Simpsons Fans Are Upset With Disney+ About Aspect Ratios (With Valid Reason)


Simpsons Fans Are Upset With Disney+ About Aspect Ratios (With Valid Reason)

The launch of Disney+ on Tuesday brought streaming fans a slew of content to binge, both new and old. Disney’s massive movie library hit the service at launch, along with an extensive catalog from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and an array of Star Wars movies to boot.

Once new customers watched the pilot episode of The Mandalorian, however, they may have gone back to some classic episodes of The Simpsons to see how they look. And many fans were disappointed by what they found, especially with streams of the old episodes. It’s a problem that any show that’s existed long enough to move from standard to high definition has struggled with: what aspect ratio do you broadcast the SD episodes in?

For The Simpsons on Disney+, it appears that old episodes have been cropped to make them 16:9 rather than their original 4:3 ratio. This is more than just a bunch of Martin Scorsese yelling at Marvel about cinematic merit, too. The change in aspect ratio makes for some weird visuals, as many pointed out on Twitter when the service launched on Tuesday.

Writer Tristan Cooper captured a few examples of the problems the ratio change presents here. Many of the visual jokes from the show are lost in the translation, getting cut off screen altogether. The joke here — that all three Duff beers are coming from the same tube — is totally lost on Disney+.

It’s not a matter of just showing the Simpsons in a different ratio here: it completely changes the show, sometimes making it less funny in the process. It’s something other streaming services have had to grapple with. The Wire fans were upset, for example, when the show’s aspect ratio was altered when Amazon Prime Instant got the rights to HBO shows.

Simpsons fans grappled with this problem when the show started airing on FXX in 2014, too. Some suspected that the Disney+ versions of Simpsons episodes were adapted from those FXX cuts. Former Simpsons showrunner Bill Oakley expressed his displeasure on Twitter on Tuesday, retweeting complaints about the aspect ratio on Disney+.

It seems pretty clear that fans want the old episodes in 4:3, or at least the option to change them back to their original aspect ratio if they want to see everything the show intended them to when it first aired. The Disney+ parody account on Twitter also chimed in.

We’ll see if Simpsons fans get their wish, but you have to feel for those who may tackle The Simpsons for the first time on the service. They’re certainly missing out.

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