What ‘The Jetsons’ Predicted Right (and Wrong) About the Future

Get ready to meet George Jetson – because he’s about to be born.

According to the canon “The Jetsons”, the button-pressing, flying-car-driving, iconic future man entered the galaxy on July 31, 2022. As George celebrates his first birthday, the show itself is about to celebrate its 60th: It debuted on September 23, 1962, a century before it takes place.

That means we’re just 40 years away from the Jetsons world of Rosie the Robot, toothbrush machines and apartment buildings high above the clouds.

So why are we still sitting on the ground waiting for our jetpacks? And why all these years later do we still keep a somewhat corny, old-school animated sitcom as a beacon of what could be?

“We’re still talking about the future in Jetson’s terms,” ​​said Jared Bahir Browsh, author of the 2021 book “Hanna-Barbera: A History.” way we see our culture and our lives.” (“The Jetsons” actually came out in two parts: the original ’60s series had only 24 episodes, and then a reboot in 1985 gave it another 50.)

Read on to see what “The Jetsons” did right about the future — and what it did hilariously wrong.

On-point predictions

To 1960s audiences, the Jetsons' videophone — a large piece of hardware whose static screen gives way to an image of the person you're trying to reach — seemed like a dream.
To 1960s audiences, the Jetsons’ videophone — a large piece of hardware whose static screen gives way to an image of the person you’re trying to reach — seemed like a dream.
Everett Collection

Despite its sci-fi setting, the show was a quintessential 1960s patriarchal sitcom, showing how George, his wife Jane, teenage daughter Judy, and young son Elroy are endlessly met by automated gadgets and ubiquitous treadmills, yet bickering over typical work and family drama.

And yet, “The Jetsons” “stands as the most important piece of 20th-century futurism,” according to Smithsonian magazine.

One of the things that so clearly sets “The Jetsons” apart from other sci-fi, according to Danny Graydon, author of “The Jetsons: The Official Guide to the Cartoon Classic,” is that it’s neither dystopian nor utopian—certainly not “Mad.” Max” but also not the peaceful Federation of “Star Trek”.

“It tried to take a forward-thinking look at where we could be a century later from when the show first aired,” Graydon said.

A woman in a video meeting.
A woman in a video meeting.
Getty Images

To 1960s audiences, the Jetsons’ videophone — a large piece of hardware whose static screen gives way to an image of the person you’re trying to reach — seemed like a dream.

By 2022, we’ll have surpassed that technology without even realizing it — and we’re already sick of it. Skype came 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 bit Jetsons-y.

“It’s amazing how accurate it was, especially in the Zoom era,” Browsh said. “We’re starting to live that life more and more.”

While sassy robot girls like Rosie aren’t hitting the market anytime soon, we’ve had cleaning help in the form of Roombas – which is actually based on landmine technology – and other robot vacuums for centuries.

a drone
A drone in the sky.
JCRice for NY Post
A Roomba.
A Roomba.
Corbis via Getty Images

We also have Jetsons’ flat screen TVs, cameras that can see inside your body and drones that are everywhere in the sky. In 2062, Elroy Jetson and friends are watching reruns of “Flintstones” in the back of the classroom on a TV — something you can now do on an Apple Watch, which came out in 2015. calls as shown in the show, add-on accessories can make the feat, and Apple is expected to add a camera to the 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 simply watching an exercise program without actually participating.

“Technology literally takes away the urge to do something right,” he said.

Almost done, but you can’t use it

Judy Jetson fed her family at the touch of a button.
Judy Jetson fed her family at the touch of a button.
Everett Collection

Matriarch Judy Jetson had a household machine that delivered breakfast at the touch of a button. That technology has technically existed in the form of 3D food printers since 2006, but it is limited to exhibitions, labs and experimental use. For example, a startup uses 3D printers to make meaty steaks from plant-based ingredients.

While the world waits for such gadgets to become widely available, you can get a June Smart Oven, which costs about $1,000, works over Wi-Fi, and can sense the food you’re cooking. Smart fridges meanwhile let you see the contents of your fridge from your phone, but you still have to cook them yourself.

And that’s just the kitchen.

A June Smart Oven, which costs about $1,000, works over Wi-Fi and can sense what food you're cooking.
A June Smart Oven, which costs about $1,000, works over Wi-Fi and can sense what food you’re cooking.
San Francisco Chronicle via Gett

“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 some electric toothbrushes advertised on podcasts that still use AA batteries.

Skin care is a little more advanced – we have masks that shoot LED light at your face and home lasers that bring your skin back up. “The Jetsons” have definitely underestimated how much everyone would be worried about aging in 2022.

A machine to brush your teeth
A machine to brush your teeth on “The Jetsons.”
ABC
Judy Jetson has her nails done by a machine.
Judy Jetson has her nails done by a machine.
Everett Collection

When it comes to transportation, experimental military “jetpacks” also technically exist in a 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 crave. But they are also realistic about the challenges.

“[A flying car] also looks really nice,” Browsh said, “until the first accident happens.”

A flying car prototype tested by a Japanese company in September 2020.
A flying car prototype tested by a Japanese company in September 2020.
SkyDrive/CARTIVATOR/AFP via Getty

Capitalism still exists in the future, although George Jetson only works a three-hour, three-day workweek, pushing a button in the gear factory. The portrayal of a workday is where reality is most different from the world of “The Jetsons,” Browsh said, at least in America, which still lags far behind European countries in working hours, work-life balance and paid family leave. .

“I think many of us are working more than ever in this era,” he said. “The idea that automation wouldn’t just make our lives easier has led to panic that it’s going to replace work.”

No more ‘wow’ factor

The family in their flying car.
The family in their flying car.
Everett Collection

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 more challenging to create really surprising visions of the future,” he said. “Technology moves so fast, it’s actually quite a challenge to achieve the ‘wow’ factor.”

By 2022, our optimism for the future has also given way to a clear view of the roadblocks: endless energy needs, supply chains, climate change, socioeconomic gaps, government congestion, and chimeric tech billionaires with their hands on all the buttons. Our science fiction has definitely become bleak. Apple TV’s “Severance” envisions a world where the workday technically never ends, while “Westworld” is full of murderous robots.

Rosie the robot girl
While sassy robot girls like Rosie aren’t hitting the market anytime soon, we’ve had help with cleaning in the form of Roombas.
ABC

Now a savvy audience would want to know what the world looks like outside the space age of the Jetsons.

“What about the people on the ground?” Brouwer wondered. “Are they still alive there?”

The show strongly holds that the Earth has been devastated by smog, pollution and extreme weather, making for a bleak reality where humanity decided to live above their problems rather than make lifestyle changes to solve them.

If you think about it, all of the show’s technological advancements suggest a lazy future, a possible precursor to the world of Pixar’s “WALL-E,” where clueless people lead sedentary lives, oppressed by cunning robots. In “The Jetsons” there are moving walks and automated seats everywhere; air-based buildings make walking impossible anyway.

In the cartoon everything is great, and yet no one is happy – but that’s how the creators planned it.

“It speaks to the idea that as humans we always have something to complain about,” Graydon said. “One of the problems with utopia, if you create a perfect world, that world can be pretty boring.”

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