Considering it ran for less than six years, the achievement of 1960s TV cartoon series the Flintstones is phenomenal. It remains a reference point to this day for cartoon creators and achieved second place in TV Guide’s Greatest TV Cartoon of All Time awards. The Flintstones was tremendously successful in financial terms, too, and stood for thirty years as the most lucrative animated franchise on network television.
The Flintstones story unfolds in the Stone Age town of Bedrock, but the chronology is mixed up for comic effect. Thus, the characters are seen engaging in 20th century activities such as going to restaurants, dealing with banks, playing records, driving vehicles and watching movies. This juxtaposition of contemporary life against a Stone Age setting is the brilliant concept that accounted for much of the show’s success. The timescale of human existence and that of prehistoric creatures is also jumbled, so the characters regularly encounter dinosaurs and sabre-toothed cats and keep them as pets.
These are the chief characters of The Flintstones:
- Fred Flintstone is the bullish husband of Wilma and a clumsy bronto-crane worker at the local Slate Rock and Gravel Company.
- Wilma Flintstone is Fred’s patient wife. Her levelheadedness and calm exterior keep him in check until he’s left to his own devices.
- Barney Rubble is Fred’s best pal and next-door neighbour. He and Fred often partake in leisurely activities such as bowling or golf.
- Betty Rubble is Barney’s wife and Wilma Flintstone’s best friend. She and Wilma have a habit of spending money unwisely, but generally act as foils to their husbands’ boyish antics.
Both couples eventually have children and pets: Pebbles Flintstone is Fred and Wilma’s young daughter, while Bamm-Bamm Rubble is Barney and Betty’s freakishly strong adopted son. Dino the dinosaur, Baby Puss the sabre-toothed cat and Hoppy the dinosaur/kangaroo are the pets.
Despite its huge popularity with the public, The Flintstones received mixed reviews from critics. Regardless, it continues to be regularly broadcast and enjoyed today. In 2016, Fred and Wilma Flintstone even featured in a British TV bank advert.