The Simpsons' Disney Plus Aspect Ratio Is All Wrong, But It's Being Fixed In Early 2020 [Update]
Yes, you're in deep d'oh now.
Update: In a statement to AV Club, a Disney+ spokesperson wrote that the original aspect ratio for all The Simpsons' episodes will be back. "We presented The Simpsons in 16:9 aspect ratio at launch in order to guarantee visual quality and consistency across all 30 seasons," the spokesperson wrote. "Over time, Disney+ will roll out new features and additional viewing options. As part of this, in early 2020, Disney+ will make the first 19 seasons (and some episodes from Season 20) of The Simpsons available in their original 4:3 aspect ratio, giving subscribers a choice of how they prefer to view the popular series." Our original story follows.
Disney+ has launched today, offering a wide variety of streaming movies and shows from Disney to Star Wars to Marvel and more. Thanks to the acquisition of 21st Century Fox, among that vast Disney+ library is all 30 seasons of the classic animated comedy The Simpsons, but some older episodes are suffering for the transition, and fans are not pleased with the end result. At least the 16 essential The Simpsons episodes still hold up in the ratio.
All the classic Simpsons episodes on Disney+ are in cropped widescreen format -- this means you miss out on tons of great visual jokes, like how Duff, Duff Lite and Duff Dry all come from the same tube. pic.twitter.com/cTy9adulFl— Tristan Cooper (@TristanACooper) November 12, 2019
The streaming service presents The Simpsons in widescreen format, which works fine for newer seasons after the show adopted that aspect ratio. Older episodes, though, were built for a more squarish 4:3 aspect ratio, which means putting them into widescreen trims bits of the top and bottom. That can be a problem for a show like The Simpsons, which frequently puts visual gags in those areas. As shown in the tweet below, some jokes like this one from the Season 4 episode "Duffless" just go entirely missing when viewed on Disney+.
There doesn't appear to be any way to change your format preference in the Disney+ interface, which means you may just have to miss out on jokes in older Simpsons seasons. There was a similar backlash when FXX aired episodes on its channel and app in widescreen in 2014. The app updated a few months later with an option to watch in 4:3 ratio. For now, if you want to watch our favorite family without the compromises, you can start about halfway through Season 20, when the show became natively presented in 16:9 aspect ratio.
Other fans have noted that, much to their disappointment, the Disney+ versions of episodes are lacking the commentary tracks that were offered on the Simpsons World app through FXX. Also of note, but less surprising, is that one Simpsons episode is missing from Disney+--the one starring Michael Jackson.
Of course, that assumes you can use the service at all. The launch day demand appears to be causing some technical issues. You may be eligible for a year free through Verizon, and you can check out how to watch on various platforms. Some fans who have been diving into the massive catalog have also noticed that Disney put up a disclaimer on older, possibly culturally insensitive films.
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