Jinkies! Mindy Kaling’s latest project is a reimagining of an iconic cartoon show — and not everyone is on board with that. HBO Max just announced the development of a new adult cartoon series called “Velma.” Based on the well-known “Scooby-Doo” character, “Velma” will star Kaling as the familiar orange turtleneck-wearing sleuth. The president of Warner Bros. Global Kids, Young Adults, and Classics, which will produce the show, said that Kaling is “excited to reimagine what Scooby-Doo would be like if Velma were of East Asian descent and lived in a different world” (via The Mary Sue).
For audiences who grew up with the lovable (and all-white) crimefighting gang, the idea of adding diversity to the mix didn’t sit well with some. The Mary Sue reported that plenty of “internet trolls” vented on social media about the change in Velma’s race. Others griped that it seemed contrived to throw a new identity on a familiar character. “Stop the race swapping,” objected one tweet. “All it does is divide the fandom and cater to a certain audience.” Another Twitter user asked, “[W]hy call her Velma if you are making another character?”
Among the supporters were trivia fans who pointed out that the actress Hayley Kiyoko, who’s half-Japanese (via Teen Vogue), played Velma in the Cartoon Network movie “Scooby-Doo! The Mystery Begins” (via IMDb). Others were just psyched to see Kaling (of “The Office” fame) attached to the series. One follower tweeted, “sorry, Mindy Kaling’s VELMA SERIES? here for it.”
Some Scooby-Doo fans are outraged for other reasons
“Velma’s” title character isn’t the only thing that’s got animation fans riled, though. In Mindy Kaling’s reimaging, the “different world” that Velma Dinkley inhabits apparently has “no dog [and] no van,” per AV Club. In other words, it’s “Scooby-Doo” without Scoob himself (Scrappy-Doo probably gets ignored, too), and no Mystery Machine. So it’s conceivable that the new ‘toon has nothing to do with solving mysteries at all. Or, if it does, then those mysteries probably won’t involve abandoned amusement parks, holographic ghosts, and villains in masks ranting about the “meddling kids” who foiled their plans. (Ruh-roh!)
Lots of Scooby fans are protesting: Why make a new show at all if it’s going to remove the heart of the ’70s Saturday morning cartoon that started it all? Referencing another popular cartoon, a Twitter fan joked, “Looking forward to the new Johnny Bravo series [where] he is changed to [an] elderly Indian woman in the year 1987 in an alternate history [where] there is a third World War.”
Other Mystery Inc. fans are keeping a more open mind, but hoping that some things about Velma will stay the same in this new incarnation — such as her lovable nerdiness, her intelligence, and her subtle LGBTQ+ vibe.
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