HBO Max has just announced that it will be teaming up with The Office star Mindy Kaling to bring to the streamer Velma, an animated spin-off from the popular Scooby-Doo cartoon.
The animated series, which has been given a straight-to-series order, comes from an overall deal between Mindy Kaling and Warner Bros. TV that would see Kaling producing multiple original shows for the studio. Mindy Kaling will executive produce the series along with her longtime collaborator Charlie Grandy as well as 3 Arts’ Howard Klein and Sam Register.
The announcement of Mindy Kaling’s Velma comes as part of a larger announcement by HBO Max, who are jumping into the more adult-oriented animated fare. Along with Velma, HBO Max announced they have picked up Fired on Mars, a series starring Pete Davidson, as well as the Season 2 and 3 renewal of Close Enough. “It is a tremendous privilege to build on the 100 year plus legacy of ‘cartoons’ at this company,” said Suzanna Makkos, executive vice president of original comedy and adult animation for HBO Max via Variety. “We can draw a straight line from our hundreds of childhood hours spent watching Bugs outwit Elmer to the current slate of adult animated projects we are building here at HBO Max and we think fans will agree. We are proud to introduce this distinctive group of series from a wide range of diverse creators that will form a first stop destination for animation lovers everywhere.” The more adult-oriented animated programming already includes the most definite adult Harley Quinn as well as the upcoming reboot of The Boondocks, The Prince, Santa, Inc., and 10-Year-Old Tom.
Velma Dinkley has been a part of the Scooby-Doo Mystery, Inc gang since its inception in 1969. Over the years, there have been many versions of the gang, but they have mainly focused on the gang as a whole. With Velma, Mindy Kaling looks to tell an adult-focused origin story of sorts, taking a look at the “bespectacled and underappreciated brain in the Scooby gang.” Along with Kaling executive producing the series, she will also voice the role of Velma.
As this new series will be part of the HBO Max adult-oriented animated slate, the inevitable question needs to be asked: will Mindy Kaling’s Velma be presented as a lesbian or not? The reason for this inevitable question is that over the years, hints of Velma’s sexual preferences have come to light. In fact, James Gunn himself made it perfectly clear that when he wrote the 2002 Scooby-Doo movie, he had penned Velma to be “explicitly gay.” Per his Tweet, Gunn confirmed his intent. “I tried! In 2001 Velma was explicitly gay in my initial script. But the studio just kept watering it down & watering it down, becoming ambiguous (the version shot), then nothing (the released version) & finally having a boyfriend (the sequel).”
At first, Warner Bros. had wanted a raunchy R-rated version of Scooby-Doo, and Gunn and company were headed down that road to include a kiss between Velma and Daphne that was eventually cut from the movie. But after a screening of the movie, the studio backed completely away from an R-rated Scooby-Doo.
HBO Max has not announced a premiere date for Mindy Kaling’s Velma, so we’ll have a while longer before that burning question can be answered.