Disney Made a House of the Future

Disney Made a House of the Future: Part I
Disney Made a House of the Future: Part II
Disney Made a House of the Future: Part III

In the Autumn 2021 issue we interviewed Jack Plotnick about his brilliant Science Fiction dramedy Space Station 76. A click on his name in the previous sentence will bring one up to speed on his active and enterprising career. This includes writing Disaster, a vastly entertaining Broadway musical based on 1970’s disaster movies, which has been taken up by schools and community theaters around the country. Also he has a wonderful commercial now running for Allstate.

Perhaps the most engaging of Plotnick’s wide-ranging works are his comedy shorts on YouTube. Here he is posting a series which exceeds in conception and execution any of his previous creations, though these have given us some of the champagne moments of YouTube comedy viewing.

The new shorts develop Plotnicks’s fascination with Disneyland in a manner that can only be called pleasantly distressing. We spoke to him about these in a brief interview.

96 Your film Space Station 76 echoed the 1970’s Brady Bunch era idealized suburban life your parents tried, with uneven success, to live in. Is your Disney series a similar  dystopian parable of life as it was supposed to be?

JP My love for Disneyworld was instilled by my parents, who brought us there repeatedly. Even when we couldn’t afford to go in, we’d go there and pretend to be guests and sneak into the hotel. I fell in love with it because it was the site of some of my family’s happiest memories. Also, as a creative kid, I immediately glommed onto the concept of Imagineering. But, just as in Space Station’s fantasy of a 1970’s world of the future, Disney connects me with my family’s happier times.

96 The female characters in the short, like all your female characters, seen to fullest advantage in Girls Will Be Girls, are great memorable comic characters. Particularly the Selma Diamond-like chain-smoking woman. Where do these personae come from? Are they drawn from life?

JP The smoking lady was born from an actual Imagineer in a Disney TV show; there was something about her look, she’s all in pink and she’s got this swoop of black hair, and she looks very together. Then I introduced another woman who was in love with the It’s a Small World ride—while the first woman, the one with the cigarette, couldn’t understand why anyone would like it. Then her cigarette suggested she should be constantly taking cigarette breaks.

96 So, the characters evolved from improvisation?

JP That’s what I really like about art, it just takes on a life of its own. I get to know the characters at the same time the audience does, and more with each video. And of course, since all the women are played by me, they all have different makeup, different opinions and attitudes. It’s been fun seeing each of them become an independent person. Almost independently of me!

But they do come from me. Harriet is my more innocent side—they’re all aspects of me.

96 I think any woman who watches these would be entertained by the feminist subtext. They guys are all creepy, even Walt is slightly creepy, but best of all are John with the moustache and his friend with the pocket-protector. The women are all dialing back their resentment so it doesn’t show—that much.

JP I’m a feminist at heart, and I want to represent women with real-life fullness. The 1960’s were a long time before Me Too. I wasn’t aware of it when I was young, but when I watch old footage there’s a lot of attitudes on display that wouldn’t fly today.

96 One of the aspects of that Madmen era of populuxe is the bizarre recipes, of which we get a sample in your aspic extravaganza. Ladies’ magazines from the sixties and seventies regularly show the hallucinatory meals a good homemaker was supposed to provide.

JP It’s mind-boggling to look at it now. Why were they eating that? Did it seem to them futuristic? Or really modern?

96 Often these were described as “meals your man will really like!”

JP Yeah. Did they really like them?!?! I love it that they made aspics in molds for the full effect, but had the option of dressing down such elegance by using it in a sandwich. And those daily details make the audience believe they’re entering the world of the Imagineers. To draw the viewer into it as a real world, not just as a comedic sketch.

96 So what’s with dosing Harriet?

JP I have a lot planned, but it’s hard for me to know how much of it you’ve already put together.

96 Well, she’s fed treated Doritos, after which her brain starts glitching and she goes into Bollywood-like dance numbers.

JP That does appear to have happened, yes. It’s designed as a mystery, and I’m glad to see you’re following the clues.

96 It’s hard to know what’s real and what isn’t, since scene where Harriet’s hanging from tubes like something out of The Matrix reframes the narrative.

Then there’s that strangely poignant scene where Harriet finds the woman weeping in the underground corridor. Like something from Alice in Wonderland, though this should probably be called Matrons in Disneyland.

JP I promise all will be revealed in the last episode. It’s a doozy.

image: future world plaza, wikimedia

Scroll to Top