The Jetson’s was a futuristic Hanna-Barbera cartoon produced from 1962 till 1963 and again in 1985 till 1988 with the same cast. It was aired in the cream of cartoon time slots since its inception, spawned 2 television movies including the classic The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones, space age family meets stone age family, and saw a theatrical release in 1990. Despite studio talks of further Jetsons movies, both animated and live action, none have come to fruition, a serious oversight in an era where many of the technological marvels that are shown have come to pass.
The Jetsons was part family sitcom, part science fiction. The family was:
- “George”, breadwinner dad
- “Jane”, stay at home mom
- “Judy”, boy crazy teenage daughter
- “Elroy”, sweet, adventurous young son
- “Astro”, family dog
You can hear it reiterated in the opening theme song, give or take Astro, though he does make a significant appearance in the closing of each show. The lineup was typical of TV shows of the era down to the 2 point whatever percentage Astro represented, the baby boom was coming to a close as Americans were interested in keeping family size down to enjoy the good life they had seen post World War 2 and the prosperity of the 50s.
In this vein, despite arduous button pushing, George clearly had a good salary or the implication was that in the future everyone would and the family’s comfortable lifestyle allowed the show to feature the science fiction aspects of the show, the space age technology.
The show was set in 2062, a century from when it was produced, leaving us all only a 100 years to get in hover crafts, which may not have seemed impossible since the space race was underway. In 1962 John Glenn was the first American to orbit the Earth and more than half a century later Marty McFly cruised around with his personal hoverboard on October 21, 2015. The futuristic technology featured in the Jetsons ranged from satire on modern life to 1962 vision of the future.
In an oh so hurtful satire on modern laziness, hard working dad George suffers finger pains from pushing the button that triggers all processes necessary to his job, the mass production of “Spacely Sprockets”. Strictly speaking, how is finger fatigue really sillier than Carpal Tunnel syndrome?
When wife Judy chatted with her friends via video phone it wasn’t pure futuristic fantasy but a long anticipated technology, since realized in Facetime, Skype, Google Hangouts, etc. Unfortunately, not yet available is the animated mask of her face she would put on if she wasn’t camera ready.
Technologies bordering on fantasy, a prime example is Rosie the robot maid, have been partly realized. The iRobot company, real company, real name, sells automated cleaning robots Scooba™ and Roomba™, mop and vacuum respectively.
Where they fall short, arguably, is in soul. The desire for soul is evident in fan made accessories for Scooba™ and Roomba™ including a skin with a happy face. Not to make the The Jetsons sound too deep but technology and soul is a recurring theme as when George discovers Astro really is a better pet than a robot dog. Robot dogs have also come to pass, see Aibo™.
A technology not realized, the futuristic architecture of The Jetsons, is a case of the future as it was, think The Space Needle and Googie architecture. A modern retelling of the Jetsons, though, could totally justify the sky high elevated buildings and hover crafts. With global warming , glacial melt and increasing population, elevated architecture such as Vertical Farms may become a necessity.
The Jetsons is a goofy vision of the future but a relevant one, it’s also a time capsule of when it was first produced. On both fronts, in TV or movie form, it’s worth revisiting.