Here’s a bit of prominent Simpsons information you may have missed: The legendary comedy’s aspect ratio, which has been screwed up on Disney+ ever since the service launched, may finally be fixed by the end of May. That news comes right from Disney itself, which confirmed via Twitter earlier this month that it was indeed still working on the fix, and hoped to finish it in May.
The trouble comes as a result of the fact that all episodes of The Simpsons are shown on Disney+ in the show’s current, standardized 16:9 aspect ratio. The problem is that the first 19 seasons of the series (which contains the entire “golden era” of the show and then some) didn’t originally air in 16:9—they were in 4:3. That means all the episodes that were originally 4:3 are now cropped in a distractingly tight manner.
Granted, there are times when an audience watching the show wouldn’t notice the difference, but the cropping also legitimately ruins many of the show’s sight-based visual gags. The Simpsons at its peak was an incredibly dense show in terms of the volume of jokes, and many of those jokes were purely visual in nature. And on Disney+, the tightly cropped episodes are now editing out some of those jokes entirely, as clearly illustrated by the following Twitter user.
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
It’s really not clear why it’s taken so long to make the fix, considering that the 4:3 versions of the episodes have existed all along, but Disney+ presumably wants to clean them up to modern high-def standards. One has to wonder how the pandemic workload and inevitable furloughs will affect this timetable as well, but if there’s one thing we can say for sure, it’s this: We could really use some unfettered Simpsons access right now. Let’s hope the fix actually gets made in May.