Spoiler alert: it’s not.
Gen Xers like myself are sick and tired of the later generations coming along and mining our classics to turn them into vulgar, edgy, (wannabe) irreverent new shows. I mean, did we need an updated version of Archie in Riverdale with murders, promiscuity and angst? The Harley Quinn from the old 90s Batman show and the recent Justice League Action was quirky and fun, but what if she swore a lot and we added copious amounts of blood, vomit and viscera? Ish. There is no shortage of TV and movies featuring people being horrible to each other; why ya gotta turn classic, mostly-wholesome Comics Code-approved characters into ruffians?
And now they are starting in on the supporting characters. Wednesday Addams was cute, but does she need her own series? And was anyone curious about the origin of Bruce Wayne’s butler, Alfred Pennyworth? And just who among us was sitting around and thinking, “y’know, Scooby Doo is great and all, but why hasn’t anyone delved deeper into what Velma’s all about?
Scoob! came out in 2020 and, while it wasn’t a cinematic masterpiece it was an okay way to spend an hour and a half with the Scooby gang with updated animation and humor. Granted, for every joke that landed there were about five that didn’t, but at least it made an honest attempt to stay true to the heritage of the Scooby-Doo brand.
I mean, we were fine with Velma’s role in the Scoobyverse. Through the umpteen different variations of Scooby (Scrappy, hanging out with Don Knotts and the Harlem Globetrotters, WWE Wrestlers, Jimmy Hoffa, et al.) we were perfectly okay with what we knew about Velma: She’s smart, possibly bisexual, can’t see a thing without her glasses, gave us the word “jinkies,” etc. This version of Velma is pretty much overblown fanfiction and a self-insert for the series creator and voice of Velma, Mindy Kaling.
We already had a Mindy voicing Velma, and we liked her.
My previous experience with Mindy Kaling was when she played the annoying chick on The Office who wasn’t Angela Kinsey or Kate Flannery, then she had some show on FOX for about five minutes. Apparently, she wrote or co-wrote a bunch of Office episodes and having that on her resumé must have been enough for WB to greenlight this series.
And if you thought the She-Hulk TV show hated men, you were right. But this show also hates them. Every male character is either a hapless loser, like Velma’s dad, a groveling simp, like Norville, or a narcissistic manchild, like Fred. And for reasons probably unknown to everyone (including the show’s creators), Norville is madly in love with Velma. Daphne (Who’s Asian-American. And adopted. And a drug dealer) blackmails Velma, who then goes to Norville for the money, and he decides the best way to get quick dough is to sell one of his kidneys. Y’know, as one does.
As for the race/gender swapping? Listen, I’ve been a Black guy basically all my life, and of course, I can’t speak for all people of color, but I, nor anybody I considered childhood friends, never gave half a crap that Fred, Velma, Daphne and Shaggy were White kids; we watched the hell out of Scooby Doo Where Are You? because it was fun and funny. Nick Fury is played by a Black actor? Okay. Does he do a good job portraying the character? Yep. Let’s move on. Barry Allen’s wife in the Flash comics was White, but on the TV show she’s Black . Okay. Is her race a main issue in the show? No, she just happens to be Black; maybe the actor had a good audition and the showrunners didn’t give a crap about her race, because the character she plays is fictional. Okay. Is the show any good? Yes. Okay, let’s move on. Velma, like her show’s creator and voice artist, is Indian-American now. Okay? Is her race a main issue in the show? Yes, but pretty much only to her. Okay. Is the show any good? No.
If you want to create a nonwhite character who’s self-righteous, fake woke and throroughly unlikeable, then do it; go off and make your mediocre cartoon with its half-hearted attempt at being edgy that people will forget about soon enough. You can even name her “Amlev” if you want. Leave our classics alone. Velma deserved better than this. Zero out of five stars.