I remember when I was younger and used to watch The Jetsons on Cartoon Network! I absolutely loved this show. However, upon rewatching it, I realized that there are a lot of social implications embedded in this show. In fact, I think that this show may have created my initial excitement and fascination about the future.
This popular American sitcom about a family of the future is set in the year 2062, in a futuristic utopia. This show has created a normative set of ideas in the minds of children watching TV about what the future would be like that I would argue is still envisioned by some to be the future today. The Jetsons was produced by Hannah-Barbera. The show aired from 1962 until 1988. This source confirms that, “It’s easy for some people to dismiss “The Jetsons” as… a lowly cartoon at that. But this little show—for better and for worse—has had a profound impact on the way that Americans think and talk about the future…”
The theme song is upbeat and energetic as we travel through our enormous beautiful galaxy that is colorful and sparkling with stars until we reach our one and only planet Earth!
It evokes, for me, feeling of optimism and excitement. The nuclear family of four is in their flying car, a staple image for our perception of the future late 1950s America, through a magnificent futuristic city with buildings that are high up in the sky. Everything is running smoothly and efficiently.
Of course, the nuclear family hasn’t changed so many years into the future. It still consists of a father, mother, brother and sister, all of which are in the car.
George Jetson is the first one introduced in perfect timing with the words of the song, he the one operating the flying car as the father of the household.
He then sends his son “Elroy” off to the Little Dipper School (cute!) in a little flying portal.
Then is “daughter, Julie” who hugs him before he sends her in a portal to Orbit High School.
Then “Jane, his wife” who asks him for money.
She is too quick! She takes his whole wallet instead of the dollar bill he took out of it to give to her, leaving George first confused and then momentarily annoyed. Then she sends herself to the Shopping Center in a flying portal thing too.
Obviously, even years into the future, the perception of the future that existed when the show was being aired was that husband and wife will still have the same tensions as they did in late 1950s and early 1960s America. The entire narrative of the show takes place through the perspective of George Jetson and we can see this in the theme song, the fact that there is an interaction between daughter and father, father and son, and father and his wife. However, there is no sister-brother, brother-mother, nor sister-mother interaction in this intro sequence.
After he has sent everyone to where they need to go, he goes off to work himself. His flying car folds up into a briefcase and he stands on a moving belt that transports him to work.
The moving belt also seems to be an image of the future back in this time with the rise of factory production.
It is a staple image of productivity and this is how George Jetson gets to work at Spacely (Space Rockets Inc.) the industry that is most important to develop so that we can beat the Russians and get ourselves out into that wonderful and magnificent galaxy!
According to this source “The whole scene — which anticipated so much of the technology we have today but, strangely, not email or texting — reflected the ethos of time: a love of progress and a vision of a future that stayed on course…”
- The “retro-future” of “The Jetsons” (cbsnews.com)