the simpsons on disney+ aspect ratio

You might not want to get rid of your The Simpsons Blu-rays and DVDs just yet. The long-running animated series is now streaming on Disney+, but here’s the problem: it’s in the wrong aspect ratio. The earlier – and best – seasons of the show have been stretched to a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio, which inadvertently ends up cutting off chunks of the screen. This is a particularly irksome problem for The Simpsons because the show is chock-full of visual gags, and many of those gags are now being cropped out of the frame.

The Simpsons is a show from a completely different era. You see, kids, back in the olden days – where I come from – we didn’t have widescreen TVs. Our TVs were blocky monstrosities that took up half the room, rested atop hideous media centers. As a result, many shows from this time were presented in a 4:3 aspect ratio. Now, you can easily present a show in 4:3 on a widescreen TV. The problem is that doing so would have black bars on the side of the screen. Which is fine, even though many people don’t think so. To help placate people who might complain, some shows in 4:3 have been stretched to 16:9 here in the age of streaming.

This stretching enables the image to fill the screen, but it also ends up cropping the frame. And that’s where issues arise. See for yourself:

The Simpsons didn’t switch over to a modern 16:9 aspect ratio until season 20, and The Simpsons on Disney+ is trying to compensate by stretching the earlier seasons – with dire results. Above you can see just one example of a sight gag that’s been ruined by this decision. And if you’ve watched The Simpsons you know it’s a show of many sight gags. As if that weren’t bad enough it looks as if some of the images have been stretched as well:

In short, this stinks. While it’s no doubt convenient to have a show like The Simpsons available to stream – getting up and changing multiple discs per season is a hassle – butchering the visuals of the show isn’t doing it any favors. When Fox had The Simpsons streaming on the FXX Simpsons World app it made earlier seasons available in 4:3. Here’s hoping Disney+ follows in their footsteps.

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