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HBO have reimagined Velma from ‘Scooby Doo’ as a South Asian hero

Velma, the upcoming Scooby-Doo spinoff from Mindy Kaling, will reimagine the titular character as a South Asian crimefighter. Unsurprisingly, keyboard warriors have begun bickering.

Velma always had a lot going for her. In the original Scooby-Doo series, and subsequent films, she was portrayed as the brains of the famed crimefighting gang. Softly spoken, curious, nerdy, and subtly sexy, she became a hero to those who often felt looked-over.

It’s no coincidence then that she became something of an icon to various minority communities. People related to a character that, despite their obvious talents, had to try doubly hard to get half the recognition of her more conventionally attractive colleagues.

velma scooby doo
Image: Scooby-Doo Where Are You / Hanna-Barbera Productions

Mindy Kaling (The Office) apparently also feels a connection to the Velma character. When given the opportunity to the reimagine her for a modern audience, Kaling decided to lean into the groups that felt the greatest affinity for the character. And honestly, why not?

If you clicked on this article hoping for a takedown, then I’d advise you to look elsewhere. Reimagining characters, and changing ‘integral’ parts of their identity doesn’t bother us in the slightest. It’s not a recent trend, or example of ‘woke’ society, either. Theatre and entertainment companies have messed with the race and gender of characters since before Shakespeare told his mate to put on a dress.

Kaling turning Velma into a South Asian character is absolutely fine. What’s unsavoury about the whole situation is that the current big-wigs in Hollywood see original content, and characters, as an unnecessary risk.

I don’t think for a second Mindy Kaling would have rejected a proposal to work on an original show about an intelligent, attractive, and brave South Asian crimefighter. Unfortunately though, Hollywood don’t appear to be interested in telling that story…unless it relates to something as marketable and established as Scooby-Doo.

And here we find ourselves. A Velma inspired show is too risky. A straight-up Velma show is too passé. And yet, by taking aim at two birds with one stone, the folks at HBO Max wrote the cheque.

It isn’t wrong that the upcoming Velma show has changed its lead character to appeal to fans. It’s sad that we aren’t getting original material that would appeal to the groups that were initially drawn to Velma; because that’s what real progress in the entertainment industry would look like.

mindy kaling velma
Image: Mindy Kaling in The Office / NBC

The other sad truth is that if that hypothetical show were to be greenlit the vast majority of the media wouldn’t be talking about it. Which speaks to the other side of this problem: outrage and controversy sell. So until people stop caring about shit like this, Hollywood are going to keep on doing it.

Currently, there is no release date for Velma. It will stream on HBO Max.