As people have always taken pleasure in picturing life in the first stages of society, a cartoon was designed as an analogy between today’s social order and an era when people’s means of getting by were, to put it mildly, slightly different. The animated series called The Flintstones made its debut in 1960, being yet another success of Hanna-Barbera Productions. It’s based on the lifestyles of two families, the Flintstones and the Rubbles, who live in an uncertain period at the very beginning of civilization, presumably the Stone Age. The humor and ingeniousness does not consist, as one would expect from a cartoon, of surreal adventures, but of the daily minutia of the characters’ ordinary life, as they raise a family, work and socialize; the amusement comes from the fact that those aspects are not common knowledge but are left to the producers’ fruitful imagination.
The Flintstone family unit comprises Fred (his full name being Frederick Joseph Flintstone), his wife Wilma and their baby daughter Pebbles, plus extended family that only features periodically. Fred is a typical exponent of the male gender, apparently insensitive, grumpy and easily irritable, but in reality hard working, kindhearted and well-intended, doing his best to fulfill his duty as a provider. He works in a quarry and sometimes gets mixed-up in undesirable events which cause tension between himself and his life partner, Wilma, who considers herself more sensible and responsible. Wilma is the average homemaker, tending to the her daughter, the household chores and her husband’s needs, as well as putting up with his short-tempered personality. Wilma does at times transpire as being slightly cleverer than Fred.
Their somewhat outlandish pets, a baby dinosaur called Dino and a saber tooth cat, Baby Puss, are almost omnipresent. Dino has proved to be very popular with the younger public. Fred’s best friend and companion in nearly all his adventures is Barney Rubble, who lives next door to him and is married to Betty; not surprisingly, she happens to be very good friends with Wilma. They have an adopted son, a baby boy named “Bamm Bamm”, who received his name in concordance with the only word he speaks, “bamm”, and possesses an abnormal physical strength for his young age. The Rubbles have a queer pet as well, Hoppy the “hopparoo”, a fictional cross-breed between a kangaroo and a dinosaur.
A strong source of humour in this series is the replacement of modern everyday gadgets with unlikely alternatives; for instance, instead of a brush being used, the vacuum cleaner is substituted by a baby mammoth, using his trump to collect the rubbish on the floor, or the use of a pelican’s beak for a washing machine. Therefore, the animation does not intend to highlight the differences defining two phases of development with a huge time gap in between, but merely to make a parody of contemporary society. Some would say this amusing analogy is meant to suggest that mankind has always possessed superior traits associated with the modern age, whilst some would opt for the vice versa instead.