“Velma,” a spin-off of the Scooby Doo universe in adult animation format, premiered on HBO Max to a mostly negative reception on Jan. 12.
The show stars executive producer Mindy Kaling as the voice of character Velma Dinkley, the smartest member of the amateur crime-solving group Mystery Inc. The star-studded cast includes Constance Wu as Daphne, Sam Richardson as Shaggy, and Glenn Howerton as Fred.
Serving as an alternate universe origin story for Mystery Inc., the series marks the first time in the history of the franchise to not feature the Scooby-Doo character. The show primarily focuses on Velma Dinkley as she “tries to solve a mystery regarding the disappearance of her mother, as well as the numerous murders of local teenage girls.”
The modern take on the beloved animated franchise has been panned by both critics and general audiences alike.
As of this writing, the show’s audience score on Rotten Tomatoes sits at an abysmal 7 percent, while the critics’ score has stagnated with a 55 percent rating.
Huffington Post’s Candice Frederick praised the show’s writing, while acknowledging its flaws: “Teen and genre lore is so seeped into each line of dialogue in “Velma” that it’s impossible not to enjoy it in spite of its shortcoming.”
AV Club’s Saloni Gajjar similarly found enjoyment in the show, praising it for its “well-structured narrative with jokes, suspense, interconnected plotlines, and evolving relationships instead of a case-of-the-week format and various monster antics.”
Meanwhile, Entertainment Weekly’s Darren Franich thought that Velma was a wasted opportunity as it “mostly replaces the old silly sensibility with crass name-droppy pointlessness.”
CNN’s Brian Lowry also found the writing lacking, calling the show “sporadically witty but ultimately rather tedious.”
The Rotten Tomatoes user review page contained mostly scathing comments, with many stating that watching the show is a waste of time.
“One of the worst tv shows I’ve ever watched,” a user wrote.
“Forget the race and sexuality swaps, Mindy needs to learn that GROSS ≠ FUNNY,” another commented. “Dragonball Evolution has been dethroned.”
“Love the original.” wrote one fan. “Love this take. Sure – it is not Scooby Doo as we know it – but an exceptional modern take on a classic.”
“Quirky, Clever and campy,” said the other positive comment. “Reminds me a bit like scream queens humor.”
Kaling herself faced criticism for her portrayal of Velma, with many Twitter users pointing out a recurring theme in her shows featuring the “loser Indian girl” stereotype.
I’m happy Mindy Kaling’s style of writing brown girls that hate themselves wasn’t around when I was younger & only became a thing when I was at the age where I loved my heritage and skin color. I can’t imagine being young & already self conscious and then seeing that portrayal.
— sai (@Saisailu97) January 14, 2023
mindy kaling needs to stop portraying indian girls as losers. i’m personally extremely cool and sick of it
— A (@unemployedvirgo) January 13, 2023
@sadgirlreflections first devi then bela then velma let me just assure young brown girls that you are not losers #desitiktok #southasian #browntiktok #desi #brown #mindykaling #browngirl #indian #neverhaveiever #slocg #devivishwakumar #belamalhotra #velma #mindykalingshows #greenscreenvideo ♬ Escapism. – Super Sped Up – RAYE
“Velma” became HBO Max’s most-watched animated series debut ever after its first two episodes premiered on the platform on Jan. 12, reported MovieWeb.
Kaling confirmed the news in a tweet that also thanked viewers for watching the show.
Thank you everyone for watching! 🎉 @hbomax @velmatheseries pic.twitter.com/QoZ6AIiPtB
— Mindy Kaling (@mindykaling) January 14, 2023