With Halloween just around the corner, the creatives behind HBO Max’s Velma brought the spooky to New York Comic Con. The Beat recently had the opportunity to take part in a press conference featuring Velma voice actress/executive producer Mindy Kaling and Charlie Grandy, who serves as one of the show’s showrunner/executive producer. Here, the two unmasked the show’s more adult take on the Scooby-Doo universe.
The outlet Nerds&Beyond first asked Kaling about how, throughout her work, she’s brought South Asian culture to her various roles over the years, and how she was going to bring that to her role as Velma, beyond the character’s physicality. In response, Kaling mentioned how she loves the opportunity to have representation of modern Indian American teens, saying that it’s also something that’s a part of some of her other projects. “I knew that I was going to do the voice, and it’s animation – the possibilities animation are so big. It’s like, ‘Well, why not make the character Indian, you know?’ We’ve been so inspired by Into the Spider-Verse and seeing these other characters that can embody the spirit of these iconic franchises. [We were] like, ‘Well, why don’t we try that?’ We love Scooby-Doo so much, and we’re going to honor it,”
When asked if Velma was ever considered to be more child-friendly Grandy told press the creatives always wanted to do the show as adult-oriented. “I loved Scooby-Doo as a kid,” he said. “But it also scared me. I was scared very easily. [With Velma,] I was interested taking the comedy and the humor of the original and sort of adapting it for older [auidences]. Trying to make it [have] harder jokes, and scarier, as well.” Kaling added, “We thought this was a really interesting, fun, way to make a different choice [that was] worth doing because it hadn’t been done before.”
With this nature of Velma, the creatives are aiming to make a series that’s a lot more spooky than Scooby-Doo. However, scares won’t be the show’s only focus. Kaling mentioned it will also tackle what teens go through in modern high school life. “I come from that tradition with some of my other shows and that was really interesting to me. Like what do girls deal with? [The show] deals with popularity, being an outsider – the cast comes from very different socioeconomic backgrounds so what does that look like now? And that’s something that we can kind of only tackle in an adult show [and somthing that] seemed interesting and rich.”
Speaking to the more intense type of the crimes Velma will be confronting in her show, Grandy said it steamed from a question he had about the original Scooby-Doo series. “Every week in the original [the Scooby-Doo characters] are chased by, seemingly monsters but criminals. It feels like their life is in danger every single week, and yet they keep doing it, and it’s seemingly for free,” he said prompting laughter from the room. “What did they go through in high school that was so bad? That push them to want to do that? So, we really kind of amped up the suspense and fear level of the crimes that are investigated.”
With Velma acting as a prequel piece, Grandy later commented that exploring how Velma becomes the person she is in the Scooby-Doo series was an appealing aspect of the project. In a panel later that day it was revealed that the series won’t just be featuring the origins of just its central character. It will also include Fred (Glenn Howerton), Daphne (Constance Wu), and Shaggy (Sam Richardson) as well.
“I mean the fun of the show is taking the iconic pieces – either the sayings, the sweater, or whatnot, and trying to give origins to all of those [things that are the iconic] pieces of Scooby-Doo and imbue them with meaning. Why does Velma say ‘Jinkies?’ That’s a big thing that we wanted to lean into, and we do the same with all the characters.”
In a recent Scooby-Doo movie, Trick or Treat Scooby-Doo!, it was confirmed that Velma is gay, with the character having a female love interest. When asked by The Beat’s own reporter Taimur Dar if Velma’s romantic plotlines will feature other LGBTQ+ characters Kaling and Grandy teased as much as they could without spoiling the series.
“Self-discovery is a really big part of this series, and one of the biggest appeals to Charlie and I about doing this is when we started working on the show and Charlie started writing the first script,” said Kaling. “We don’t want to ignore it. She’s an icon for young gay women and I think that’s really interesting to us her figuring it out is a big part of the show and why it’s really fun to do.”
You can watch Velma when it premieres on HBO Max sometime in 2023!