Scooby Dooby Discourse!
Gay Velma, Brown Velma, and the Mystery of the Laid-Off Animators
OK, gang, listen up: Velma is a lesbian. She’s also brown. That’s according to Warner Bros.’ new movie Trick or Treat Scooby-Doo! and HBO Max’s upcoming show Velma, respectively.
After years of hints from creators and speculation from fans, Trick or Treat officially confirms Velma as a lesbian. A main plot point of the new movie revolves around Velma’s unrequited crush on fashion designer Coco Diablo, who designs costumes for villains. There’s never any big “coming out” scene, but the movie is very clear on where it stands on Velma’s sexuality. “Jinkies!” Velma exclaims at the very sight of Coco. She blushes and gets googly-eyed when she interacts with Coco at other points in the movie. At one point, she frantically tells Daphne, “I’m crushing big-time!”
Velma first meets Coco Diablo in “Trick or Treat Scooby-Doo”#Scoobydoohistory pic.twitter.com/TnWGS0B5GK
— Scooby-Doo History (@scoobyhistory) October 4, 2022
Velma has been a queer icon for decades, and several Scooby creators have tried to canonically recognize that in their work, to mixed results.
This time, however, was different: Trick or Treat director Audie Harrison said the Warner Bros. brass was nothing but supportive of the decision, according to NPR. “It never seemed like they were too worried about how it would be perceived. Which was very refreshing,” he said.
That wasn’t always the case. In a now-deleted tweed, Scooby Doo and Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed writer James Gunn said he tried to make Velma gay back in 2001, but Warner Bros. wouldn’t let him.
Tony Cervone, a supervising producer on the “Mystery Incorporated” series, also confirmed Velma’s sexuality offscreen back in a 2020 Pride Month Instagram post.
“We made our intentions as clear as we could ten years ago. Most of our fans got it. To those that didn’t, I suggest you look closer. There’s no new news here,” Cervone wrote at the time.
It was apparently news to the FOX News talk show set, who started in on the typical “won’t someone think of the children?!” schtick as soon as the initial Trick or Treat clips went viral.
Christian author Raymond Arroyo appeared on the Ingraham Angle on Oct. 5 to talk all about how this new Velma deeply offended him, and equivocated Velma’s crush with possible besitality between Scooby and Shaggy:
“This is kind of really offensive on the level that we’re disrupting these beloved characters.. I’m waiting for them to tell us that Scooby and Shaggy shared more than a Scooby Snack” pic.twitter.com/3rcQHTodQw
— Acyn (@Acyn) October 6, 2022
(Of course they shared more than a Scooby snack; like, they probably shared some weed, too. C’mon, Raymond.)
Anyway, aside from the performative outrage on FOX News, it seems like the internet is ecstatic about Lesbian Velma. The same can’t be said about the other Velma project in development.
Elsewhere in the Scoobyverse, HBO Max’s upcoming adult animation show Velma promises to show viewers “the mystery before the inc.” This show will star Mindy Kaling as Velma, Sam Richardson as Norville (Shaggy’s real first name), Constance Wu as Daphne and Glenn Howerton as Fred. It also doesn’t feature Scooby, which should be the real headline here.
“Hopefully you noticed my Velma is South Asian,” Kaling said said at the Warner Bros. Discovery Upfront presentation. “If people freak out about that, I don’t care. … Nobody ever complained about a talking dog solving mysteries, so I don’t think they’ll be upset over a brown Velma.”
It would seem that people are not angry that this version of Velma is brown; they’re mad because she isn’t gay enough. Plus, I repeat, this is a Scooby-Doo show without Scoob. Can’t please everyone, I guess.
That “can’t please everyone” attitude is present in the trailer for Velma, where it becomes clear the show is going for the same meta humor as HBO’s animated Harley Quinn show and She-Hulk’s “beat ‘em at their own game” attitude toward Internet trolls. It remains to be seen whether the internet commentariat at large embraces the show.
All of this representation is well and good. But could Warner Bros.’ newfound fondness for painting the character in a new light have anything to do with a quick PR win amid a disasterous merger?
Shortly after Velma came out as lesbian and South Asian, Warner Bros. Discovery laid off 82 staffers, many of whom worked in animation. They will consolidate Warner Bros. Animation and Cartoon Network Studios (which made Trick or Treat Scooby-Doo!) as a result. Ideally, it should all work out, but some at Cartoon Network are already seeing the writing on the wall and are saying that a budget consolidation will result in less original content and more IP mining. Scooby-Doo, long a flagship franchise for the company, should be fine, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Trick or Treat Scooby-Doo! and Velma became the last interesting spins on Mystery, Inc. for a while.
Velma is lesbian, Velma is South Asian. But Velma may not be able to be anything new at all if Warner Bros. Discovery keeps slashing animation costs. Jinkies!