Many TV shows, books and movies attempt to guess how technology will advance in the future, and some are more successful than others. The Simpsons, for example actually predicted video phones and hands-free devices – although they also predicted that airline technology would regress significantly.
Season 6, Episode 19 of The Simpsons did this in an episode about Lisa’s 2010 wedding which aired on March 19, 1995. In this episode, a fortune teller at a carnival shows Lisa’s future love, and there are glimpses of the technology in 2010.
Video Phones in the Future
Video conferencing is used on a daily basis by many, whether it is via applications such as Skype on a tablet or laptop computer, or though FaceTime on smartphones.
Apple’s FaceTime is just one example of cell-phone-based video conferencing, allowing users to make calls over WiFi or the network using the cameras built into their iPhone, iPad, Mac or iPod Touch. There is no need to sign up for anything, which makes it very similar to the video calls that Lisa and Marge Simpson were making in the ‘futuristic’ Simpsons episode.
Bart Simpson uses a wrist communication device, a common thread in Sci-Fi future technology. The episode portrayed the use of the wrist-phone similarly to the way that people use cell phones. The phone could also be a hands-free BlueTooth-style device, as seen when Bart is talking to his mother while simultaneously operating heavy machinery.
A Backwards Step in Technology
As a joke, The Simpsons took a backwards step in technology when it came to flying from England to the United States. Instead of flying in planes that we use today – which are constantly being upgraded to be more advanced, more comfortable, and to offer better entertainment for passengers – the planes have taken a step backwards to the original designs from The Wright Brothers. There is a mention in the episode about how the more technical advanced planes were medieval designs.
Technology That Stayed the Same
Unlike many TV shows and movies set in the past, The Simpsons kept a number of gadgets the same. Vending machines worked the same as always but used cards as a way to pay, and elevators still appeared to work the same as ever. It seems the writers didn’t expect technology to advance too much in the space of 15 years, which added some sensibility to the comedy show.
Entertainment Predicting the Future
TV shows will always attempt to predict the future. Technology like video calls and hand-free kits have become extremely popular in recent years, whether through BlueTooth devices, the use of FaceTime or “Skyping” with relatives on the other side of the world. Apart from the spoof backwards step with planes, it appears The Simpsons weren’t too far off with their predictions.
IMDb. The Simpsons “Lisa’s Wedding”. Accessed January 15, 2013.
Apple iOS. FaceTime. (2013). Accessed January 15, 2013.