Mindy Kaling's "Velma"
Mindy Kaling has been widely known for being the representation for South Asian individuals in film and TV shows, but critics are saying she has missed the mark with her new HBO original animated series, Velma.
Where The Problem Started
Mindy Kaling is an American actress, comedian, screenwriter, and producer, most famously known for her role of Kelly Kapoor on The Office and her help producing the hit TV show, Never Have I Ever. But more recently, Kaling has been receiving backlash from her new animated series Velma, which is Kaling’s spin on the popular series Scooby-Doo. Kaling originally was getting hate for making one of the main characters of the show Indian, when she was originally white.
To this negative feedback, Kaling came out on the Warners Bros Discovery Upfront Presentation to say, “If a dog can solve crimes, then my Velma can be brown.” But the hate didn’t stop there. After the first two episodes of the show were released on January 12, 2023, people began to criticize her for making her new Velma fit harmful stereotypes of South Asian people.
Many fans agreed that by Kaling making her Velma Indian, she could have brought loads of representation to the table for many South Asian people all over the world, but instead she took it in a more harmful direction and filled the show with harmful stereotypes. In one episode of the show, there is a scene where two of the characters are having a conversation with Velma, where they tell her that she is a dog, she has a handsome face, and that she has “hairy gorilla arms”due to her features.
Viewers were obviously very upset about this, claiming that she took this show in the worst possible direction. Even though this is still considered to be representative for South Asian people, it is important to remember that not all representation is good representation.
Though many fans agree that how she chooses to represent Velma is problematic, many other people argue that she can’t and shouldn’t be held to full accountability because for years, she has been the only South Asian representation in film and TV and she should not have to be responsible for representing 1.5 billion people in the world.
Though Kaling is obviously not the only representation, she is definitely one of the biggest. People question why she should have to pave the way for new up and coming Indian producers and actors. Why should she have to be the one to test the waters and see what things go well with people and what things they view as problematic? They don’t think Kaling should have to carry the burden of being the only representation and having her take all responsibility for all representation when she seems to be the only one doing it when she has no lead or inspirations to follow like other actors have.
Before the release of the show when it was announced that Velma would be Indian, Kaling was very vocal about how she was proud of her character and the show and was constantly defending her show to the people critiquing it for Velma being South Asian, but it seems that she has stayed silent after all the negative feedback.
On all of her social medias she hasn’t been promoting or posting about it since the release date on January, 12 instead all of her content surrounding her projects has been focused around her Netflix Original show Never Have I Ever and she hasn’t responded anything to all of the backlash.
The Future of The Show
Despite all of the negative feedback, the 40% on Rotten Tomatoes, and the 1.5/10 stars on IMDB, Velma will be returning to HBO for a season two, hopefully being able to make a better comeback and set a better example for other South Asian characters in film.
Importance of Good Representation In TV
There is loads of representation across all media platforms but how much of it is actually authentic and good representation? Good representation is not making a character in a popular show Indian only to have the entire plot belittle her and tease her for stereotypical traits, good representation should make the people meant to be represented feel good about themselves and help to build confidence in them.
Anybody can put representation into the media but it is important that we focus on putting actual good representation out there that makes people feel seen and heard and doesn’t hurt groups in the making.