What ‘The Jetsons’ predicted right (and wrong) about the future
Get ready to meet George Jetson, because he is about to be born.
The future iconic man, pushing buttons, driving a flying car, entered the galaxy on July 31, 2022, according to “The Jetsons” canon. As George celebrates his first birthday, the series itself is about to turn 60: it debuted on September 23, 1962, a century before it was filmed.
That means we’re supposed to be only 40 years away from the world of Rosie the Robot’s Jetsons, toothbrushes, and apartment buildings above the clouds.
So why are we still stuck on the ground waiting for our jetpacks? And why, all these years later, are we still holding up a somewhat cheesy, old-school animated sitcom as a beacon of what could be?
“We always talk about the future in terms of the Jetsons,” said Jared Bahir Browsh, author of the 2021 book “Hanna-Barbera: A History.” “A show that originally ran for one season has had such an impact on how we see our culture and our lives.” (“The Jetsons” actually came out in two pieces: its original ’60s run was just 24 episodes, then a 1985 reboot gave it another 50.)
Read on to see what “The Jetsons” got right about the future – and what he hilariously got wrong.
Despite its sci-fi setting, the show was a typical 60s patriarchal sitcom, showing how George, his wife Jane, his teenage daughter Judy and young son Elroy have their needs endlessly met by automated gadgets and carpets. ubiquitous wheelies, but still bicker over typical work. and family drama.
And yet, “The Jetsons” “stands as the most important piece of 20th-century futurism,” according to Smithsonian magazine.
According to Danny Graydon, author of “The Jetsons: The Official Guide to the Cartoon Classic,” one of the things that so clearly separates “The Jetsons” from other sci-fi films is that it is neither neither dystopian nor utopian – certainly not “Mad Max” but neither the peaceful Federation of “Star Trek”.
“He was trying to have this forward-thinking vision of where we could be a century after the show first aired,” Graydon said.
For 1960s audiences, the Jetsons’ videophone — a big piece of hardware whose static screen gives way to an image of the person trying to reach you — sounded like a dream.
In 2022, we’ve surpassed this technology without even realizing it – and we’re already sick of it. Skype arrived in the early 2000s, and FaceTime followed in 2010. Thanks to the pandemic, we all have video chat trauma, even if the name “Zoom” sounds a little Jetsons-y.
“It’s pretty amazing how accurate it was, especially in the zoom era,” Browsh said. “We’re starting to live that life more and more.”
While sassy robotic maids like Rosie aren’t hitting the market anytime soon, we’ve had some cleaning help in the form of Roombas – which are actually based on landmine technology – and others. robotic vacuum cleaners for ages now.
We also have flat screen TVs from Jetsons, cameras that can look inside your body, and drones that dot the skies. In the year 2062, Elroy Jetson and his friends watch “Flintstones” reruns from the back of the classroom on a TV watch – something you can now do on an Apple Watch, which was released in 2015. wrist also can’t make video calls like in the show, additional accessories can accomplish the feat, and Apple is expected to add a camera to watches very soon.
Graydon said he recently tried a workout app on his Apple Watch and it reminded him of an episode where George was just watching a workout program, not participating in it.
“Technology literally takes away the urge to do anything right,” he said.
You’re almost there, but you can’t use it
Matriarch Judy Jetson had a household machine that delivered breakfast at the push of a button. This technology has technically been around since 2006 in the form of 3D food printers, but it’s limited to exhibits, labs, and experimental uses. One startup, for example, is using 3D printers to make meaty steaks from plant-based ingredients.
As the world waits for such gadgets to become widely available, you can get a June Smart Oven, which costs around $1,000, works over Wi-Fi and can detect the food you’re cooking. Smart fridges, on the other hand, will allow you to see the contents of your fridge from your phone, but you still have to cook them yourself.
And that’s just the kitchen.
“The Jetsons” promised us a morning routine filled with automated hygiene machines that comb your hair and brush your teeth at the same time. Instead, we have electric toothbrushes that are advertised on podcasts and still use AA batteries.
Skincare is a bit more advanced – we have masks that shine LED light on your face and home lasers that resurface your skin. “The Jetsons” definitely underestimated how concerned everyone would be about aging in 2022.
When it comes to transportation, experimental military “jetpacks” also technically exist in clunky form, but you can’t use one. And self-driving cars could hit the market before 2062 if they can ever stop killing people on the streets.
Many fans, including Browsh and Graydon, cite flying cars as the Jetsons’ invention they most aspire to. But they are also realistic about the challenges.
“[A flying car] also seems like a lot of fun,” Browsh said, “until the first accident happens.
Capitalism still exists in the future, despite George Jetson only working a three-hour, three-day workweek, pushing a button at the gear factory. The representation of a working day is where reality deviates the most from the world of “The Jetsons”, said Browsh, at least in America, which is still far behind European countries in terms of hours. work, work-life balance and paid family leave.
“At this time, I think a lot of us are working harder than ever,” he said. “This idea that automation wasn’t just going to make our lives easier led to the panic that it was going to replace work.”
No more “wow” factor
We’ll never have a new show like “The Jetsons,” Graydon said, because we’ll never be so naive about the future again.
“It’s harder to create really surprising views of the future,” he said. “Technology moves so fast that it’s actually very difficult to achieve the ‘wow’ factor.”
By 2022, our optimism for the future has also given way to a lucid view of the obstacles: endless energy demands, supply chains, climate change, socio-economic gaps, government blockage and chimerical technology billionaires with their hands on all the buttons. . Our science fiction has become decidedly sullen. Apple TV’s “Severance” envisions a world where the workday technically never ends, while “Westworld” is full of murderous robots.
Now, a savvy audience would demand to know what the world looks like beyond the Jetsons’ space-age home.
“And the people on the ground? Browsh wondered. “Do they still live there?”
The show strongly implies that the Earth has been destroyed by smog, pollution and extreme weather, which creates a grim reality where humanity has decided to live above its problems rather than alter its way of life. life to solve them.
When you think about it, all of the show’s technological advancements hint at a lazier future, a possible precursor to Pixar’s “WALL-E” world, where clueless humans lead sedentary lives, oppressed by scheming robots. In “The Jetsons,” moving walkways and automated chairs are everywhere; sky-based buildings make walking impossible anyway.
In the cartoon, everything is amazing, and yet no one is happy – but that’s how the creators intended it.
“It ties into this idea that as human beings we’re always going to have something to complain about,” Graydon said. “One of the problems with utopia, if you create a perfect world, that world could be pretty boring.”