Think back to a time before the coronavirus when the aspect ratio of a classic TV show seemed like a thing that mattered. It actually wasn’t that long ago that some drama was stirred up by the fact that every episode of The Simpsons on Disney+ had been crammed into widescreen format, even though the show was originally broadcast in a 4:3 aspect ratio. The new format didn’t just cut off some of the images but actually impacted sight gags.
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
Disney quickly responded to the outrage, as it wouldn’t do to have subscribers to your new streaming platform upset. The company said that it would be fixing the issue sometime in 2020 by allowing viewers to select whether or not they wanted to stream the show in the original broadcast ratio or widescreen. That sometime has come. Disney has announced that it is still working on the process but that we should all be able to stream the first 19 seasons (and part of the 20th) in glorious 4:3 by the end of May.
For film buffs, it might feel a bit weird being excited about cheering for a 4:3 aspect ratio after spending the ’90s and ’00s harping at people to stop buying pan-and-scan VHS versions of movies, but this is definitely a good thing. Shows should be presented in their original format the way the creators made them. Why The Simpsons on Disney+ wasn’t in the first place is still a mystery.