Zoinks! Audiences are casually ripping ‘Velma’ to shreds, and not just because Shaggy’s a stoner

Shaggy from the HBO Velma show
Image via HBO

Well, folks. Velma just dropped its first two episodes, but as we might have expected from the teaser and trailer, we’re not in Kansas anymore — and this isn’t the Mystery Inc. that we’re used to. When Velma was initially announced, this might have been refreshing to hear, but now that we’re getting a real look at HBO’s hazardous portrayals of Hanna-Barbera’s beloved characters, our hopes for new Scooby-Doo content are all but dashed. Don’t be fooled by Velma‘s 60% score on Rotten Tomatoes; fans aren’t pleased at all, which couldn’t be more obvious from the 18% audience score that rose slightly from a previous 14%.

From the get-go, HBO made it glaringly obvious that Velma would be strikingly different from the kid-friendly Scooby-Doo gang that we’ve come to know. Marketed as an adult animated comedy, Velma dares to reinvent Mystery Inc. for a fresh audience, taking risks left and right to bring something new to the table. We won’t delve too far into the controversy surrounding that choice, but it’s clear that HBO is using Velma as a springboard for Kaling to self-insert into the Scooby-Doo franchise.

That isn’t the only decision receiving backlash from Velma haters and Scooby-Doo defenders alike. There have been implications since Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! premiered in 1969 that Norville “Shaggy” Rogers is a drug user, but since Scooby-Doo is largely marketed towards children, those insinuations are left to the adult’s imagination. There are plenty of those little tidbits throughout the Scooby-Doo franchise, all suggesting one thing or another about Mystery Inc. that’s for adult eyes only. Velma, however, stamps out all those whispers and addresses the fact that Shaggy is an addict without sugarcoating the sensitive details. He uses drugs, enjoys them, and doesn’t care.

Needless to say, there’s more to be discussed here, but that’s for another story. Velma has been making the rounds on social media for all the wrong reasons, as Scooby-Doo fanatics find fault in HBO’s poor judgment, claiming that a children’s show has been ruined by the senseless lack of care taken when introducing these characters to a modern-day audience.

Are these opinions wrong? No. Does everyone agree with them? No. That’s the beauty of opinions; everyone has them. That being said, when the majority seems to share the same one, it’s time to throw in the towel and admit that Velma might have looked great on paper, but its perceived ugliness has certainly cracked a few mirrors.