Scooby Dooby Doo, where are you? Not in the Velma animated series coming to HBO Max. Executive produced by and starring Mindy Kaling, the adult animated series will shake things up dramatically for the bespectacled member of Mystery Inc., reimagining the character as East Asian, and keeping Scooby-Doo and Shaggy out of the picture altogether.
In February, HBO announced a slew of new adult animated shows, including Velma, an original 10-episode comedy series about the unsung brains of the Mystery Inc. gang, Velma Dinkley, exploring the character’s origins. Described as an “original and humorous spin that unmasks the complex and colorful past of one of America’s most beloved mystery solvers,” Velma is executive produced by Mindy Kaling, who will voice the title character.
We hadn’t heard much of an update for Velma until Thursday at The TV Kids Summer Festival (via The Mary Sue), when Warner Bros. president of Global Kids, Young Adults and Classics, Tom Ascheim, revealed a few more radical new details about the series. Per Ascheim, the series will have “no dog,” and “no van,” and that the character will be of East Asian descent:
“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 4 key characters through a different lens and I think it’s great. Allowing our creators to play with our IP is super powerful.”
Sure! Why Not?
This news is not altogether surprising, considering the series is an origin story, and Kaling, of Indian descent, is voicing the title character. Put two and two together, and you’ve got exactly what Ascheim describes: a series about an Asian Velma before she joins the Mystery Inc., gang. But as is fated to happen to any show that reimagines a beloved property with a more diverse cast, there will be inevitable blowback to this decision. However, Scooby-Doo has been around for over 50 years, and Velma has been unappreciated for nearly as many, so perhaps it’s time to see the character get a bit of a makeover (though in a bit of a different direction than the one Linda Cardellini got in the live-action Scooby-Doo movies).
Besides, this is not the first time the character has been portrayed as Asian — Hayley Kiyoko played Velma in the live-action made-for-TV movie Scooby-Doo! The Mystery Begins in 2009.
Charlie Grandy, Howard Klein and Sam Register also serve as executive producers for Velma, which is produced by Warner Bros. Animation.
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