‘Velma’ Season 1, Episode 4 Review

by Frank Martin

Velma has thus far been a very frustrating show. On the one hand, it has some very clever ideas and delivers some witty dialogue. On the other, it forces a lot of its themes in awkward ways while completely bypassing the main draw for the series. Mystery and investigations are either pushed to the background entirely or ends up the episode’s B plot. That should be the main focus of everything and all the characterization should be derived from there. Instead, it seems as if the show has it the other way around.

In the fourth episode, Velma (Mindy Kaling) tries to protect the “hot girls” in school from being the killer’s next victim. Since the school doesn’t have enough money to protect everyone, they task her with ranking them all. Instead of making them hot, though, the principal decides Velma should instead make them ugly. This ultimately results in Velma coming to some sort of realization that hotness is within and people should embrace who they are regardless of how they look.

It’s kind of a touching theme for young girls, except young girls are not this show’s demographic. On the surface, the idea of Velma ranking girls by hotness is hilarious. There is also a side plot with Fred (Glenn Howerton) learning about the feminine mystique that was also funny. But the only thing that actually moved the overall story along was a plot involving Daphne (Constance Wu) and Norville (Sam Richardson), which was ultimately abandoned at the last minute when Norville got scared. All in all, the show is just confusing as it doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be. It’s a witty deconstruction, while also being a feminist inspiration story, and also a mystery. Any one of these approaches would have been fine on their own, but throwing them all in a blender has only turned the show into a muddled mess.

Velma streams Thursdays on HBO Max.

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