It's not often when a piece of media comes out that is so wretched, offensive, and tasteless that seemingly everyone -- whether they're far left or the far right, men or women, old or young -- ends up unified in their collective disdain for it.
In today's hyper-divisive climate, it would seem almost impossible to create such a product, yet that appears to be exactly what HBO Max's ballyhooed "Scooby-Doo" re-imagining, "Velma," is.
For those who are blissfully unaware: "Velma" has been promoted and pushed as an adult cartoon re-imagining of the beloved 1969 children's cartoon.
While I haven't personally viewed the show itself, I've seen enough clips and excerpts to tell you that in this "adult cartoon," HBO Max has stripped the original cartoon of the campy and goofy hijinks it was so known for and replaced it with a high school murder mystery drama centered on a re-imagined cast of the Mystery Inc. members.
There is no talking dog anymore, so Scooby is out. Shaggy goes by his real name this time around (Norville) and has been recast as a young, black teenager. Daphne is now Asian. Fred is presented as an insultingly stupid white person. And Velma is now Indian. And bisexual. Because why not.
Given the enduring success of adult cartoons like "South Park" or "Rick and Morty," it's not hard to imagine a world in which "Velma" is a rousing smash success that gobbles up all sorts of awards.
But that won't be in this world.
"Velma" has the ignominious distinction of being one of the poorest rated shows to grace movie database IMDb, and a cursory glance at the numbers paints a bleak picture of the beleaguered show.
According to this data filter on IMDb, "Velma" is officially the third lowest-rated show for any TV show that has received at least 5,000 reviews on IMDb, garnering a meager 1.3 out of a possible 10 stars.
That 5,000 review benchmark is actually important because looking at the poorest-rated shows in IMDb history, they all typically notch around 5,000 to 15,000 reviews.
In fact, the two shows that currently, rate poorer than "Velma" have 13,681 and 9,541 reviews, respectively.
(For the morbidly curious, the two series rated poorer than "Velma" are "The Pogmentary," which is a biographical look at soccer star Paul Pogba, and "Iste Bu Benim Masalim," which appears to be a foreign TV series about a singer.)
"Velma," meanwhile, has garnered such a vitriolic response that it has notched 41,955 reviews. That's almost double the amount of reviews as the two shows "ahead" of it combined.
Watch just a couple of clips of "Velma," and you can tell that the show is supremely unfunny in just about every way imaginable:
WARNING: The following clips contain language and imagery that the reader may find disturbing, particularly the third clip, which does show a cartoon leg being cut off by a paper cutter.
— Hanna-Barbera ScreenCaps (@HannaBarberaCap) January 16, 2023
Like literally, why did Velma have to do this to Fred after wrongly accusing him??? Who thought this was funny or cool? pic.twitter.com/QLz8dSAj6p
— ✨B L I S S✨🔜 FWA’23 (@BurrfullyThicc) January 13, 2023
the velma show is wild tf is going on pic.twitter.com/DVXejIsr7r
— jene (@jiulr) January 12, 2023
Looking at IMDb's bottom 20 shows, only one other bad show (ironically also another Warner Bros. property) has garnered more total reviews than "Velma" -- and that was another woke mess, "Batwoman." That CW superhero series garnered 44,515 total reviews.
Even then, "Batwoman" at least got an average score of 3.4 stars. That's still putrid, but more than double what "Velma" got.
And yet, actually looking at the reviews paints an even bleaker picture.
"Worse than people say," begins one review. "Should be on a top 10 worst tv shows of all time list," another review is titled. "'Comedy' tag needs to be removed," "Zoinks," and "You can tell the creators think it's hysterical" are just some of the damning review titles featured.
Unfortunately for Warner Bros. and HBO, an even more granular look at those IMDb reviews shows that this issue isn't afflicting any lone sub-group of people. There's a nigh-universal disdain for "Velma."
Of the 41,955 votes cast for "Velma," the overwhelming majority of those votes were for one lonely star out of a possible 10 stars; 37,462 votes were cast giving the show just 1 star. Interestingly, the next highest voter turnout happened among those giving "Velma" 10 stars out of 10, with 1,521 voters going with the perfect score. The next highest voter tally is those who voted for just two stars, which numbers 1,074 people.
Looking at demographics, it doesn't get much better for "Velma."
The 18-29 age group, which is ostensibly the ideal target audience for an adult cartoon, actually rated this show the lowest.
Interestingly, women did typically view "Velma" more favorably than men, but only to a score of about 2.7, which is still pretty bad in the grand scheme of things (for comparison, "The View" has a 2.5-star rating on IMDb.)
At the end of the day, the reasoning may vary on why people have soured on "Velma" so violently ("It's woke, LGBT propaganda nonsense," a conservative may say. "It's an unfunny psyop meant to discredit the left," a leftist may say), but there does appear to be an underlying theme -- Why was this project ever greenlit?
If you're going to do a show like this, why bastardize the good name of Scooby-Doo to do it? The exact same adult cartoon, but based on original characters instead of the Mystery Inc. gang, would likely still have gotten lampooned, but not to this degree.
Either way, what's done is done. "Velma" creator Mindy Kaling will have to deal with this fallout, and it's an issue entirely of her own doing.