In 1962, a prime-time cartoon show called The Jetsons premiered. Believe it or not, it lasted one season, a total of 24 episodes. Yet, the world it showed became such a template for the future that we talk about it today 56 years later.
Don’t believe me? Listen to anyone talk about the future, or how today’s world isn’t what we thought it would be, and someone inevitably will talk about flying cars and robot maids. While you could find references to these things in other media, notably the books of Isaac Asimov, it was The Jetsons that made people think about it.
This one show had a massive impact on pop culture. Britain’s The Independent” calls it “The most influential show of the 20th century.” The Smithsonian Institution noted in 2012, that after 50 years, the show still matters. I tend to agree. First, let’s take a moment to absorb the thrill that is the opening sequence of this show.
It’s all right there for you. The fashions, the technology, and man those cool mid-century buildings! This is the future we were promised and no matter how awesome things are today, they still aren’t as awesome as this show made it seem.
Let’s take a moment though…
…and remember the show was still made in 1962. George is the only breadwinner, and the only thing we know about his wife is that she spends his money. That’s not cool. In fact, women don’t work in The Jetsons. Even though they have robot maids, their lives are incredibly domestic. In truth whenever you watch any TV from the 1950s and 1960s you’re going to encounter this attitude.
George also lives a white-collar life of leisure. His job is stressful, but it essentially boils down to sitting in front of a giant monitor pressing a button when it needs pressing. In some ways, my life is like that too. But even here in 2018, there are still plenty of menial jobs out there.
Yeah he had a flying car.
He also had literally instant food, a robot maid, buildings floating in the sky, a car that turned into a briefcase, a dog who could almost speak English, and all the trappings of his version of the 21st century. However, here’s a list of some things he didn’t have.
- The internet
- Cell phones
- Streaming video
- 1000 channels of live TV
- Noise cancelling headphones (with Bluetooth)
- Farm-to-table food
- Solar power
Then again, he also didn’t have
- Standardized tests
- Cardi B (I’m counting her as a negative, your choice)
- Reality television
- $5 cups of coffee
- Twitter (again, counting it as a negative. Your mileage may vary.)
The point is, George’s life was two-dimensional. It was something we’ll never achieve. It gave us all the glitz of a life we wanted to live without the reality of the life we have to live. We’ll never get to the point where we have all the things George has because we have other things. Some are better and some are worse. Point is, they’re all things that couldn’t have been imagined in 1962.
But seriously though, that architecture and that furniture. I’d move there in a second.