Five predictions from ''TV of Tomorrow'' that came true, and five that didn't
Five ways the toon got it right, and five funny ways it missed the mark.
Between 1949 and 1954, MGM Cartoons released a series of five "...of Tomorrow" shorts directed by Tex Avery, each providing parody insight into new technological advancements available to consumers. Mid-century Americans loved their appliances, and these cartoons lampooned our obsession with amenities and with convenience.
The 1953 edition was titled TV of Tomorrow, and it satirizes the then-new technology and its uncanny ability to monopolize our attention. In '53, TV-owning homes in America were still in the minority, but the rate was on the rise. This Tex Avery-directed short looked at all the wacky ways TVs might evolve to better serve us. And like all great science fiction, a lot of what was predicted here came true.
Here are five unexpected ways TV of Tomorrow got it right, and five predictions we're happy to do without.
1. Screens, screens will tear us apart
Here's one that Avery and co. were all too right about. Before long, our entertainment wouldn't just distract us from our day; Screens would grow to be so ubiquitous that now, they distract us from our loved ones, too. Make sure you spend some deliberately screen-free time with your friends and family today!
2. Integration into Other Appliances
This is another truth that probably seemed far-fetched in the fifties. TVs would be integrated into many appliances, with screens being put on tons of unexpected products. Many consumer-grade refrigerators have WiFi functionality, offering families entertainment and a customizable look at their food-related data.
3. Interior Design
While maybe not to the extent in this exaggerated cartoon, many rooms today are constructed with special attention given to the furniture's placement in relation to the TV. While most of us aren't installing a bathtub in the living room, televisions are nonetheless often the anchor, or focal point, in a room's design.
Tex Avery, along with writer Heck Allen, knew that convenience is king. They predicted a TV that would one day do away with those pesky knobs and dials that needed fine-tuning for a crisp picture. TV of Tomorrow highlighted the possibility of a television with but one knob, albeit a very complicated one. Little did they know we'd one day have touch screens!
This short foresaw a future where betting would be a part of the at-home sports-watching experience. What its creators couldn't have foreseen was just how ubiquitous sports betting would become. Services like Draft Kings and Fan Duel have made it easier than ever to get a piece of the action from your spot on the couch.
While video games become more immersive each year, we have not yet been given a fishing simulation quite as convincing as the one this man is experiencing here.
7. Nothing to Watch
While there are now near-infinite options from which to choose, many are still left feeling like their possibilities are limited. While there may not be nearly as many Westerns in production, so much of today"s TV is indistinguishable. As the "algorithm" becomes more important, TV decision-makers take fewer risks, and more and more shows resemble shows that are already on the air.
Unfortunately, we are still unable to flush advertisements down the garbage disposal. Corporate sponsors still have a lot of control over what's aired on network TV, and tons of streaming services still interrupt shows with ads. This is the advancement that most viewers probably wish came true.
9. Poker Face
You can watch card games on TV. You can play card games on the computer. We have not yet developed a system wherein a television can deal out a fair game of cards.
10. Whatever This Is
We still do not have this... Whatever this is.