That’s right! Some of the most beloved television shows and feature films have predicted some of the greatest events of our time.
Don’t Laugh, It Might Be True
Satires and sitcoms keep us entertained, but they also seem to have revelatory powers once you get beyond the laughs. One show, in particular, has been prophetic on several occasions regarding the most impactful events of the decade. The Simpsons, currently in its 30th season, has accurately predicted the future more than 20 times. Here are some of the most notable:
Donald Trump’s Presidency
This one was really weird. In the episode, “Bart to the Future,” Lisa has become the successor to Donald Trump’s presidency. Nearly 20 years later, Trump sits as our commander in chief.
Back in 1997, Marge showed Bart a book titled “Curious George and the Ebola Virus.” Though the Ebola virus existed long before the notorious outbreak in 2014, it wasn’t a mainstream concern in the ‘90s.
Nobel Prize Winner
Six years before Bengt Holmström won the Nobel Prize, The Simpsons guessed it would happen.
Disney Buying Fox
1998’s “When You Dish Upon A Star” revealed that 20th Century Fox was “a division of The Walt Disney Co.” The monopolizing of industries came into fruition last year.
The Simpsons is not the only comic TV series with prophetic tendencies. 30 Rock, which ran for seven seasons, also played a hand in predicting the current president. In the show’s second season, Jack Donaghy (played by Alec Baldwin) is a conservative businessman who decided to get into politics. When he began working for the Bush administration, he echoed a phrase almost identical to Trump’s 2016 campaign when he said, “We have a chance to make this country great again.” Crazy how Baldwin imitates Trump now on Saturday Night Live.
A case of life imitating art?
Some TV shows were just ahead of their time. Shows that existed long before the invention of the iPhone configured their versions of the technology we use today.
Did Apple invent the Apple watch or did The Jetsons? The famous sci-fi sitcom introduced concepts of advanced technology as early as the ‘60s. Check out a few of their inventions:
The adults often used their watches for video communication while the kids used them for entertainment.
Rosie served as a robotic maid for the Jetson family. She cooked, cleaned, and helped out around the house. Today we have robot vacuums, which are not entirely on Rosie’s level, but still useful.
The Jetsons also pioneered Facetime. In the series, they used this technology to communicate with their loved ones. However, the Jetsons aren’t the only hotshots of the 20th century. The various Star Trek installations have also introduced many forms of smart technology. Star Trek had it all, from virtual assistants to cell phones.
Star Trek: The Next Generation used PADDS (Personal Access Data Devices). Today we call them tablets or Ipads.
The Star Trek series also used personal communicators, which we call cell phones. They also had hands free phones, Bluetooth headsets, and GPS.
Big Screen Displays
Big screens were commonly used through the Star Trek series and films. Along with this came teleconferencing, which wouldn’t be done in real life until decades later.
A Sign of the Times
Film and TV shows have also predicted some of the worst moments in American history.
Take Spike Lee’s 1989 classic, Do the Right Thing. It’s shocking how the death of Radio Raheem directly mirrors the tragic death of Eric Garner in 2014. Television has also come too close to real life. Certain episodes were even pulled because they were too close to the truth.
In the pilot episode of The Lone Gunmen, one of the characters discover a secret plan to crash planes into the World Trade Center. Six months later, we experience one of the most tragic moments in American history.
Buffy, The Vampire Slayer, is said to have predicted the Columbine Shooting because of the episode entitled, “Earshot.” This episode was initially set to air one week after the Columbine massacre in 1999 but was pulled because the content was too close to the tragedy.
Social Credit System
The "Nosedive" episode of Black Mirror is set in a world where people can rate each other from one to five stars for every interaction they have, which can impact their socioeconomic status. In 2018, Business Insider reported that by 2020, the Chinese Government will have implemented a vast ranking system that will monitor the behavior of its enormous population, and rank them all based on their "social credit." Like private credit scores, a person's social score can move up and down depending on their behavior. The exact methodology is a secret — but examples of infractions include bad driving, smoking in non-smoking zones, and buying too many video games. Being that China first announced the program in 2014 (and "Nosedive" aired in 2016), it may not have been a prediction, since we don't know how long ago the episode was developed. Nonetheless, how creepy is that?
In conclusion, art is a powerful medium. It is used to tell truths and depict reality. Sometimes even before it happens. As time continues, it will be interesting to see what more our TV shows and films have come to predict.