Criticism of Velma, the new spin-off of Scooby Doo for HBO Max

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Velma will premiere with two episodes on HBO Max on January 12, followed by two weekly episodes.


Much has been made of Velma as the unsung hero of Scooby-Doo, the investigator who has never been given a chance to truly shine. For many, she is the brains of the team of teen mystery-solvers. But while it’s true that in most iterations of her the character has played second fiddle to the rest of the cast, HBO Max’s Velma proves exactly why the character, at least in this version, isn’t exactly cut out for the spotlight.

Mindy Kaling lends her voice (in the original dub) to a drastically different (and totally irritating) version of Velma that is a far cry from her original portrayal. Running for ten half-hour episodes, this animated prequel is full of bawdy laughs and some funny moments, but her insistence on reinventing Velma as a sarcastic, self-hating outcast prevents it from becoming the genre-busting adult comedy it aspires to be. Instead, she seems like a biting and hateful version of Daria without the character growth.

Velma Dinkley attends Crystal Cove High School while a serial killer is on the loose. His goal of her? attractive girls. When Velma is accused of a murder she didn’t commit, she takes on the case to clear her name.. The only problem? She herself has a mystery to solve: the disappearance of her mother Diya (Sarayu Blue). Together with her friend Norville Rogers (Sam Richardson), her enemy Daphne Blake (Constance Wu) and spoiled rich kid Fred Jones (Glenn Howerton), she is determined to discover who is behind the murders and unravel the secrets of the mother absent from her.

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In this animated series, Velma is not just a brave and sarcastic teenager who wants to fight the patriarchy and solve mysteries. She’s also a bit of a jerk. When she’s not complaining or putting someone down, He’s a real joke machine. that she never runs out of sarcastic comments that never come off as sharp as she thinks they are.

Is quick to judge others based on their looks and social status. Her peers never let her forget that she is not an “attractive girl”, but her personality is by far the least attractive thing about her. And while it’s easy to understand why she behaves this way after internalizing years of feelings of misogyny and inadequacy, her always grating jokes make it hard to watch, let alone empathize with, her character.

The series seems to be self-aware enough to recognize these qualities of Velma, but it is unclear if this is deliberate or an attempt to make viewers laugh at his flaws. “You think deep down all girls are like you, but you’re wrong,” claims the popular Olive (Fortune Feimster) after Velma gives the “hotties” of Crystal Cove an “ugly” makeover to avoid attracting the wrath of the serial killer who runs rampant. “In fact, your definition of femininity is even more restrictive than ours,” Olive continues.

There are plenty of genuinely funny moments that make you laugh out loud.

“I have no idea how to be a woman who doesn’t judge other women,” Velma concludes after this brutal takedown. In the end, Velma reasons that she is all “sass and glasses” compared to her conventionally attractive classmates, realizing that both ideologies should be respected equally. But it’s a lesson that rings empty. It’s as if the writers have made her self-aware enough to approve of her disgusting antics.

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Velma is not the only character who has undergone a strange transformation. Shaggy, whose birth name in the series is Norville, starts out as little more than a would-be lover. His only concern is wooing Velma, and when he’s not actively trying to get her attention, he’s scheming to appear attractive to her. This is a plot thread that is later subverted, but the trick runs out long before then.

Luckily, the humor doesn’t rely on Velma’s jokes or Norville’s new personality to work. There are plenty of genuinely funny moments. in every episode that doesn’t involve her at all. This is Scooby-Doo through the same adult lens that made DC’s Harley Quinn series a success, and when it works, it works very well.

Daphne Blake and Fred Jones are characters that many Scooby-Doo fans have dismissed as insipid and privileged teenagers, especially in the classic series. Curiously, in Velma they end up becoming the most interesting members of the cast. Daphne is a smart and funny member of the popular group searching for her birth parents, though her mothers (Jane Lynch and Wanda Sykes) seem to know more than they’re letting on. Constance Wu is absolutely hilarious as the fire-haired girl, and would have made a fantastic lead in Velma’s place.

Velma will be an origin story.

Glenn Howerton hace Fred’s best performance than the Scooby animated universe has ever seen. At once selfish, childish, and virulently stupid, he has some of the funniest lines in the entire series. There’s a psychopathic undertone to him that has always seemed to run through all versions of Fred, and Howerton elevates this personality trait of him in such a way that it leads to hilarious situations, like Fred going to jail.

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For those who expected Velma to give the character space to explore her sexuality, given her recent unequivocal portrayal as a gay woman, the series is very successful. In the early promotional trailers it wasn’t obvious, given Velma’s initial crush on Fred. Velma and Daphne reflect on the implications of their relationship beyond the limits of friendship and admit that it is much more than that. But this acknowledgment comes without much more than a “blink and you’ll miss it” in an episode.

This prequel allows Velma and Daphne’s relationship to blossom, albeit not perfectly.

Although the girls’ romance becomes a major component of the series as it progresses, Velma and Daphne’s relationship little develops. At least this prequel gives the opportunity for this relationship to blossom, even if not perfectly.

Velma is an often funny take on the classic Scooby-Doo series, with plenty of cheeky humor. But It’s a shame that most of what makes Velma fun has nothing to do with the main character.. This series likely arose from fans who have always wanted more for the lonely teen. Ironically, the series would be exponentially better without her namesake, or at least a version of her with a bit more personality.