Every episode of The Simpsons is currently streaming in a 16:9 ratio, meaning it looks stretched and shots are cropped to fit a widescreen format. There isn’t an option to change the aspect ratio, either. This ultimately means there’s a plethora of gags from the first 20 Simpsons seasons that don’t land because the cropping prevents the joke from being fulfilled.
The Simpsons originally aired on Fox in 1989, and it was broadcast in a 4:3 aspect ratio. The show relies heavily on visual gags — an aspect of joke-telling that wouldn’t become an issue until near the end of 2009, about a third of the way through The Simpsons’ 20th season — when the show’s aspect ratio switched from 4:3 to 16:9. This has long been an issue that Simpsons fans have contended with, some even making memes about the situation.
Things seemed likely to improve in 2015, though, when Fox’s FXX network announced that early Simpsons episodes would be available to stream in a 4:3 ratio on the Simpsons World app.
Fans and critics hailed FXX for giving subscribers more technological freedom. Many assumed the same setup would apply to Disney+ following the company’s announcement that all 30 seasons would live exclusively on Disney’s streaming service. That’s not the case. Twitter is full of complaints about Disney not offering an option to stream the episodes in 4:3, with some calling it a step down from FXX and Simpsons World. Even Simpsons writer Bill Oakley tweeted his disappointment with the setup.
Disney hasn’t suggested via social media if changes are coming to the platform to address subscribers’ concerns. Disney declined to comment on whether or not 4:3 aspect ratio viewing will be made available at a later date.
Update (November 12th, 2:50pm ET): Updated to include Disney’s decline to comment.