Was HBOMax’s Velma A Deliberate, Calculated Flop

Phaylen Fairchild
5 min readJan 23

Did you watch Velma?

I wanted to love it. It’d be nearly impossible not to, theoretically; It takes One of the most iconic figures in animation, a strong independent woman, and postures itself as her origin story. Except no one expected her to be such a villain.

Here’s the truth. It’s really awful. That’s not bandwagon jumping… it’s as bad as you’ve heard. But there’s a lot more to the story, and people have used the terrible show to go on racist rants (“Why is Shaggy black!?”) and attacks on Executive Producer Mindy Kaling, an Indian woman, who unquestionably self-inserted her own identity into the classic character, quirks and all- quirks that we’ve seen before where Kaling has copied and pasted her personality and insecurities into every single character she’s played across three series so far; The Mindy Project, The Sex Life of College Girls, and Never Have I Ever, all where she employs her own angsty, offensive south asian tropes.

It’s really disappointing that when we have a valid critique, genuine feedback gets absolutely lost in the vitriolic groundswell of conservatives screaming about wokeness. The show isn’t “Woke” for showcasing non-white characters. The show isn’t “woke” for portraying the diversity of the world as it is instead of fantasizing a world where only white people exist. Its just bad, and not because of elements the extreme right-wing bigots would like to blame, it’s bad because sometimes even the most brilliant minds misfire. It’s bad because sometimes, a writer self inserts into their stories to better relate to the circumstances, but where Mindy Kaling and her writers went wrong was self inserting her as a already established legacy character that shares nothing canonically in common with her.

To put it bluntly, Velma is a bitch. She extremely cruel. She’s bitter, spiteful, hostile and at the same time, and for no good reason, hates herself, full of insecurity and self deprecating statements. Velma, historically, was a brilliant mind, she had a conscience, and her desire was to catch bad guys and make the world that she and her friends inhabited more safe. They were proud to be a thorn in the side of evil-doers, shouting “Those meddling kids!” Now she’s become a meta riffing curmudgeon sniping right-wing talking points for laughs…

Phaylen Fairchild

Actor, Filmmaker, LGBTQ+ & Women’s Rights Activist All work copyright phaylens@gmail.com