Part 1: Through the adult eyes of “The Jetsons” viewer

Part 1: Technology overview of ’60s show “The Jetsons”

Where technology went right and wrong on “The Jetsons”

Shamontiel L. Vaughn
Oct 20 · 9 min read
Does this parking lot from Chicago’s Marina Towers look familiar? (Photo credit: Mobilus In Mobil/Wikimedia Commons)

As a kid, I preferred spending my time reading “Ramona,” “The Babysitter’s Club,” “Fear Street” and “Goosebumps” books. When it came to comics, I drowned myself in “Peanuts,” “Curtis,” “Luann” and “Archie & Friends.” But every blue moon, there would be a cartoon that’d catch my attention. And “The Jetsons,” released in 1962, lured me in every single time.

Photo credit: The Jetsons/Wikimedia Commons

The Smithsonian already blew my mind to find out that I was basically watching 24 episodes over and over again. (Seasons 2 and 3 didn’t release until 1985 and 1987, and neither season was anywhere near as good as the first season.) I was mystified by all the technology. And as an adult, I wanted to rewatch the first season to see what my favorite cartoon would look like through the eyes of an adult. What was society like? Has technology matched up in 2019? Click here to find out how I felt about Episodes 9–16 and Episodes 17–24.

Here’s what happened in Episodes 1–8:

Photo credit: kreatikar/Pixabay

Episode 1

The wildest part to see as an adult: The Student Homing Device is a kidnapper’s dream come true. Adults can just click a “reject” button when the wrong kid zooms in from school? But what if they don’t click it? Also, for a teen mom, Jane did pretty well financially. (She was 33. Judy was 15.)

Technology matches reality: Although we have to hold them with our hands, we nailed electric toothbrushes. Moving floors are all over most airports (but haven’t made it to our homes). And we can thank Skype, Uber Conference, GoToMeeting, etc., for the video conference calls.

On the technology to-do list (I want it): Rosey’s sassiness was already entertaining, but I’m tickled by her sticking out her tongue, bobbing her head and putting her hands on her hips. It’s unprofessional, but it’s a joy to see, especially when she gave terrible boss Mr. Spacely a piece of her mind. If only we had the opportunity to program robots to tell our bosses what we really think of them.

Technology gone wrong: Although I have heard about nightmare beds that fold into the wall with someone still on them, this bed that closes like a suitcase to wake you up is all wrong. I can’t even handle the “anh/anh/anh” sound of alarm clocks and purposely bought a travel clock so I can hear ocean waves instead. No thank you!

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Photo credit: Tibor Antalóczy/Wikimedia Commons

Episode 2

The wildest part to see as an adult: Whistleblower Edward Snowden would have all kinds of problems with George adding devices on this singer Jet Screamer’s car so he can eavesdrop on the conversation with Judy. And why is this 15-year-old allowed to ride alone with this guy? Famous or not, chaperones should be a requirement, especially when you can buy band members off for $10.

Technology matches reality: We’ve nailed Roomba (and other electric vacuums) and talking watches. Although we do have indoor garages and the occasional elevator at home, we’re still missing out on sliding chairs that give us welcome-home service.

On the technology to-do list (I want it): Even if you didn’t watch “The Jetsons” (or were too young to know about it), the space car is still on a “want” list. (We’re waiting on you, Slovakian startup AeroMobil.) Airplanes and private jets come close, but it’s nothing like zooming around on your own. (Virgin Galactic and Under Armour are selling space fashion gear for tourists, but that’s nowhere near literally flying.)

Technology gone wrong: Why is the electric vacuum so lazy? It unapologetically just swept all the dust under the rug? Jane was up on game though and told the vacuum to cut it out. Also, I’m pretty sure most minority groups would opt out of cop cars magnetizing themselves to their flying cars, too. (We have enough police problems as is sitting on our own couches at home or dealing with jury duty mishaps.)

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Judge Joe Brown (Photo credit: Phil Konstantin/Wikimedia Commons)

Episode 3

The wildest part to see as an adult: While the author describing “The Jetsons” as a “bone-chilling dystopia” has a point about nonexistent minority groups, that 44–3/4 percent daily interest at the bank would further separate the poor from the rich. Also, I’m digging seeing Jane in this headwrap. That morning mask, with an entire duplicate head, was a bit much for Jane and Gloria to be wearing though. Real friends are ready for your morning face.

Technology matches reality: Considering their electric mop required a remote, and drowned the hell out of George’s face, it’s a bit of a relief that today’s electric mops have wireless dual spins.

On the technology to-do list (I want it): We’ve got blow dryers, but they’re definitely not snazzy enough to style our hair for us — bangs, curls and all.

Technology gone wrong: Sometimes people get out of traffic tickets because the officer doesn’t show up. George had to deal with a speeding ticket while the officer was standing there, watching the TV judge’s decision.

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Photo credit: Melissa Glasner/Wikimedia Commons

Episode 4

The wildest part to see as an adult: Why do the Jetsons live in such a bad neighborhood? First there was the bank robber who hid a bag of money in a car in their garage. Now cat burglars are breaking in. All this technology and there’s no alarm system?

Technology matches reality: Although I’d lose some money if more dog owners got into this, there are dog treadmills for those who don’t want to hire a dog walker. ‘Lectronimo isn’t nearly as fun as a real dog like Astro, but electric dogs are an option.

On the technology to-do list (I want it): If you’ve ever sat in a beauty salon for hours, you’ll respect Jane’s hairdresser who styled at least five hairdos in less than one minute.

Technology gone wrong: I’ll take dogs with real fur, thank you. These robot dogs have no sense of smell. George had to leave his own house because the dog was determined to make him the burglar and kept biting his ass.

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Photo credit: IADE-Michoko/Pixabay

Episode 5

The wildest part to see as an adult: So not only is it harder to lie and call in sick for work, but the boss’s wife will come over to verify it, too?

Technology matches reality: This SD card reader for the newspaper was pretty on point. Unemployed journalists may scowl at the future of digital journalism though.

On the technology to-do list (I want it): Considering I lose umbrellas so often I don’t think I’ve ever kept the same one in a year, I respected this spray that Elroy used. Whether he felt like a banana or not, he was dry by the time he got to school. Also, the self-service pellets at the “gas” station would certainly eliminate the War on Gas; it’s also eco-friendly.

Technology gone wrong: Not only can you never come to work late, but instead of punch cards, a camera follows you around showing your photo and what time you came in. Snitch! But at least Elroy knows how to honor the code: “I respectfully refuse to answer on the grounds it may tend to lower my allowance.”

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Photo credit: stevepb/Pixabay

Episode 6

The wildest part to see as an adult: I loved overnight camping during my five years as a Girl Scout. But nobody in Troop 54 could convince me to hike 10 miles. Send me home! H-E-P-L!

Technology matches reality: Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collins already covered a trip to the moon. Meanwhile street sweepers on the moon are just as frustrating to walk by as they are on Earth.

On the technology to-do list (I want it): As time-consuming as it would be to hand the washer/dryer each item one at a time, the fact that it sews buttons back on is worth it all.

Technology gone wrong: The machines on this show shade the hell out of humans. The statistics machine that told 168-pound George that he had a “fat chance” of getting a vacation was the most jaw-dropping shade so far.

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Photo credit: Pixabay

Episode 7

The wildest part to see as an adult: Salute to parents who trust their kids enough to just swallow any old random pill in hopes of flying. Never mind that Elroy was blowing up their home on several occasions. And why are the bosses in the space industry so comfortable to be riding their employees’ backs (literally) and throwing them out of windows?

Technology matches reality: Although I still don’t understand the point of a smokeless ashtray, we do indeed have electric ashtrays. Floor ashtrays and outdoor ashtrays also come in handy for those who don’t want to hold a ceramic ashtray bowl.

On the technology to-do list (I want it): We haven’t even got space cars, and this episode is trying to turn people into “Iron Man” just flying around without even bothering to get in a vehicle. With that said, I found parasailing to be absolutely boring. A human body flying 500 feet in the air (or more) might make it feel less like I’m just riding the bus.

Technology gone wrong: Apparently gravity in space is so slow that you can go get your car and stop someone from falling out of the air. But when you “catch” him with your car, expect busted windows — and somehow your boss still comes back to work the next day. George is never going to get his vacation at this rate.

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Photo credit: WebQueen/Pixabay

Episode 8

The wildest part to see as an adult: Rosey had a point about how people act when they’re in love versus when they break up. It’s a cold world out there.

Technology matches reality: Reclining chairs were invented in 1928, so we had this covered. They still don’t move to the door to greet you, but we can enjoy the comfort. And although we do have hand-crank knitting machines, the average knitter doesn’t quite trust a machine to do it for them. Maybe the Kniterate will be embraced by all someday. Still though, we do have industrial knitting machines.

On the technology to-do list (I want it): While we do have cleaning machines that help out the maintenance guys of the world like Henry, and our own devices at home, time is still ticking for robots to do it all.

Technology gone wrong: If tech-savvy people are determined to create robots with feelings, expect to deal with relationship drama like Rosey’s and Mack’s.

Click here to find out how I felt about Episodes 9–16 and Episodes 17–24.

Shamontiel L. Vaughn

Written by

14-year journalist; freelance writer/editor (Upwork); Wag! dog walker; Rover dog sitter; Toastmasters SAA & member; cohost of Do Not Submit; Shamontiel.com

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