The new Scooby-Doo series Velma has been a disappointment for fans of the franchise. Nevertheless, Velma voice actress Mindy Kaling insists that the series is faithful to its source material, even calling her character “an icon for young gay women.”
She made the claims about Velma being a gay icon while promoting the series at New York Comic-Con, via Popverse. Before calling her character a gay icon, however, Mindy Kaling stated Velma is a “scary show” and explained why it’s “for adults.” Specifically because they apparently took inspiration from several modern television shows for teenagers.
Here’s what Kaling had to say on that front:
“This is a scary show with murders,” she began. “I think we’ve been inspired with a lot more scary teen shows of late, which is why the show is for adults.”
As for why they chose to change the races for several of the show’s characters, however, she cites Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse as inspiration.
“Why not make the character Indian? We’ve been so inspired by Into the Spider-Verse and seeing these other characters that can embody the spirit of these iconic franchises. Why don’t we try that? We love Scooby-Doo so much, and we’re going to honor it.”
She also discussed the benefits of making Velma, a character she’s always identified with, of Indian descent.
“I love this opportunity I have now to be able to have representation of modern Indian American teens.”
She continued, “There is not a lot of representation of Indian American girls in 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s animation. And so what I loved about that character, she’s the closest to what I can see. Smart, A-student, thick glasses that are always falling off, and skeptical.”
“She has a lot of these amazing qualities, so as a kid watching the reruns of the original Scooby-Doo I felt like, ‘Man I really identify with this character.’ I love that she exists. She’s not like traditionally gorgeous or anything, she just helps the gang because she’s so smart,” Kaling explained.
Showrunner Charlie Grandy also talked about the series. He discussed some of the other elements that made them want to make the show for adults.
“We always wanted to do it as adult animation. And for me, I loved Scooby-Doo as a kid, but it also scared me. I was scared very easily, but I was interested in kind of taking the comedy and the humor of the original, and sort of adapting it for older audiences.”
“We’ve loved what people have done with their own versions of it. We felt this was a really interesting and fun way to make a different choice. And it felt worth doing because that hadn’t been done before.”
At this point, Grandy explain why the other characters had their races changed other than Fred.
“The whiteness of the characters didn’t feel integral to them. Except Fred. Fred just felt like a very white person.”
Kaling added, “Fred had to be white. He’s the whitest character in the history of television.”
Interestingly, as shared via UPI, Grandy apparently said Velma was made Indian so that Kaling could be self-inserted as the character.
“When Mindy came to me and said she wanted to do it, it was because she connected to her because she was this girl who was the smart one who does all of the work and doesn’t get nearly enough credit.”
Though he made another claim that the race swap wasn’t decided until much later in the production:
“It wasn’t until we got much farther down the road where it looked like this [show] might happen that we really started to talk about how the character should look and should they be South Asian. At the time we were like, ‘Why wouldn’t they be in this day and age?’”
She also explained how the series, despite depicting minors, places them in situations that are intended for adults to watch.
“It’s really just the situations that they’re in because it’s geared towards adults. We can be more like – teens who are 15, 16, or 17, what are those sorts of urges, which you couldn’t have in the show that was for younger kids.”
As a result, this is why Mindy Kaling then calls Velma “an icon for young gay women” in the series:
“[Velma’s] self-discovery is a really big part of this series. We don’t want to ignore that she’s an icon for young gay women, and I think that’s really interesting. Her figuring it out is a big part of the show and why it’s really fun to do.”
Furthermore, Kaling notes that Warner Bros was in full support of the series from the beginning.
“Not everyone would necessarily feel comfortable doing this, and we feel so lucky that Warner Brothers Animation was open to this.”
Regarding the show’s future, Grandy teased that additional episodes will attempt to reveal the origins behind the character’s most iconic traits:
“The fun of the show has really been taking the iconic pieces either the sayings or the sweater and trying to give origins to all of those. Imbue them with meaning.”
He explained, “Why does Velma say ‘jinkies’? That’s a big thing that we wanted to lean into. Same with all the characters. We call him Norville in our series. Well, when does he become Shaggy? That’s one of the real appealing things of doing this project.”
Nevertheless, many fans of the Scooby-Doo franchise have expressed their disappointment with the series. As critical ratings for the series continue to plummet, it seems unlikely that viewers will make it far enough to learn these new origins. We’ll just have to see what happens in the coming weeks.
The series features Mindy Kaling as Velma, Sam Richardson as Norville, Constance Wu as Daphne, and Glenn Howerton as Fred. The cast for the series also includes Jane Lynch, Wanda Sykes, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Russell Peters, Melissa Fumero, Stephen Root, Gary Cole, Ming-Na Wen, Ken Leung, Cherry Jones, Frank Welker, Fortune Feimster, Yvonne Orji, Sarayu Blue, Nicole Byer, Shay Mitchell, Debby Ryan, Kulap Vilaysak, and Karl-Anthony Towns.
Stay tuned to ScreenGeek for any additional Velma updates as we have them.