Part 3: Through the adult eyes of “The Jetsons” viewer

Part 3: Technology overview of ’60s show “The Jetsons”

Where technology went right and wrong on “The Jetsons”

Shamontiel L. Vaughn
Oct 22 · 10 min read

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.

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 they left much to be desired.) 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 1–8, and click here for Episodes 9–16.

Here’s what happened in Episodes 17–24:

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Photo credit: Stokpic/Pixabay

Episode 17

The wildest part to see as an adult: I’m sure I didn’t appreciate the Chicago connection enough as a kid. Until today, I had no idea about the story of the Marina Towers sketch that was distributed in 1962 by the Associated Press. Judy and Elroy getting dropped off at their grandmother’s home in Chicago certainly made that sketch all the more intriguing. As a Chicagoan, I love the shout-out.

Technology matches reality: Although most of our “talking” billboards just flash different words (and often lecture us about seat belts), bus stop signs nowadays are a bit more advanced. These billboards even talk to smartphones.

On the technology to-do list (I want it): Every time I read a post from a disgruntled waitress, especially this one who described a 15 percent tip as “paltry,” it makes me that much more eager to just have robot waitresses and do away with the customer criticism. But the way the slot machines stalked George and Jane in Las Venus for their second anniversary results in machines dictating the inside of your purse as much as human waiters.

Technology gone wrong: I’m not a gambler, so this robot Jackpot is not appealing to me. Folks have enough of a gambling addiction as is. Having the machines come to your room is nothing but trouble. And get rid of the band conductor who made the terrible joke about going on vacation with the “girl of your dreams or your wife.”

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Photo credit: Claudio Schwarz/Unsplash

Episode 18

The wildest part to see as an adult: I don’t know who became the writer in this episode, but George is surprisingly misogynistic and old-fashioned. He’s lecturing Henry about how he needs a family to feel like a king. He’s told Jane that women should not be drivers. (This is also out of sequence because on past episodes, Jane has driven a space car before. George just put a blindfold on by the end of the episode because she drives like a getaway driver.) He’s not very likable at all on here, and I’m glad he didn’t act like this on Episodes 1–17. Even the Aerospace driving instructor — with a digital sign that he updated to say “Lady Student Driver Beware” — and the driver’s ed manager are sexist.

Technology matches reality: While only 17 percent of buses are electric, we do have them.

On the technology to-do list (I want it): If you’ve ever been the victim of a scissor-happy beautician (or barber), you understand how painful it is to get a haircut you did not ask for. At least all it took was an instant spray to bring George’s hair back to its original length.

Technology gone wrong: This split-and-run car that connects again is the foldable car I don’t need. This Hiriko electric foldable car isn’t either.

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Photo credit: maja7777/Pixabay

Episode 19

The wildest part to see as an adult: There’s a certain person with bone spurs who I would be very happy to see survive Camp Nebula, considering the age limit to serve is men from ages 18 to 80. (He’s only 73.) Also, salute to Henry for the second Chicago shout-out.

Technology matches reality: The Tele-Tape could easily be a subpoena or summons, but it seems more like a telegram or lottery announcement.

On the technology to-do list (I want it): Robot Officer Training Core (ROTC) sounds all right to me if it’s just a matter of pressing buttons to make machines sweep and mop. Although I can’t get into dishwashers, this version doesn’t require rinsing first. Bonus!

Technology gone wrong: From 1940 to 1975, the draft was definitely a real scare (or honor, if you’re into that sort of thing). The good news is The Jetsons’ version only lasts two weeks. (Keep in mind a two-hour workday was considered brutal in “The Jetsons” time period.) The bad news is your boss could end up being your captain. Ugh, no thanks. (And the civilian who became an officer for putting a round peg into a square hole is worse than seeing Uniblab again. Why does this robot keep getting lubricated?)

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Photo credit: anabelle carite/Unsplash

Episode 20

The wildest part to see as an adult: Considering how Mr. Spacely treats George, including calling the man “hen-pecked,” I’m delighted about how Mrs. Spacely sonned the hell out of her husband. Normally I’d find her annoying, but Mr. Spacely is forever ruining every anniversary, family outing and vacation George has. (And minus Episode 18, I like George quite a bit.) As for Ms. Western Hemisphere, kill it, sis!

Technology matches reality: Although it’s not particularly my thing, there really are fiber optic dresses that look like one of many outfits that Jane dried on. To each her own.

On the technology to-do list (I want it): When you’re a freelancer, Monday through Friday can all run together as one day. A weekend is just another two days of work. So I could definitely use a machine that would wash my face, do my hair and brush my teeth at the same time while I just stood there getting ready to work. Machines that yank outfits off you and put new ones on sound like a treat, too.

Technology gone wrong: Wouldn’t everybody lie about their seating arrangement if robots just asked them what seat they were in? I’d just say the front row every single time until I got caught.

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Photo credit: Fontana/Pixabay

Episode 21

The wildest part to see as an adult: Apparently George Jetson follows street codes because he was not about that snitching life. The man went out into his idea of “the wilderness” to hang out on reclining chairs with shades, overhead lights, double TVs and his dog. Looks like glamping in its finest hour, even if he thought he was hiding from criminals.

Technology matches reality: The messaging system at George’s hideout spot is basically a speech-to-text mobile app — and it does a better job of eliminating typos. Although Astro ruined the message, I’ve also had a dog who swallowed a message I wanted to send. (She may have saved me from a bad date though.) On a separate note, the Space Mail box is basically just a drone. At the rate Amazon is going, we’ll see more drones than we will human delivery drivers.

On the technology to-do list (I want it): If you’ve ever had the “pleasure” of chasing a dog around your home to give him/her a bath, you know why this clamp that catches the dog would be incredibly helpful.

Technology gone wrong: It’s already problematic that this movie scene didn’t have any barricades so extras didn’t come on set. But random movie directors scanning extras’ license plates to get release forms signed is, well, about as intrusive as today’s social media platforms.

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Photo credit: Pixabay/Pexels

Episode 22

The wildest part to see as an adult: I still haven’t figured out in 22 episodes why Cogswell Cogs wants a business merger so bad. The company keeps trying to outdo Spacely Space Sprockets Inc., so I understand why Mr. Spacely keeps giving him a big fat “NO!”

Technology matches reality: Although the “over-easy” option that flipped Mr. Spacely is a nice touch, we bypassed the rolling massage tables. Our electric massage tables even tilt or stand on wheels, but I wouldn’t recommend using it during a company meeting unless you really are trying to look unbothered.

On the technology to-do list (I want it): I can only speak for Chicagoans, but the amount of construction we see in summer months and the slow-as-molasses building projects that take years to complete are annoying. To avoid frustrating road detours and traffic jams, I’m 100 percent on board with “Instant Cement” builders. Mr. Spacely complaining about “the old days when it took them a week to put up a building” is fine with me too!

And as mentioned in a previous post, I still do not understand why apparel companies are taking so long to create virtual fitting rooms in the United States. As popular as online shopping is, you’d think more companies would be beating each other down to create these. Jane is forever using these virtual fitting rooms to decide what she wants to wear for formal events.

Technology gone wrong: If Instant Cement can build something so tall that it doesn’t meet regulations, this building option needs to be able to push the cement over six inches. If you can build up, build left and right, too.

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Photo credit: Create Her Stock

Episode 23

The wildest part to see as an adult: Get rid of this cat, and bring back Astro. The vacuum feels how I feel about cats as pets, and this cat just randomly showed up on this episode out of nowhere.

Technology matches reality: The Jetson family tried to warn us about tendinitis, or “smartphone thumbs,” from pressing too many buttons. Jane also has what looks like “technostress.”

On the technology to-do list (I want it): Stagecoach rides without actual horses? Sign me up. I love the ride without the animal cruelty. Also, the Express Tube would come in handy when you can’t find your maintenance person. Head first, body underneath and the repairs are made immediately.

Technology gone wrong: In real life, I felt bad for my brother’s cat, Lucy, who was terrified of the vacuum. I have no idea if electric vacuums are this bad, in general, but this one steadily keeps trying to eat this cat.

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Photo credit: Pixabay/Pexels

Episode 24

The wildest part to see as an adult: Two decades later, and I still have found absolutely no use for algebra in my everyday life. With the amount of robots on this show, they should be able to press buttons and not worry about math anymore. I don’t even see calculators in Elroy’s class. Bleh.

Technology matches reality: I feel sorry for teachers these days. That kid in the classroom watching TV shows on his watch is far too realistic for anyone who buys a smartwatch for someone under the age of 18.

On the technology to-do list (I want it): I can say with certainty that some parents have put their kids in Uber and Lyft ride-sharing services to avoid taking them to school — high school specifically. Personally I would’ve opted for it, too, instead of standing on the bus stop. But this elevator that shoots kids to the playground, movies, school, park or zoo is even better for parents.

Technology gone wrong: I have enough trouble trying to keep my hair presentable when the wind blows. I don’t need to space board to school, work or anywhere else. Then again, this does look like a fun way to get to my destination if I couldn’t care less whether my hair is all over my head.


Click here to find out how I felt about Episodes 1–8 and Episodes 9–16.

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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