The Best Predictor, The Jetsons or Star Trek?

Both television shows debuted in the sixties. The Jetsons first aired in 1962. In fact, they celebrated their 50’th anniversary on September 23, 2012. Star Trek began in 1966. Which show was the best prognosticator of life in the new millennium?

In the sixties, most of adult America preferred going back in time for their entertainment and watched shows like Wagon Train, Gunsmoke and Bonanza. But the future is what grabbed young people like me. Our president was talking of sending a man to the moon. We believed in the future!

It’s easier to keep score for technology that made it from TV into real life. So, let’s start there:

The Jetsons Star Trek
flat screen TV optical media
video teleconferencing. voice recognition
portable media devices sliding doors
interactive TV wireless ear buds
household robots cell phones
microwave ovens
push button kitchens
airport communities

Sorry Star Trek. Battleship gray paint and plywood sets are no match for animation! I have to give The Jetsons a better score on technology. I know all you Trekkies out there will disagree, but you’re wrong! What’s more, the technology that did make it into real life from Star Trek is boring, and the tech that didn’t make it was just silly. From a star ship the size of a city, you could fly only one little car at a time!

How did the two do when it comes to sociology? This is much harder to score. Both series were airing at the same time America was being shocked out of  our “Leave it to Beaver” dream by the Vietnam war. George, Jane, Judy, Elroy and Astro helped us cling to the idea of a perfect family life. Star Trek by comparison was cold and military. I don’t know which show was the better predictor of future sociology but, I certainly know which one I hope was.


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For more on The Jetsons, from the Smithsonian:
The Jetsons at 50

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