Mindy Kaling and the cast of 'Velma' address critics who are angry that the titular character is South Asian and explain the absence of Scooby
- The cast and crew of HBO Max's upcoming animated show "Velma" appeared at New York Comic Con on Thursday.
- Mindy Kaling said she was "a little bit surprised" by the backlash to Velma being South Asian.
Mindy Kaling and the stars of "Velma" attended the first day of New York Comic Con to spill details about HBO Max's upcoming adult animated show and unveil the first episode exclusively for fans at the Main Stage.
Insider was in attendance at the panel on Thursday, which was moderated by TV Guide's Damian Holbrook.
Kaling, the voice of Velma and executive producer, was joined in person by showrunner Charlie Grandy, and Constance Wu (Daphne) to discuss the show. Glenn Howerton and Sam Richardson, who voice Fred and Norville/Shaggy, were unable to attend in person due to commitments to other projects, so they participated via video.
Kaling said that she loved the original "Scooby-Doo" series and the characters, and praised Grandy for creating "an amazing homage to this group, especially this character."
"Growing up, I've always identified with Velma," she said. "She was so cute, but not like traditionally hot — super smart, super thick glasses, questionable haircut. I just love the series and I feel so honored to do the voice."
When moderator Damian Holbrook asked Kaling if she was prepared for the negative reaction and criticism of Velma being South Asian, the "Office" alum said that she's "always constantly surprised by reactions to everything on social media."
"I think of the characters in this as so iconic, but in no way is the gang defined by their whiteness, except for Fred," Kaling said. "So, I was a little bit surprised and I think most Indian-American girls when they see this skeptical, hardworking, kind of underappreciated character, can identify with her. "
The actress went on to praise recent projects like "Spider-Verse," which have "characterizations of beloved characters that are unconventional."
"I think the vast majority of people are excited and ready for it," Kaling said, "and the show is for them."
In addition to being an origin story about Velma, the "Mindy Project" star said that "Velma" will show the character having "unresolved sexual tension with a lot of characters." But when asked about the possibility of a romantic moment between Velma and Daphne, Kaling played coy.
"This journey of self-discovery for her is something that really drew us to this project and this character," she said. "So we want to honor other interpretations and what we think feels really modern."
Grandy also explained the absence of the fifth member of the Scooby-Doo! Mystery Inc. gang — Scooby.
"When we were going into the show and thinking about adapting it, we wanted to be respectful," Grandy said. "We didn't want to just kind of take these beloved characters and put them in outrageous or gross situations and say, 'Isn't it crazy you did that to Velma?'"
Grandy said that when considering what would differentiate a kid's show from an adult series, the iconic dog was the deciding factor.
"We couldn't get a take on it that was like, 'How do we kind of do this in a fun, modern way?'" he said. "That felt like what made it a kid show was, Scooby-Doo."
Outside of creative reasoning, Grandy said that Warner Brothers Animation told them that they didn't have permission to use the dog.
"I think it's nice to kind of allude to dogs in the world," he teased. "It's fun and let's just kinda leave it that.
"Velma" premieres on HBO Max sometime in 2023.
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