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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at TAMU chapter.

Mindy Kaling’s newest creation retells Scooby Doo and how the Mystery Incorporated gang came together. The show is told from the perspective of Velma Dinkley, the resident “know it all” of the gang, as she takes credit for putting together “the greatest team of mystery solvers.” However, within a few episodes of the well-named show “Velma,” it is clear that Kaling’s attempt to make a funny, grown-up reboot that brings fresh perspectives to a classic has fallen more than a little short. I pinpointed some critical issues in the show that point to a deeper issue about what truly constitutes representation.

  • Changing a character’s race doesn’t make them a diverse character

The show changes up the character’s races making Velma South Asian, Shaggy African American, and Daphne Asian. However, the inclusion of these diverse perspectives in the show does absolutely nothing to enhance the show’s content. Mindy Kaling said she made Velma an Indian-American teenager because she finds that Indian-American teenagers flock to “skeptical, hardworking, kind of underappreciated characters” and thus Velma should be perfect. I somewhat disagree with the sentiment behind this thought because of how it plays into stereotypes. Is there a reason that South Asian teenagers should only see themselves in nerdy, unconventionally attractive characters? If the last few years of television have taught us anything, it’s that a character’s race can no longer be a barrier in their development nor can it be their sole personality trait. There have been countless well-written South Asian leads from the Sharma sister in Bridgerton to Kamran in Miss Marvel. If Kaling intended to make a show where the Mystery Incorporated crew were more diverse than the original, perhaps she should have expanded on how this added to their character because it feels more like she’s simply trying to check boxes off a diversity checklist.

  • Humor is not just being mean to everyone

For someone who is a comedy writer, many of jokes in the show were borderline if not quite unfunny. It felt as though the writers believed that since they were writing a “dark adult comedy”, they had to make a slew of similar jokes which backfired. People have been complaining that comedy has been falling short as of recently and I think this can be chalked up to the fact that writers have been treating humor like something to put bells and whistles all over and losing sight of how the simplest things can be funny. Scooby-Doo was a comedy at its heart and some of the funniest things were simple bits from the gang’s silly catchphrases to the shenanigans around capturing the weekly monster. Many of the jokes are shock value humor that attempt to be edgy to fit in with what one can assume is the target demographic of the show (late teens and early adults) and they include many jokes that poke fun at the characters, make light out of others struggles, or are just plain terrible and rude in general. For a show with a central comedic element it’s sad that instead of getting a laugh out of you, it makes you cringe internally and hope for more.

  • The show doesn’t even like itself

It’s almost ironic how the show doesn’t even like itself. For an animated show about a beloved classic, it sure is good at taking digs at what its source material is. Their are jokes about animation as a medium which is ironic because the show is not only an animation but Mindy Kaling herself was inspired to make it because of the success of Into the Spiderverse, a known example of well done animation. Besides that, any mentions of classic Scooby Doo are removed entirely save for the names of the characters. There isn’t even a beloved dog to fall back on or anything that would lend itself to thinking that this is an accurate and well done remake of a classic show. This point really hammers home why the show isn’t well received because how can you expect a general audience to enjoy a production that not even the writers, directors, or actors seem to be enjoying. You can’t expect to make fun of the medium you’re using and then also be lauded with praise by enjoyers of that medium. If Velma intends to be a show that advocates for funny, representative humor in a classic show, perhaps it needs to reevaluate its target demographic and its core as a show because as far as one can tell, the only thing its currently representing is the pinnacle of what’s wrong with television remakes currently.

Surmayee Thakur is a freshmen English major at Texas A&M University. Besides a passion for writing anything from lyrics to stories to articles, you can find her listening to music, reading fantasy novels, or singing!