Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Mindy Kaling Is Taking A Beating On Twitter For Her HBO Velma Series

Mindy Kaling's long awaited "Velma" series (an animated reimagining of the "Scooby-Doo!" universe) has finally hit HBO Max and ... it's fine.

On the online review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the show currently holds a non-certified "fresh" rating of 60%, meaning six of its ten reviews leaned toward the positive side. That's a pretty lukewarm reception for a new series centered on a well-known IP and starring one of TV's most prolific talents.

Upon seeing the trailer, Sabina Graves of Gizmodo criticized the series' played-out "mean-girlification" of its title character, further elaborating that the tone and sense of humor of "Velma" belonged in the early 2010s (a period during which Kaling's medical-romcom "The Mindy Project" flourished for several seasons). In her review of "Velma," The Hollywood Reporter's Angie Han described the series as thinking itself "too smart" for the source material it was mining, while also relying too heavily on rote meta-humor. For example, the series begins with a fleetingly amusing, perhaps well-constructed, but overlong sequence wherein a group of women comment on the television tradition of over-sexualizing characters in a pilot episode — while simultaneously taking a sensationalized group shower. There's enough of this sort of self-referential humor throughout the first episode to make even Deadpool blush.

Overall, it appears that "Velma" has resonated with critics as a promising but out-of-touch attempt to bring "Scooby-Doo!" into the modern age. Audiences, however, have had a far harsher reaction to the series, with many online making things bizarrely personal.

Fans blame Kaling for Velma's poor writing

Seemingly before even watching the series, one user on Twitter wrote, "This Velma show just looks horrible. Mindy Kaling should not be allowed to write." Though their assessment of the series more-or-less lines up with the broader critical community, to extrapolate that Kaling shouldn't "be allowed" to write television seems incongruous with her lauded work on "The Mindy Project" and "The Office." Even Kaling's Netflix series "Never Have I Ever" (which this user explicitly dislikes) was met with a relatively warm reception from critics. In other words, should "Velma" really be used to judge Kaling's career as a writer? Probably not, considering she didn't write "Velma."

In fact, "Velma" wasn't even created by Kaling, though many are under the misconception that she did. The series was developed by comedian Charlie Grandy, who also wrote the pilot and serves as an executive producer (alongside Kaling and several others). Yet, that hasn't stopped many online from pinning the show's lack of quality on her. "Mindy Kaling needs to be stopped," wrote a Twitter user, while another tweeted directly at the star, "if you wrote this show pls stick to acting cause writing isn't your forte."

This undeserved backlash can't help but beg the question of why people are so ready to celebrate Kaling's failure.

What's with all the Kaling hate?

It could be said that a fair amount of those online simply resent Mindy Kaling for being a woman of color, as well as for "writing" and "creating" a series that changes the races of well-known characters. As Deadline reported, Kaling primed herself and fans for such reductive criticism toward the show, stating that she didn't care if viewers took issues with an Indian Velma, specifically. Changing the race of a previously White character almost always provokes the most vocal and vitriolic voices to lash out, as they did after the casting of Michael B. Jordan as the Human Torch (per The Guardian) and Anna Diop as Starfire in "Titans" (per Vox). To continue without addressing this factor would be both irresponsible and negligent.

That being said, it is impossible to analyze why Kaling comes under such specific scrutiny without taking into account the numerous allegations made against her projects — especially since, for some, these past perceptions have shaped their criticism of "Velma." One user wrote: Somebody needs to slap mindy kaling bc why did you make velma interested in fred knowing damn well she is a lesbian... stop making your poc characters have love [White] love interests [sic], it's tired and annoying." This user's opinion on a fictional character's sexuality aside (as The Guardian notes, Velma has been popularly perceived as a lesbian and was once almost depicted as such), they do make a point that some critics have brought up about Kaling in the past.

Allegations of racism and anti-Semitism in her shows

Though both "Never Have I Ever" and "The Office" featured characters of color pining for White characters (see Ben Gross and Ryan Howard, respectively), Kaling's various TV love interests were put into question especially during "The Mindy Project." In presenting the homogenous love interests of Kaling's self-insert protagonist in concert with previous cringe-inducing quotes from the actor about exclusively preferring blonde men, Jezebel's Dodai Stewart questioned if Kaling's romantic casting practices were racially motivated — though Stewart also acknowledged the opinion of writer Nisha Chittal, who felt these fictional relationships disrupted stereotypes about Indian romantic culture. Ironically, however, "Never Have I Ever" drew criticism for supporting anti-Semitic stereotypes (per heyalama).

All this to say, many viewers have seemingly built Kaling up as a villain (righteously or otherwise), which may explain why the "Velma" series caused some to call her out personally — despite the fact that she doesn't have the control over the series that they think she does. The fact remains that Kaling did not conceptualize the series, nor did she write either of the episodes released on the streaming platform.