‘Velma’ spinoff divides critics: “Lame jokes, prequelitis, and bad meta”

Early reviews of the show's first run show a stark divide in reception

Velma season one has divided critics as the Scooby-Doo offshoot prepares to make its debut on HBO Max.

Velma has been helmed by creator Charlie Grandy and stars Mindy Kaling as the titular sleuth. Meanwhile, Constance Wu and Ming-Na Wen also star in the adult animated series. The show aims to tell the origin story of Velma Dinkley, the brains of the Scooby-Doo Mystery Inc. gang.

The animated prequel is aimed at a mature audience, but early reviews of the show’s first run show a stark divide in reception. Some have hailed the animated series as comedy success. Other reviews have been wholly negative.


Mindy Kaling Office
Mindy Kaling voices the titular Velma (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images)

In one of the more positive reviews of VelmaInverse, tells viewers that the show is “not what you expect”. The review wraps up, by saying: “Underneath all the jokes and references there could be a companion to the esteemed Harley Quinn on HBO Max’s slate.”

Meanwhile, Entertainment Weekly was withering with its assessment of the show. Going for the jugular from the start, the article begins by summarising Velma as “a promising reinvention” which is “wasted on lame jokes, prequelitis, and bad meta”. Though EW agrees that HBO are trying to capture the same audience as Harley Quinn, its review states that Velma misses its chance.

“Some animated reboots honor their foundation by improving it,” the reviewer writes. “Think Netflix‘s She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, which Tolkienized an ’80s toyline tie-in into a glittery cosmo-queer every-genre-ever saga. Velma settles for winky nods.” It concludes with the summary: “You get the feeling Kaling and Velma showrunner Charlie Grandy could’ve wedged any inoffensive IP into their way-too-late parody of teen dramas. In the words of the philosopher: Ruh-roh.”

On a more positive slant, Discussing Film, hails the show as a “success” in its review. “The writing in Velma is sharp and curt, relying more on cultural awareness than anything else,” it states. “There is enough traditional adult-oriented comedy relying on the characters being cringe or crass to keep audiences captivated, however, the jokes poking fun at the show itself through a feminist lens is where it is at its funniest.”

Consequence opines that “awkward” Velma suffers from a “failure of tone and balance, as “there’s too much jammed into” the series and it has “no clear focus”. However, it does offer some positive if restrained praise, stating: “The animation is bright, poppy, and fun, the cast is game, and some solid gags do emerge from what’s been seen so far. But, even if it could get over its tonal issues in a second season, it’s hard to hope that it’ll have a chance to do so.”


Velma is set to air in the US on HBO Max from January 12. No UK release date has been specified at this point.


You May Like