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.

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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.

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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. 

4. Knobs


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!

5. Gambling


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.

6. Fishing


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.

8. Commercials


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.

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KirwoodDerby 13 months ago
I remember when we first got cable tv in 1972, our local cable station offered BINGO Games that could be played from your living room. I assume you had to buy the cards in advance, but I remember thinking that this was the future of tv. It never caught on here but I'm surprised someone hasn't figured out how to allow old Mabel next door to play her local BINGO Game without having to leave her house on a snowy Friday night. There's a good way for the ladies auxiliary to raise some easy money. Probably on line, of course.
TheSentinel 13 months ago
Regarding #8, commercials can be skipped if you recorded shows on a PVR, so that's the next best thing.
RicksMeTV 13 months ago
Thank you to MeTV for sharing these with us. . . As the variety of Comments below confirms, the subject is close to a lot of "Long-time Fans"!
In the 1980s and early 1990's we raised our 2 children without TV . . . ONLY had Disney movies on the VHS to show them. Now that they are married and have families of their own, they are all TV Addicts!
Lacey 13 months ago
Wow, were you way off on #10. Not only do we have it, but it is the bulk of the internet, which is how a significant portion of us watch "TV."
As for # 3, with our cellphones being a TV we are taking it into the event room of the house including the bathroom. Have you SEEN the "Alien Tape" commercials ?
Great look at the predictive ability of "futurists."
rockaria 13 months ago
I don't watch TV, but my mom had her's on all the time. I'd be talking with her on the phone, she'd be distracted, changing channels and saying, "There's nothing to watch." I'd remind her that the button she used to turn on the TV would also turn it off. Long ago I had cable TV service. There was very little I enjoyed watching, so I had it shut off back in 2002, and have not had (nor wanted) any type of TV service since then.
Wiseguy70005 rockaria 13 months ago
Right....or as they used to say "I only watch PBS!"
Wiseguy70005 13 months ago
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mugens TheSentinel 13 months ago
You really had to go there? So sad and I'm being as nice as possible when I say that.
TheSentinel mugens 13 months ago
Apparently whoever got the comment removed didn't like the truth and got triggered (though I can still see it in my posting history).
JudyG46 13 months ago
#10 reminds me of a newer cellphone that can flip open to enlarge the screen!!!
rvoyttbots 13 months ago
When DVRs first became available, you could flush ads. But there was such a backlash from advertisers, the ability was flushed.
RicksMeTV rvoyttbots 13 months ago
Good Memory! Most people don't even have one of these OLD Recorders. . . But I do AND still use it!
Love being able to not even get the commercials showing up on the recorded version!
Kramden62 RicksMeTV 13 months ago
Me, too. I'm already on my *third* DVD/VCR deck over the last three years (I've had to buy them from ebay); whenever I take the decks to a repair shop I'm told they cannot be repaired. I think that is a *crock!*

I've tried those DVR tuner/recorders. They are cheaply made and burn out within a month. But, like you said, with a DVD recorder I can edit out all the commercials. Plus, if I like a show I can keep the disc for posterity if I wish.
TheSentinel rvoyttbots 13 months ago
Not with my PVR, I can easily skip the ads I don't want to see (or just skip 'em altogether) with a few hits of the skip forward button.
LalaLucy 13 months ago
Some interesting and astute observations on humanity here and the growing dependenceon technology. Many have come to be in one form or another.
CoreyC 13 months ago
#8 would come in handy for the My Pillow and Kars 4 Kids commercials.
Wiseguy70005 CoreyC 13 months ago
My Pillow should be arrested for making obviously false statements.
Adanor 13 months ago
Let's look at #7, specifically the following: "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." THIS STATEMENT contains a boatload of IRONY as METV, Cozi, Buzzer all run shows from the '50's, 60's, and '70's. I happened to catch an episode of "To Tell the Truth" which featured a man who had written a book about the future, the 2000's. Some of his predictions were way off base and others were right on target. The ones that were right on target related to climate and the environment. Oh dear.
Ira1213 Adanor 13 months ago
Well put! You summed it up quite well!
cperrynaples 13 months ago
The punchline of 7 is that this guy goes to the movies and sees the same gunfight! In other words, the 2 mediums weren't that different in the '50's!
Kramden62 cperrynaples 13 months ago
*Now* I remember this short, from what you just described. As I said in other postings, I'm not too much of a fan of the MGM cartoons - I prefer Warner Bros.' Looney Toons - but this one is one of those few that were good.
theFAN2000 cperrynaples 13 months ago
So true. Many of the TV shows back in the day were from the movie serials. Be it Our Gang/Little Rascals or Flash Gordon. Even the original Battlestar Galactica was a movie that was turned into the pilot for the show.
cperrynaples 13 months ago
A comment on 10: technically expanded screens do exist, but they went horizontal, not vertical as in shown!
LoveMETV22 13 months ago
Sure the gentleman on the story's main page:

is happy the picture didn't end up like it did in The Three Stooges "A Plumbing We Will Go."

LoveMETV22 13 months ago
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chris70 13 months ago
Would have to disagree with number 7. Even now with a thousand channels of TV to watch I will flip thru them for 30 minutes trying to find something worthwhile to watch that isn't trash, filth, or certain groups of people shoving their lifestyles down my throat and calling it normal. Miss the 5 or 6 channels I had in the 70s when I was a kid. There was always something good to watch back then. Thank God for MeTV.
Wiseguy70005 chris70 13 months ago
What about Antenna TV, Rewind TV, COZI TV, etc.?
Kramden62 Wiseguy70005 13 months ago
They enjoy chopping up and illegibly condensing the closing credits of the programs they air. At least MeTV and its sister channel Catchy leave all closing credits intact.

RetroTV was good at first, but they keep showing the same old things over and over again, mostly because much of the product they air is in the public domain. Retro also has exclusive deals with Film Rise and SFM Entertainment; the former company's product doesn't appeal that much to me since those are mostly Australian and European shows.
LoveMETV22 13 months ago
''TV of Tomorrow''
Another vision thought of in a fictional sense. Never came true, but would have been fun.
cperrynaples LoveMETV22 13 months ago
Fun Fact: Mike Teevee grew up to be a contestant on Jeopardy, so in a way HIS dream came true!
Bapa1 13 months ago
I know it was a cartoon, but did they consider a remote control device?
cperrynaples Bapa1 13 months ago
That wouldn't exist until a few years later!
Bapa1 cperrynaples 13 months ago
My point exactly, TV of the future.
Handlebar62 cperrynaples 13 months ago
Actually, Zenith introduced a wired TV remote in 1950. So that was already "a thing" in 1953. The wireless remote came along in '55.
Matsui 13 months ago
Number 10 could be interpreted as X Rated or XXX Rated programming, so it became true for several cable channels.
Matsui 13 months ago
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