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‘The Simpsons’ Is Streaming on Disney+ in the Wrong Aspect Ratio

Fans are upset that the streaming service has stretched the episodes from their original 4:3 aspect ratio to the widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio.

"The Simpsons Movie"

“The Simpsons Movie”

Moviestore/Shutterstock

As of its launch day on Nov. 12, Disney+ has nearly 650 titles — both new and old — available to subscribers. One such title is “The Simpsons,” which has its first 30 seasons (out of 31) available to stream on the long-awaited platform. However, while that should be cause for celebration for long-time “Simpsons” heads — or even folks who want to finally get in on the series from the very beginning — instead it’s become cause for frustration.

That’s because the first 19 seasons of “The Simpsons” are currently streaming on Disney+ in the wrong aspect ratio, with the streaming service stretching the episodes from their original 4:3 aspect ratio to the now common widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio.

In the case of “The Simpsons,” instead of showing more with the stretching — because it’s animated, not live-action — it’s instead cropped the frame in order to look better post-stretching. This is particularly egregious because for a show heavy on visual gags like “The Simpsons,” said visual gags are now lost in translation (well, conversion) with the stretch to 16:9 aspect ratio. In this case, it might just be hip to be square.

It’s an issue that has plagued a number of older shows on streaming platforms — notably “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” which had production crew even showing up in shots because of the widescreen conversion. The shift allows these episodes to “fit” in modern widescreen televisions, as opposed to presenting as squares with black sidebars. (Those black bars were also decried by viewers — but it’s very debatable if they are worse than undercutting some of the content of the show.)

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Dorkly’s Tristan Cooper tweeted a couple of notable examples:

Fans expressed disappointment in the formatting, as did “Simpsons” writer Bill Oakley, who expressed his displeasure at the aspect ratio debacle in response to a now-deleted tweet.

This isn’t just a symptom of standard streaming procedure either, as Fox eventually made sure to stream “The Simpsons” (via the FXX Simpsons World app) in the appropriate 4:3 aspect ratio after having the same 16:9 aspect ratio issues.

Disney+ has the technology, as well as the proper aspect ratio, to at least make it an option. IndieWire has reached out to Disney+ for comment.

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