Scooby-Doo’s lesbian spin-off Velma has hit screens – and the verdict is in: ‘Beautifully chaotic’
HBO’s Velma, created by Charlie Grandy and starring Mindy Kaling, has hit screens to reviews across the board – from the disappointed to the pleasantly surprised.
The adult cartoon follows Velma’s (Kaling) origin story as a 15-year-old high-schooler who overcomes odds with Daphne (Constance Wu), Fred (Glenn Howerton) and Shaggy (Sam Richardson) to help solve a murder.
The trailer teased fraught dynamics between the Scooby gang, questionable jokes and, most importantly of all, a gay Velma.
Although there were suspicions that HBO might try to make Velma straight, despite her being confirmed as a lesbian last year, it seems the show pulls through on giving sufficient sapphic tension.
We even get quippy one-liners, with Velma saying: “In this day and age you can’t speculate about someone’s sexuality. Unless they’re famous or Peppermint Patty.”
However, given how treasured Velma is to Scooby-Doo fans, there have been mixed reviews from critics and fans on social media – giving it a mediocre start.
Paste Magazine praised Kaling for breaking from tradition of having her South Asian lead fall for a white man. “Her jumping-off crush point is Fred, but those feelings for him shift faster than the speed of sound as a sweet and well-developed romance between Velma and her frenemy Daphne is explored,” they wrote.
It seems as though Velma and Daphne shippers will finally get what they have been waiting for as high-school enemies to (maybe) lovers plays out on screen.
Beyond that, Velma gets caught up in a messy love quadrangle as the squad tries to juggle their complicated feelings for one another.
As for how the humour plays out, DiscussingFilm said: “The writing in Velma is sharp and curt, relying more on cultural awareness than anything else.” Adding that there is a nice balance between “cringe and crass” as well as using a “feminist lens.”
And The Guardian agreed it has a nice energy with wit, timely commentary and fast-paced plot describing it as “a supernatural spoof at its most beautifully chaotic”.
On the other hand, Variety reported that the sexuality plot could have been explored in a unique way.
“It’s been done before,” they wrote, pointing to Velma’s queer subtext in Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, “and much better, using unique takes on the gang that maintained their essence, so Velma is never as ground-breaking as it seems to think it is.”
Finally, there was huge praised for the quality of the animation, with one review saying it “takes the cake as one of the most visually striking shows I’ve seen in quite some time”.
Entertainment Weekly claimed that despite making the cast racially and sexually diverse it “should be fun, but it’s a self-aware slog”.
Overall, the sentiment is mixed with The Hollywood Reporter agreeing self-aware humour about current issues and meta observations become tiring by the end of the show.
Many viewers have shared their thoughts online. Some shared they believed Velma should have been unapologetically a lesbian, something the series did not deliver on.
“You know how after decades of effort they finally made Velma canonically a lesbian last year? Well, the new show has her crushing on Fred according to the official Twitter. Everything about this show sucks,” one person wrote.
While others criticised the shallow traits given to our four protagonists: Velma is the disgruntled nerd; Daphne the airhead popular girl; Fred a stuck-up rich kid; and Shaggy a pining loner.
“It’s not the mystery gang. It feels hollow,” one fan wrote, while another added: “Actively making them mean and not liking each other is changing the core of the show.”
As viewers continue to share their thoughts, time will tell which way the verdict will land.
Velma is now streaming on HBO.
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