‘Velma’ Season 1 Review- Creatively Bankrupt

Velma is an HBO Max adult animated series that is allegedly a comedy. Running through a grueling ten episodes, it pretends to be a prequel to the stories of Scooby-Doo. It begs the question, who is this for? There could be some minor spoilers in this review.

Velma (Mindy Kaling) is being framed for girls being killed by having their brains removed. She thinks the case has to do with her mother’s disappearance years ago, a memory that gives her horrific villains. She bullies her friend Norville (Sam Richardson) into helping her and suspects popular jock Fred (Glenn Howerton). However, her old friend-turned-mean girl drug dealer Daphne (Constance Wu) could also be involved.

None of the episodes were funny. It is being billed as a “comedy,” but there is no humor. All of the jokes fall totally flat. It goes meta so many times that you’re like, “Yeah, we get it, you think you’re clever. You’re not.” Besides meta, the show relies on gross-out humor, anatomy jokes, bad parodies, racial inferences, and other low-brow forms of comedy. Did they even bother to hire a writer with experience in humor? I doubt it.

When it comes to the characters, they are all unlikeable. In the original Scooby-Doo series, all of the characters had unique personalities and were likable. Fred was the leader and kept morale high. In this show, Fred is a doofus who is only meant to hate on white straight males. Daphne was the personality of the group and while danger prone, she contributed by being the reasonable one. Now she is a mean girl with mommy issues who deals drugs. Shaggy was the cowardly, but resourceful friend. His stand-in Norbit is a loser who lets people push him around. Velma was the brains of the group who always could piece the puzzle together. Not so here. She is a judgmental condescending know-it-all who constantly bullies, abuses, and punishes those closest to her. You never cheer for anyone.

Not to mention, every time Velma, Daphne, or Norville gets a win, it is incredibly unearned. While facing no real-world consequences for being terrible people, they constantly get what they want only because the writers do not understand conflict.

The plots constantly force a conflicting narrative about femininity. I often talk about how Hollywood hates traditional femininity, but this time, their own message gets garbled. Are the mean, pretty girls vapid and shallow or not? Is Velma’s style the true feminine ideal or not? They cannot make up their minds and it changes from episode to episode.

Episode 7 was the worst. Velma disguises herself as a man and all of a sudden everything is easy for her. Has she ever met a man who was not in Hollywood? It was condescending and spiteful, told from the perspective of an elitist who rolls around in money and never had a real job. The fact that this terrible show got made disproves her posturing.

In the final episode, they also kept referring to the Mystery Machine van as a “pedo van.” That’s rich coming from showrunners who constantly show teens in sexualized positions. In the same episode, they have a girl’s shower scene. What a weird thing to put on the original. It was creatively bankrupt and disturbing.

On that note, what was with all of the sexualization of teenagers? While adults are voicing the characters, in the first and last episodes we see naked teen girls in the shower, covered by soap suds or steam, of course. For all of the lecturing people in Hollywood do about the male gaze, they practically shove what they think is “sexy” in your face. It is gross and shameful.

Essentially, the show lacked any creativity or heart. This is due to the absence of Scooby-Doo. Sure, he is mentioned, but reduced to a misspelled science experiment called SCOOBI. It was stupid. Without Scooby, there was NO heart to it. The showrunners claimed that they were fans of Scooby, but I do not think any of them had ever seen a Scooby cartoon. None at all. I think that Mindy Kaling pitched this show to be about herself and HBO turned it down, but she came back with it being a Scooby show and that sold it. That is the only explanation for this terrible show existing.

Check out the trailer below:

PARENTAL CONCERNS: Violence & gore, Sexual content, Strong foul language, Substance abuse

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below. Tell me if there is a comic book, movie, or novel you would like me to review. While you are at it, check out my reviews of The Watcher and Kaleidoscope. Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe for more posts like this one.

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