the Adult Swim series The Venture Bros., which is clearly an adult-oriented parody of shows such as Scooby-Doo and Johnny Quest. It comically uses those same tropes and archetypes for humor, but only with characters that are native to the series.
Another angle would be that the show now known as Velma would have been inspired by Kaling growing up and loving characters such as Velma Dinkley and Nancy Drew. This new series would easily star a completely original self-insert who goes on the sorts of adventures Kaling imagined herself experiencing. It certainly would have done wonders for the diversity angle, as it would have given audiences a wholly new South Asian heroine to root for. This is immediately curtailed by the nature of Velma being essentially a “distorted” version of an existing property. Given Velma’s Harley Quinn-style humor, it especially fails to provide such a hero for young girls, in particular. Thus, fans of Scooby-Doo and audiences in general are left trying to pick up their glasses with Velma, a show that largely fails at both what it tries to be and what it could have been.
Velma is now streaming on HBO Max.