How Cathy Predicted The Downfall Of Human Civilization


Cathy will end its 34-year run in October, and though it will probably be remembered for its repetitive jokes involving chocolate and swimsuits, Cathy Guisewite’s strip was actually eerily prescient on the ills that bedevil us today.

In amongst the standard Cathy boilerplate (Guisewite could squeeze weeks of material out of a bad haircut or a trip to the accountant), these strips from 1996 offer a terrifying glimpse into our future. Let’s take a look:

Cathy’s dieting travails were not hers alone. Here, the strip predicts the obesity crisis and attending hysteria.

And the advent of low-carb diets, well before Atkins became a household name.

But food wasn’t Cathy’s only area of expertise. Add Guisewite to the list of Cassandras who predicted the financial crisis. Why didn’t we heed her words?

Not that Cathy’s own response to the impending crisis was particularly enlightened. She sounds like some of the young women surveyed recently by demographer Maddy Dychtwald, many of whom uttered some variation of, “I’d really like to have a man that could take care of me.” The more things change …

The more they sound like Sex and the City. Bushnell’s column ran in newspapers from 1994-96, and the show hit screens in 1998, but a lot of SATC tropes also cropped up in Cathy. The shoes, the dissection of dating life with girlfriends, the jokey feminism-lite — Cathy was like a downmarket Carrie, transplanted to middle America and middle (or lower) management. This may have been Guisewite’s greatest and most terrible prediction of all: that a prophetess would come to lightly critique American mores of shopping and dating, all while engaging in these pursuits to the detriment of all else. And that in celebration of this prophetess, we too would blow all of our money on expensive shit, including tickets to one of the worst movies ever made. Cathy, you are not needed anymore. The end times are upon us.

‘Cathy’ Comic Strip To End After 34 Years [CNN]

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