HBO Max’s ‘Velma’ takes a new angle reimagining the mystery gang


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Sonia Kalo, News Editor

“Velma” is one of HBO Max’s newest original shows. The series is centered around the life of Velma Dinkley, a character originating from the beloved Scooby-Doo franchise. This show serves as a prequel to the gang’s iconic adventures.

There are currently a total of ten episodes, with the first two being aired on Jan. 12. The excitement leading up to its release was perpetuated by a recent revelation of Velma’s character a few months prior. Fans learned that Velma was supposed to be portrayed as a lesbian for the first time on screen in the 2022 movie, “Trick or Treat Scooby-Doo!” This was especially exciting for fans who have been theorizing about the character’s sexuality for years. Velma being a lesbian is not a new revelation as writers, such as James Gunn who wrote for the 2002 and 2004 live-action movies, have tried and failed to depict the character’s sexuality. This excitement for wanting to see another rendition of a queer Velma in this new series may have been misplaced, as the fan reception of the show was mostly negative. The “Velma” series is targeted to a mature audience and takes a very different approach in portraying the characters than previous iterations.

The series has received very polarizing reviews since its initial release. Despite gaining the title of the worst rated animated series on IMDb, it has become one of the most in-demand new shows this past week. This discrepancy in popularity is certainly a mystery to be solved.

There are many things the series does well. First off, the animation is incredible. The Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. animation paid careful attention to contrasting the dark, creepy hallucination scenes Velma has with the brighter, more colorful world the gang lives in. The inclusion of a diverse cast, while having its flaws, was a refreshing change of view. Many people of color were finally able to see themselves in the characters that they looked up to in their childhood. It made Velma, a quirky nerd, more accessible to not only a newer generation, but also to long-time Scooby Doo fans. The decision to deviate far from the original Scooby-Doo outline allowed for more original storytelling. Yet, the constant comparison to the original Scooby-Doo is what may cause the future downfall of “Velma.”

Long-time Scooby-Doo fans expressed disappointment towards the series on social media. Many said it lacks the main drive of the franchise, which is the deep friendship between all five characters. However, fans must keep in mind that it is a prequel to the version of the gang many of us are familiar with.

The main issue viewers have with the series is that it is simply poorly written. The stereotypes and self-aware jokes are painstakingly unfunny. The way Velma’s character is portrayed and her world views vary tremendously from the original Velma viewers know and love. Fred’s character is grossly pictured as a stereotypical rich, white man. This did not sit right with many viewers as Fred was always depicted as the group’s brave and kind leader.

Others argue over the choice to reimagine the characters as people of color since in every other version of the gang, the characters have always been portrayed as white. When watching the show, it would do fans good to keep in mind that this is a reimagining of the characters and not a remake of the original show.

Executive producer and the voice of Velma, Mindy Kaling, explains the decision to diversify the cast. “The original Scooby-Doo, which we’re such a fan of, is also really rooted in another era and reflective of the cultural landscape of the ’60s and the ’70s and what people traditionally put on TV. It just felt like, if we can have the characters be anything, why not do something new?”

The creators wanted the show to reflect the culture of today’s diverse society. Many other fans felt this deviation from the original characters was a commendable choice on the creators’ part. Gaining representation on television has been a constant battle for minorities. While the past few years have been great for representation on screen, it can be argued that it’s still not enough and many times these characters display negative stereotypes.

All in all, most of the negativity directed at the series seems to be from people who do not understand the creator’s motivation behind the series. The final two episodes release on HBO Max on Feb. 9. Until then, the mystery of the series remains to be solved.