Mindy Kaling to Star in the Scooby-Doo Prequel ‘Velma’

Mystery Inc. would be nothing without the brains of the operation: the token loveable nerd, Velma. Unlike Velma, you don’t need to find your glasses to see the charm of her character. Finally, the minds behind HBOMax have deemed her worthy of her own spinoff show! The gaggle of amateur sleuths over at Mystery Inc. have Velma’s quick wit and clue-finding to thank for their success in solving mysteries. With Mindy Kaling officially stepping into her shoes for this show’s portrayal, Kaling and producers alike are ecstatic to animate the brainiac’s origin story and show the world a Velma like it’s never seen before.

With HBOMax onboarding Kaling as the executive producer and voice of Velma, they aim to put comedic twists to the “unsung and underappreciated brains” of the “Scooby-Doo” universe. “Velma” is set to be an animated adult comedy series that explores the “complex and colorful past of one of America’s most beloved mystery-solvers.” One surprising thing to note is that a majority of the original gang will be left out of the show altogether. Though distinct details of the plot have yet to be unmasked at this time, the only known major change to the character is her being reimagined as East Asian, aligning with Kaling’s own heritage.

Mindy Lahiri (Mindy Kaling), Jordin Althaus/Universal Television

Naturally, no decisions are met without controversy and despite the overwhelmingly positive response to the announcement of the spinoff, many fans were less than pleased at the news of her portrayal as East Asian. Velma has traditionally been portrayed as Caucasian with short auburn hair and freckles, but producers feel for a modern, more colorful take on someone who is now going to be explored through more complex avenues, this sort of twist and reinvention is not only necessary, but shouldn’t really come as such a shock. Responding to the criticism, Kaling has stated she couldn’t understand why people feel “a really smart, nerdy girl with terrible eyesight who loved to solve mysteries, could not be Indian. There are Indian nerds. It shouldn’t be a surprise to people.” The largest uproar comes in the form of this reinvention being “not Velma,” despite no other aspect of the character being compromised from the original portrayal. If anything, this series will expand and embolden Velma Dinkley. Despite Kaling as the head of this series growing disheartened at this small, but aggravated percentage of people expressing discontent, she sees this as an opportunity to have a new take on the character and create a life of adventure for her that all her fans will love.

In an ever-changing world, it should seem unlikely that a 50-year-old animated character would remain in the consistently conventional and closed-minded light in which she was conceived. Not to mention, this isn’t the first instance of Velma’s heritage straying from the original, white-washed animation. Both Hayley Kiyoko and Gina Rodriguez, of Japanese and Latinx descent, respectively, have portrayed the character. Nonetheless, Kaling’s knack for well-rounded comedy is something she’s confident will diminish the potential “model minority” hole Velma could fall into, creating an exciting and unexpected backstory for the clue-finding queen. 

The grown-up geared animated prequel, “Velma,” will be headed to HBOMax at an undisclosed later date.

By Elisabeth Hudak

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