Meet the Flintstones, they’re the modern stone-age family. You may grow up loving the adventures of Fred, Wilma, Barney, and Betty. How many of the things only adults notice in the Flintstones did you ever pick up on?
The show is a pop-culture sensation back in the sixties when the first airing. The franchise spawns spin-offs, movies, merchandise, and more. With relatable characters and storylines, the show has entertained millions the whole world over.
Every year, through reruns of the shows six seasons, a new generation of children meets the Flintstones for the very first time. And, just like when you were a kid, they fall in love with these funny and loveable characters.
However, if you take a look back at the show through the eyes of an adult, you’ll notice a lot of stuff that you just didn’t pick up on when you were a kid. You’ll find a world full of complex, and very often dark problematic issues.
In this video, we’ll take a deep dive into some of the things that you may have missed in The Flintstones when you were young.
The Flintstones Was Based On the Honeymooners
If you’re old enough to remember it, or you’re a fan of 1950s television, you may have picked up on the fact that the Flintstones is remarkably similar to a popular comedy series called The Honeymooners.
This early American sitcom ran from 1955 and featured a heavy-set lead character who was under-employed, lazy, loud, and boorish. Sound Familiar?
Fred Flinstone was clearly based on The Honeymooners’ Ralph Kramden. But the similarities between the two shows didn’t end there.
The Honeymooners was another show that was tame enough for buttoned-up mid-century American TV, but it had similar adult undertones making the show work on more than one level.
Kramden drove a bus, while Flinstone drove a dinosaur in a quarry. Both men butt heads with their long-suffering wives and both men are best of friends with the guy next door.
Living next door to Fred was Barney Rubble, of course. While Ralph’s neighbor was a guy named Ed Norton. The two sounded exactly the same.
Both shows see their lead couple threaten each other with physical violence. “one of these days, Alice, boom, straight to the moon” Ralph would say. We’d also see Fred threaten Wilma in a similar way.
And, while we never saw Fred hit Wilma, we’d often see Wilma hit Fred if he did something she didn’t like.
The Animals Were the Mod-Cons
One of the most amusing conventions of the Flintstones was that the animals and other stone-age creatures all served a purpose to fulfill the many household tasks that modern appliances might do.
For instance, the elephant with a trunk full of water was used as a garden hose, the rabbit’s ears used as a TV antenna, and a swordfish that worked as a kitchen knife.
Sometimes we’d see the animal breaking the forth-wall and talking directly to the audience, usually about the cruel nature of the work that they are forced to do.
Think of the alarm whistle in Fred’s workplace- the bird who has its nail yanked.
It would seem that animal cruelty ran deep in The Flinstones. While kids may giggle at some of the ingenious ways that animals are used in the show, adults will possibly be left questioning the morality of a society that uses beasts of burden in this manner.
The Show Tackled Issues Of Infertility
Despite the fact that there are aspects of the show which may seem like they belong in the stone age, there were progressive elements. It may seem normal for kids these days to see people talking about major life issues in shows, but back in the sixties, this was something revolutionary.
One issue that the cartoon tackled was Barney and Betty Rubble’s inability to naturally conceive a child like the Flintstones.
Back in February 1963, Wilma gave birth to Pebbles on the show. After this, the Rubbles spent a lot of time around the new baby and they really wanted one for themselves. Since they can’t seem to have a child for themselves, they end up wishing on a falling star.
The following day, their wish had seemingly been answered. They find that Bamm Bamm, a very strong baby, has been left on their door in a basket. Then, the couple has to deal with all of the complexity of having to legally adopt the child.
The fact that it looks as though they won’t get to keep the baby pushes the Rubbles to the brink, and Barney even tried to commit suicide only to be stopped by Fred.
Does this sound like a kid’s show to you?
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The Flintstones Was Littered With Adult Jokes
Just because The Flintstones is animated, it doesn’t mean that it was a show that was just for kids. This was a show that featured adults in the lead roles and was really designed for an adult audience. The plotlines in the show also deal with adult problems. But the show was also full of dirty jokes- and these went straight over the heads of the younger audience – and apparently the ABC censors.
There are some stone-age puns about adult movies. While getting a checkup with the doctor, the doctor holds up Fred’s x-ray prompting Flintstone to say “How about it Doc? Flintstone in an x-ray-ted picture.”
In one episode, Fred and Barney pay a visit to a costume store. Fred asks Barney if he wants a costume with another head, Barney asks him what he needs with three heads, implying he has a second head between his legs.
This isn’t the only time Barney alludes to his genitals. Barney is watching TV in one episode when Fred asks him how his antennae is. Barney replies “fine, friend, how’s yours?”
The Humour Rocks
The Flintstones was full of rock-solid puns. Every aspect of the world and every person has a stone-age pun as their name. It has to be said, but some of the puns work better than others. For example, Wilma would take a trip to Rockapulco, who Fred worked for Mr. Slate.
There were also send-ups of popular celebrities of the day including Rock Pile-Hudstone (a play on Rock Hudson) and Jackie Kennerock (a riff on Jackie Kennedy)
Kids these days probably have no idea who half of these people are, but at the time the puns probably rocked.
The Flintstones Celebrated Christmas Before the Birth of Christ
The great thing about The Flintstones is that kids can just let a lot of stuff go straight over their heads. Adults may cast more of a critical eye on the show though.
One of the basic tenets of the show is that The Flintstones live a modern stone-age life. Yes, they have animals doing the jobs of many modern appliances, however, they still have TV, movies, radio, and fast food. This could make adults raise a few eyebrows. How do they come to possess such advanced technology?
One out-there fan theory suggests that they are not living in the past, but living in the distant future. An apocalypse has destroyed life as we know it and the world is in a new stone age. This leaves the surviving humans to recreate the world that they remember using whatever is available now.
This explains how The Flinstones can celebrate Christmas even though the stone age came a long time before the birth of Jesus.
Dino and Juliet
Just like many of the classic sitcoms of the 1960s, The Flintstones was not serialized. This means that every episode stood on its own. Whatever situation Fred, Wilma, Barney, and Betty found themselves in, the resolution would always see them back to square one, ready for the next episode. Kids can easily get on board with this. They’re able to enjoy the show for what it is on the surface.
Adults, on the other hand, are well-versed in the way that relationships and life work. They expect to see how life develops for the show’s protagonists. For example, they may want to know what happens after the events of the episode “Dino and Juliet”
In this pastiche of the classic Shakespeare play “Romeo and Juliet”, Fred Flinstone falls out with a new neighbor and enters into a heated feud (just like the Montagues and Capulets) however, instead of their teenage children falling in love, their pet dinosaurs do. Dino instantly falls head over tail for Juliet, a dinosaur that looks a lot like Dino, only smaller.
Dino and Juliet sneak off together and do what dinosaurs that love each other very much do and this results in lots of baby dinosaurs being born.
But, once the episode ends, we never see Juliet or the babies again. Is Dino an absentee father? Do kids not wonder where baby dinosaurs come from? And what kids know the plotlines of Shakespeare plays anyway? There’s so much to go over the heads of kids in this episode.
So, what do you think of The Flinstones? Was it written for adults, or purely a kid’s show? Let us know in the comments below.
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