Mindy Kaling’s new “Velma” series will portray the character as a girl of East Asian descent, and the upcoming HBO Max show won’t include either talking Great Dane Scooby Doo or the Mystery Machine.
WanerMedia’s Tom Ascheim, president of Warner Bros. Global Kids, Young Adults and Classics, revealed the details about the new series on Thursday, adding that the animated show is meant for adults and not children.
“Not for children, but we have a Mindy Kaling project called ‘Velma’ because she was excited to re-imagine what Scooby-Doo would be like if Velma were of East Asian descent and lived in a different world,” Ascheim said Thursday at the TV Kids Summer Festival.
Like her new character, Kaling is of Asian descent, as her parents are from India. Kaling herself will voice Velma in her prequel spin-off of the animated franchise, which will explore the origin story of the amateur detective and member of the Mystery Inc. gang.
Mindy Kaling's 'VELMA' series will reimagine the character as having East Asian descent and living in a different world.
— Cartoon Crave (@thecartooncrave) June 8, 2021
“There’s no dog, and there’s no van, but we have our four key characters through a different lens,” Ascheim added, referring to the four main Scooby Doo characters, Velma Dinkley, Fred Jones, Daphne Blake, and Shaggy Rogers.
“And I think it’s great. So allowing our creators to play with our IP is super powerful,” he said.
The changes to the beloved, bespectacled character prompted raised eyebrows from some Scooby Doo fans on Twitter, who expressed skepticism about whether Kaling’s Velma could really be counted as the same character. The hashtag #NotMyVelma quickly cropped up among fans tweeting their disapproval.
“Well she’s not Velma then is she,” wrote one Twitter user, adding sardonically, “Gonna make a tv show about Luke Skywalker, except it’s inspired by sex in the city and actually about a woman living in ancient Greece and call it a ‘different interpretation’ of the character.”
“As an east asian myself, i think this is just woke-washing and unnessary. Moreover, i find it offensive that asians are always protrayed as nerdy. This is not ok. Wokeism has taken another L here. #notmyvelma,” one user tweeted.
“Why even make it a Velma series? Just make a new character?” wrote another.
Some on Twitter pointed out that Velma has already been played by an actress with Asian ancestry. Hayley Kiyoko, who is part-Japanese, tackled the role in the Scooby-Doo TV movies “The Mystery Begins” in 2009 and the following year’s “Curse of the Lake Monster.”
HBO Max announced in February that “Velma” was awarded a 10-episode order.
Around the time of the announcement, Kaling clapped back at a Twitter user who complained in a now-deleted tweet about her voicing Velma herself.
“Starring Mindy Kaling?” the tweeter reportedly wrote in response to the news along with a gif from “The Office” of Michael Scott yelling “No!”
“I wrote the episode of The Office this gif is from,” Kaling responded in a tweet.
The original Scooby-Doo series debuted on CBS as a Saturday morning cartoon in 1969.