Mindy Kaling's new animated Velma series will change her background to be of East Asian descent. Many other things will also be different for the Scooby-Doo character.
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A few months ago, it was announced that Mindy Kaling is working on a new Velma series. Yes, the brains behind the operations from Scoody-Doo. The series will be animated, Mindy Kaling will voice the main character, and Kaling will also produce. We haven’t learned a lot more about the series since that announcement, until now. At a recent virtual event, a large amount of information was dropped in only a few short sentences.
WarnerMedia’s Tom Ascheim spoke at the virtual TV Kids Summer Festival 2021. During a 25 minute video, he touched on all manner of things coming to WarnerMedia, whether for HBO Max or Cartoon Network. He touched on many different topics very quickly. In the middle of things, he revealed that My Adventures With Superman, an upcoming animated series, is really more of a romantic comedy. He discussed specific programming as well as topics like inclusion, age-appropriate content, and what goes on Cartoon Network versus family-friendly programming for HBO Max. As he whipped through these topics, he dropped a lot of information about the upcoming Velma series from Mindy Kaling. It would have been a great moment for follow-up questions, but he moves on fairly quickly.
Tom Ascheim said this: “We have a not-for-children, Mindy Kaling project called Velma because she was excited to reimagine what Scooby-Doo would be like if Velma were of East Asian descent and lived in a different world. And in that version, which is going on HBO Max first, there’s no dog and no van but we have our four key characters through a different lens and I think it’s great. Allowing our creators to play with our IP is super powerful.”
This news about Velma hit Twitter hard and fast.
Reactions to this announcement are very mixed. A lot of tweets are focused on the part where the character will be of East Asian descent. Some people are saying that will make her no longer Velma. Some of the tweets mistakenly believe that Mindy Kaling will be playing the character in a live-action production, but all reports have still indicated that while the series is animated, it’s an adult animation series.
Some people have said that it’s the character’s personality that makes her Velma, and the rest doesn’t matter.
Other reactions have strongly suggested many different things. Some people feel that changing her background makes her no longer Velma. Some have suggested that it’s better to create new characters than to reimagine old characters. While WarnerMedia’s Tom Ascheim was particularly excited about having their creators reimagine classic intellectual properties like Superman or Velma, many people on Twitter feel that it looks like a cheap cash grab. As if HBO Max is using the name “Velma” when they should be creating a new character instead of playing off nostalgia for one that they know.
While the note about Velma being of East Asian descent is certainly something to think about, and it is what Twitter is talking about, he dropped a lot of other information in that quote. What does he mean that she lives in a different world? Different from the previous Scooby-Doo iterations, or will ghosts actually be real? Why do the four characters exist but not the dog or the van? Who is Shaggy without Scooby? Why no Scooby? This could be because Scooby would distract from Velma, since he’s typically such a central part of the show. It’s been said previously that this new series is a prequel. It’s unclear what exactly her character will be up to.
It’s interesting that they’ve decided to keep Velma, but not have the “dog or the van”, since Scooby and the Mystery Van are two of the most recognizable parts of the Scooby-Doo brand in other iterations. While Tom Ascheim may have felt that he was giving us more information about what to expect from this series, all he really did was raise a lot more questions. Unfortunately, we have no idea when those answers may come. There is currently no release date scheduled for the HBO Max series, though they are working on it. We’ll be sure to update as soon as they do.