Leading up to Valentine’s Day, here’s a riddle for you: when it comes to love, when is the Stone Age equivalent to the Modern Age? (Hint: the answer is not present municipal politics in the city of Toronto).
I remember, back in the Stone Age days, running home from grade school for lunch and a thirty-minute spot of entertainment bliss that only antenna-led television could offer. Why the hurry? The world’s favourite animated couple (literally and figuratively), appeared on channel 9 during the top half of the noon hour. Watching their comedic adventures whilst eating a plate of pasta topped with homemade meatballs was ritual.
The Flintstones premiered on the ABC network in prime time evening television way back in the fall of 1960 – previously unheard of for an animated program. That’s not when I first started watching the show. For me, it was nearly a decade and a half later. The rock tires on my parents’ car had etched tread! But the fact that I watched the reruns of the show religiously was a testament to the longevity and influence of the “modern stone age family”.
Based on The Honeymooners, the draw of the show was the interaction between heavy-set, boisterous and five-o’clock-shadowed Fred, and his beautiful and shapely redhead wife, Wilma, she with the intoxicatingly cute dimples, eyes and giggle. Come to think of it, not only was Jackie Gleason referenced in the look of Fred, but Wilma’s esthetic look harkened Lucille Ball and every time I hear the words “Willlll-maaaa!” I’m also reminded of “Lucy, you got some ‘splainin to do!”
The relationship between the two Hanna-Barbara created characters was a bit of an odd one. You would be forgiven to think: “what is she doing with him?” Fred easily jumped to conclusions and Wilma often got him out of trouble. He would sometimes speak cruelly to her but she would always get her way. At the end of the day, Fred and Wilma poked fun at each other, got angry with each other, kissed each other, slept in the same bed together, raised a child together, took vacations together, played cards together, danced the twist, drank and ate together. Most importantly, they loved each other. For cartoon characters, they were the stuff of real relationships – in any era.
Their influence has been felt in pop-culture for over five decades. Married With Children wouldn’t exist without The Flintstones and neither would The Simpsons or Family Guy television series – all programs that aired or currently air in a primetime spot.
For a kid running home from school for lunch, I have to admit that in addition to the comedic antics of the Flintstones, Wilma was also my first love. Red hair played up against a furry white dress? She was always smokin’!
If you’ve forgotten how much, check out the vid: