The mature Scooby Doo spinoff Velma handles the racist criticism levelled at the show with the ideal satiric retort soon after its debut. As soon as it was revealed, the new HBO Max animated series garnered criticism, with much of it focused on the show’s use of race-blind casting and the diversification of the original Scooby Doo cast. Instead of avoiding the subject, Velma addresses the dispute head-on.
Since numerous Scooby Doo films have already explored a darker perspective on the iconic cartoons, the basic idea of Velma as an R-rated Scooby Doo spinoff has been criticised as a terrible idea. However, the most of the criticism about Velma has been directed at the choice to use color-blind casting, which resulted in the presentation of a South Asian Velma Dinkley intended to resemble her voice actress, Mindy Kaling. Similar criticism was levelled at the film Scoob! when Gina Rodriguez was cast as a Latina Velma Dinkley. Critics criticised the decision to change the race of a well-known character rather than reflecting diversity by creating a new character.
How the show handles the racist criticism?
The Velma show controversy is addressed head-on in the premiere’s opening scene, when Velma asks her friend Daphne Blake (Constance Wu) about race-blind casting in the midst of a conversation about TV series. As an Asian woman who values seeing more varied ensembles, Daphne surprises Velma with her nuanced response, noting that while it is “a complex issue,” many who complain about color-blind casting “enjoy it when white people play Jesus.” This exposes the hypocrisy of many colorblind casting sceptics, who defend Hamilton by citing historical accuracy while applauding The Passion of the Christ.
Beyond satirising racist haters, Velma’s colorblind casting contributes much to the show’s humour. In addition to providing an R-rated spin on Scooby Doo, Velma serves as a scathing parody of shows like The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, which also have diverse casts and give dark takes on traditional children’s entertainment. With Daphne and her gang of cruel girls talking about the kiss between Betty and Veronica that merely helped to captivate spectators with the promise of more lesbian erotica, the Velma pilot singles out Riverdale in this regard. Ironically, they are talking while taking a shower in the locker room for girls.
Many elements of Velma have been altered from the original source material to make it a more mature interpretation of the franchise. Despite the fact that Velma also has a South Asian Velma and an Asian Daphne, their personas are still recognisable parodies of their original manifestations and distinct personalities. In the end, despite the criticism it garnered for being racist, Velma still very clearly contains the Scooby Doo gang and carries the spirit of the brand in new and fascinating directions.