Disney Had A Simple Message For The Simpsons After The Fox Merger

When you've been on the air for as long as "The Simpsons" has, it's funny to think about all of the ways in which the family has remained the same age while the world around them continues to evolve. The animated sitcom is just about to enter its 34th season, which means that the series has somehow managed to come up with fresh story ideas for over three decades since its 1989 premiere. It's wild to consider the amount of history "The Simpsons" have lived through, and there's one event in particular that stood a chance of affecting the series in a major way.

The merger between Disney and 20th Century Fox, which has now been rebranded as 20th Century Studios, was three and a half years ago, and it reshaped the face of the film and TV industry. And it's easy to imagine that it could've also reshaped "The Simpsons," which was the property of Fox.

We're still rightfully talking about the industry-wide ramifications of that merger. When it came to the chaotic Springfield family, "Simpsons" executive producer Al Jean told Digital Spy that he was told to essentially keep things the way they were:

"When we were bought, we were just told, 'You are who you are. Be yourself. And we'll try to let you do what you do,' and that's what's happened [...] The biggest side-effect is that we have another 120 million viewers on Disney+, which is great! I'm really happy about that."

The Simpsons came to Disney+ in the wrong aspect ratio

I haven't consistently watched newer episodes of "The Simpsons" in some time, but it's easy to see where the merger has influenced the series' brand in some ways. Shortly afterwards, the "Simpsons" crew put together a short video in which they welcome their new "corporate overlords," with a statue of Darth Vader and former Disney CEO Bob Iger behind them. The Disney reign had begun, and with it came a few bumpy developments.

For one, when the series was uploaded to Disney+, folks were understandably peeved because most of the series' earliest episodes, which were broadcasted in a 4:3 aspect ratio, were cropped to a 16:9 widescreen format, which cut off entire jokes.

A correction was made nearly six months later, but it wasn't exactly a great first impression.

The Disney+ shorts aren't exactly a boost of confidence

"The Simpsons" have practically made it their duty to lambast their parent company at every chance they could get. They weren't afraid to dig the knife into the buffoonery of Fox, which makes the recent influx of Disney+ shorts feel a bit ... regressive.

"Pulisversary" and "The Good, the Bad, and the Loki" don't resemble what the "Simpsons" had been able to accomplish with their earlier shorts such as "The Longest Daycare" and "Playdate With Destiny." They are more or less glorified advertisements for the streaming service, with Lisa flat out singing out how much great stuff there is on there while the Disney characters gather around her.

"The Simpsons," while still producing some decent episodes every now and then, lacks the bite it once had. There's a moment in "The Simpsons Movie" where Bart positions a black bra on his head, emulating the look of Mickey Mouse, and says "I'm the mascot of an evil corporation." Cut to 14 years later, in which the "Plusiversary" short shows Bart dressed from head-to-toe as Mickey, but in a manner to promote the streaming service.

It's following the Disney tradition of puppeteering the 20th Century acquisitions to serve their own brand. While the changes haven't fully shaped the new era of the "Simpsons," the mouse is gonna do what the mouse is gonna do.

Seasons 1 through 32 of "The Simpsons," in addition to the shorts, are currently streaming on Disney+.