The latest from HBO Max access to the Scooby-Doo canon, Velmahas the kind of pedigree that usually signals touch. Executive produced by veteran TV writer Mindy Kaling, who also voices the title character of the animated series, it’s a show about one of pop culture’s most beloved nerds. Like River valley for the, Velma also takes a staple of children’s entertainment and gives it a new, winking adult spin. But despite all that, the show has still become the internet’s new favorite punching bag.
Tweets put an end to the show’s attempts to use edgy humor that pokes fun at the culture wars. Parodies to target with his plot lines. Forbes has described the backlash dramatically: showrunner Charlie Grandy, “a frequent collaborator of Kaling’s” and “the son of a former Love boat rigid’, has apparently been ‘accused of being a case of ‘nepotism’, stated a message. As another put it succinctly: “Everyone hates Velma.”
The full truth behind these consequences is, as usual, complicated. Despite the vitriol, people watch the show; according to HBO Max, Velma was his premiere of the greatest animated series ever. The problem is that they look at it through the lens of the entire history of Velma and the Scooby-Doo franchise as a whole.
For a, Velma opted for color blind casting, with the title character now a South Asian woman. To another, this Velma is portrayed as more overtly strange. But while it might be easy to attribute backlash against the show to the usual racism and/or homophobia that often accompanies this sort of thing – and there’s probably still a little bit of that in play here – what’s going on with Velma goes deeper than that.
The biggest complaints about the show don’t seem to be that it addresses issues of diversity in the Mystery Inc. gang, but rather that the show does it in a flat one-note fashion. And when it comes to Velma’s sexuality — something that’s been a topic of discussion in Scooby-Doo discussions for years — any attempt to address the issue needs depth.
For decades, the writers behind the character have hinted through various Scooby-Doo properties that Velma is gay. She was definitely queer coded in her earliest iterations, and James Gunn, who wrote two live-action Scooby-Doo movies in the early 2000s, claimed a few years ago that Velma was “explicitly gay” in his first script in 2001. “But the studio kept watering it down and watering it down, getting ambiguous (the recording of the version), then nothing (the released version), and finally got a boyfriend (the sequel).” During the Pride month in 2020, Tony Cervone, who supervised the producer of the animated series Scooby-Doo! Mystery includedposted a message on Instagram saying his Velma “wasn’t bi. She’s gay.”
But Velma’s sexuality is in Mystery included, which aired from 2010 to 2013, was only alluded to. Then, at the end of last year, in the animated film Trick or Treat Scooby-Doo!, the subtext became text: Velma had a crush on a female villain, and the internet loved it. As The Washington Post reportedan Ontario teen was one of the first to see the confirmation, and her gushing tweet promptly went viral: “OMG LESBIAN VELMA FINALLY CANON CANON IN THE MOVIE LETS GOOOOOO.”