Velma is a Terrible Show and it is Absolutely Genius

A trend I hope doesn't catch on

January 17, 2023

Chain restaurants have created a terrible phenomenon in people where there could be a local family restaurant somewhere that serves great burgers and great fries for a fair price but nobody will go there and instead the parking lot across the street will be full of cars that drove forty-five minutes so that people could buy an overpriced mediocre burger with flavorless fries at Red Robin. People would rather spend their time and money on something familiar yet unremarkable than to spend it on something new that will often be much better.

But this phenomenon isn't exclusive to the food industry it is everywhere, especially within entertainment. It is why popular movies suck, it is why everything seems to have a sequel, it is why an old roommate of mine told everyone that his favorite movie was Big Trouble in Little China after I first showed it to him. Because he, like so many people these days, was generally unwilling to spend two hours of his time on something unfamiliar, but when he did finally do it he was greatly rewarded.

It is why the audiovisual entertainment industry is filled with almost nothing but remakes, reboots, and spin-offs, and almost all of them suck. Take the state of the Star Wars franchise as an example. A few years ago Disney announced a bunch of new Star Wars shows (notice no movies) that they were planning on releasing over the next few years. Kenobi was the show that everyone was most excited for but at the time I told my friends that it was probably going to suck and the show that I was most excited to see was Andor. My prediction was incredibly unpopular and hated by everyone I told it to, people thought Obi-Wan was such a great character so a show focusing on him couldn't possibly be bad while nobody wanted to watch a show about Cassian Andor would be boring because who would want to watch a show about a character who wasn't a big part of the greater Star Wars universe. The reasoning behind my prediction was that Kenobi would suck because it had expectations that were impossible to meet while Andor would do good because he was an interesting yet minor character with no expectations tied to him so the writers had the freedom to do something unique with him.

Fast-forward to the present and look at the Star Wars shows that have come out. The Bad Batch was alright but not for everyone, the Boba Fett show was dissapointing, and Kenobi was terrible, but Andor is considered by many to be the best Star Wars content to come out since Disney took over and possibly even the best Star Wars since the original trilogy. Andor was able to do this because it was about someone unfamiliar enough to the people who never venture away from the familiar that they could do something unfamiliar to those people, namely create something actually good. When you are dealing with beloved characters like Obi-Wan and Boba Fett it is nearly impossible to please fans but because that is all most people want to watch these days it is the characters that studios are forced to use.

This brings us to Velma, a Scooby-Doo spin-off, or reboot, or something, to be honest I'm not entirely sure what to call it because it doesn't have Scooby-Doo in it. Anyways it uses characters from Scooby-Doo. The show is terrible, it makes everyone angry, Scooby-Doo fans, Conservatives, Liberals, white people, potheads, feminists, Christians, and everyone else have something in this show to be angry about. I haven't watched it because I have too much self respect to waste time on that garbage but I have seen a few reviews and everyone reviewing it has said that it is the worst piece of media they have ever watched. It is so bad that many people believe, myself included, that it was made bad on purpose, not bad as in woke on purpose, because woke people hate it too, but genuinely bad on purpose.

My reasoning for believing this doesn't come from me (I generally don't care about niche things like Velma to think about them on my own), it comes from an Upper Echelon video. He spends a bunch of time talking about why Velma is so hated by everyone then he explains that intentionally making a terrible show for everyone to hate watch was safer than trying to make a good show. Of course Scooby-Doo is not a hard franchise to faithfully add on to. If you gave a high school creative writing class an assignment to write a Scooby-Doo story I'd bet almost all of the students would turn in a story that fit right in with the hundreds of other traditional Scooby-Doo stories out there. If HBO made a faithful Scooby-Doo reboot nobody would watch it because it wouldn't stand out and Scooby-Doo doesn't have the draw that things like Star Wars and Marvel have. Velma has gone viral because it is so hateable, you are supposed to watch it so that you can hate it, you are supposed to talk about it because you hate it like I am doing right now. I've fallen into HBO's trap by writing this and so have you for reading it, hopefully neither of us waste our time watching the show.

To quote Upper Echelon, "this feels like a pilot program for purely malicious reboots with the only definable intention being maximized anger through the destruction of existing brand goodwill." Of course we've had malicious spin-offs and reboots before, that is nothing new and they've all flopped, but those malicious shows' malice was only targeted towards fans of the original properties, Captain Marvel, She-Hulk, and that new Lord of the Rings spin off are prime examples of this. Velma is the only one of these shows that seems to have been designed to anger everybody. Fans of big nerdy franchises are hard to please, it takes talented and intelligent writing which is difficult to produce, the last time Star Trek fans were universally pleased with a new Star Trek show or movie was probably the 90s. If fans of these standing franchises are going to hate what you make anyways why not just lean into it and make something that everyone will hate too? It is much easier, and if it ends up working for Velma it might end up working for other things as well.

Velma is clearly a train wreck, but it is an experimental train wreck and I hope the experiment fails. But if the experiment turns out to be successful and we start to see more shows based on popular IPs made to be intentionally terrible then there would be a bright side to it: people might begin to turn away from the Red Robins of the film industry and start enjoying actual cinema. Maybe it is a psyop by the big players in the film industry to get the public to pay for actual art again, and if that is the case I can't say I'm opposed to it.