The Jetsons: Who Needs Color in the Future Anyways?”

The Jetsons is an animated cartoon series about the nuclear Jetsons family living in a futuristic world. The show aired on ABC for its first season in 1962. After years of reruns, The Jetsons returned with new seasons on ABC, CBS, and NBC, from 1986 to 1987. It was the first show in color on ABC, and one of the first shows to be on all of the Big Three at the time.

Broadcast and cable have always been in competition. Viewers tuned into cable more often because there were more networks available than broadcast. It was clever of the producers of The Jetsons to broadcast on ABC, CBS, and NBC, during the post-network era because it gave the show the leg up with more air time, and more outlets to watch it from. As opposed to cable, yes having many networks, but shows were instead aired on single networks. Viewers were able to watch their respective shows on one of the Big Three broadcast networks, then watch The Jetsons without the interruption of having to change the channel.

Although The Jetsons technically had 3 seasons, it is accredited for only having one since further seasons came out 20+ years later. The Jetsons was going to be ahead of its time with its color televisuality. The bright neon colors were supposed to transport the audience, painting a futuristic world of robot maids, floating cars, and jetpacks. Instead, it fell through to its then audience, due to the noncolor/color dynamic. The show was produced and broadcasted in color, but less than 3% of households could view it in color, because a color tv was needed. The show was made to be bold and captivate its viewers with various shades of blues and purples as the floating carships zipped through the sky. But instead, there was dull shades of gray.

I chose two clips, one to show it in black and white, and another to show color. The black and white clip is a 1963 promotional commercial for The Jetsons. Without color the scenes are dull and only the use of advanced technology is alerting the viewers that they are in the future. Color advances the televisuality by creating depth in the scenes, and by making everything in general more appealing.

-Nina-Simone Avery

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