What’s New, Scooby-Doo? What’d “Velma” Do With You??



Luz Analitis, Writer

…We’ve got to solve that mystery. The mystery is, why did the new TV show, “Velma,” change and rewrite its characters so poorly?  


The new adult animated TV show “Velma” has definitely got my mind working overtime trying to formulate opinions on the choices they made for the show. In this article, I’ll be specifically talking about my thoughts on the changes made to the main characters of the show.


“Velma” has been quite a hot topic ever since it was announced, especially because of the changes it has made to the Mystery Inc. gang. I’d like to start by addressing the obvious changes that have caused quite a stir online. “Velma” notably altered the races, ethnicities and sexualities of most of the crew: Velma is Indian and seemingly bisexual, Daphne is Asian and also seemingly bisexual, Norville (Shaggy) is of mixed race with an African-American mom and a white dad, but Fred is still white and heterosexual.


I do not have an inherent distaste for these changes. I think diversity and greater representation are so important in the media. It is something that we are starting to see a bit more of, and I do not  think it will or should stop anytime soon. I do think it is much better when shows and movies come up with original characters that positively represent diverse, main protagonists, but I guess I can see how easy and useful it is to portray diversity in already established and loved characters. In this case, it was of course done with the classic Scooby-Doo gang, and on a surface level, I really do not mind it.


The changes that I do mind, however, are the strange personality choices that they made for each character, which I will discuss for each one. The only character that I also believe needs more discussion about the portrayal of their ethnicity is Velma, as I think it was done in quite a damaging way. With all this said now, let’s just dive right into it.

We will begin with the title character, Velma. Originally, and in most adaptations of Velma, she represents the brains of the operation for the Mystery Inc. team. She is super intelligent, inquisitive, witty, a bit sarcastic and a little clumsy for always losing her glasses, but is an all-around kind and loveable character. The show “Velma” somehow took all those great qualities of her character, and made her extremely unlikeable. In this adaptation, she maintains the intelligence that she is known for, but all other likable attributes are lost on her. In this show, she comes off as a complete know-it-all with a better-than-thou attitude. At the same time, however, she’s super insecure and seems to take out that insecurity on everyone else in the show. Honestly, at times, she comes off as a sort of toxic mean girl, which is nothing like the Velma we know and love.  


Again, I can appreciate that they chose to have the main protagonist of the show represent South Asian and Indian people. They had a huge opportunity to portray her as empowering for her culture, but unfortunately, the writers for her character did not do that. She uses a lot of self-deprecating humor and oftentimes straight-up bashes on her own culture. At the same time, characters that interact with her also perpetuate stereotypes in such a harmful way. These stereotypes seemed very central to her character, and I found them to be extremely distasteful. Maybe they did this to try to humorously point out the awfulness of the prejudices and bullying that South Asian and Indian people are faced with to make a point on how ridiculous they are, but it doesn’t come off that way at all. It’s just plain offensive without any value to it. Honestly, one way I can put it is that it feels icky to watch.


Since I am not of South Asian or Indian origin, I found it of great importance to hear the opinions of those who are a part of this ethnicity and culture. I’ve watched multiple videos of mostly Indian women discussing their thoughts on Velma’s character and representation. For reference; @shiv.alry, @angelixx4, @spudblendr, and @movieswithriddhi on TikTok, as well as “Velma, In The Eyes Of A South Asian” on YouTube, all give great perspective, analysis, and discussion about this issue. In general, they agree that Velma is a horrible portrayal and representation of their people. Instead of being an empowering role model, Velma represents all of the awful stereotypes that are hurtful to them. A lot of the “jokes” about Velma in the show were particularly about physical stereotypes, and when I say a lot, I mean A LOT. With there already being so little positive representation of South Asian and Indian characters in TV and movies, it is extremely disappointing to see this opportunity for one being absolutely squandered. I highly recommend checking out some of the content creators I mentioned or seeking out others who are also South Asian or Indian, as they give true perspective and go into much further detail than I can.


   Now…let’s talk about the other main characters. Daphne is usually portrayed as the conventionally pretty fashionista of the team. She always seems to find herself in danger but is proven to be a fighter and pro at hand-to-hand combat in many of her portrayals. I admit I like how in “Velma” the writers kind of twist her “damsel in distress” narrative around, and make it so that she actually loves danger. She is a thrill seeker who isn’t afraid to take risks, and she’s still the fighter we love her for. Similarly to Velma, she also is portrayed as a mean girl in the show. She is a bully at times and uses fighting as a way to “prove she’s not weak” rather than for catching bad guys and empowerment. Overall, she, unfortunately, follows a similar fate in that the writing for her character makes her unlikable, which is such a shame. My opinion remains that Sarah Michelle Gellar is still the best portrayal of Daphne Blake, and I wish they had injected more of that character into this one for the show.


Shaggy goes by the name Norville in Velma, which is his proper first name. In previous adaptations, Shaggy is the goof of the gang. He is also funny, a bit of a scaredy-cat, and somehow always seems to be the one who captures the villain. Arguably, he is the most comedic and well-loved character of the Mystery Inc. team (at least in my eyes). Yet somehow, “Velma” managed to take his character and make him the complete opposite of what I’ve just described him as. In the show, he is completely infatuated and in love with Velma, who has pretty much friend-zoned him. But his obsession with Velma seems to be all there is to his character. They turned my guy Shaggy into a SIMP! In my opinion, he’s barely even funny in the show. They made an adult adaptation of Shaggy, and didn’t even make him a stoner! He is  even vehemently anti-drug in the show. I guess this is their way to poke fun at the pop-culture lore that he actually is a stoner, but I only see it as a missed opportunity and really just not humorous. Such a shame and disappointment.


Finally, there is Fred Jones. He is typically portrayed as the level-headed leader and organizer of the group, and he loves to plan and set up traps. Over time his character has evolved to show a bossier and un-self-aware side to him. Despite this, he always maintains an endearing and genuine quality to him. The show “Velma” however decided to make him an awful human being. In this show, he is a raging misogynist, racist, sexist and narcissistic person. One small example of this is that he often ignores Velma in the show or does not even remember who she is because she is “ugly”, and purposely seems to refer to her by different and wrong ethnicities. Fred and his family are also super rich, and he is a total snob who is completely helpless and weak. A running gag in the show is that he doesn’t even know how to cut his own food and must have someone else do it for him. He is seriously portrayed as an all-around terrible person in this show, which I think is a disheartening change to the classic Fred Jones character. There is a lot I could get into with other implications of his character on the show, but I think that requires an in-depth conversation that’s not suitable in this article…


To end with, it is important for me to note one more character change that is in the show “Velma”… SCOOBY-DOO ISN’T EVEN IN IT! My hope is maybe they will show how he joins the team toward the end of the series, but I have a feeling that this is doubtful. I will not even be finishing the series, so I guess I will just have to wait to hear about whether he ever appears or not.


Overall, it is clear that I do not like the writing for each of the characters on “Velma,” as they are a far cry from the iconic and lovable cast of their predecessors. So to answer the question of “What’s New Scooby-Doo?”, the answer is…a lot is new, and “new” is not a good thing in this case.