Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Boy, we hope somebody got fired for that blunder: Disney+ is cropping out Simpsons jokes

Yeah, that doesn’t look right, either: A photo from the Disney+ presentation at The Walt Disney Company’s Investor Day
Photo: Disney

(This article was originally published on 11/12/19. —Ed.)

Today’s Disney+ launch has not been without its hiccups, and there are certainly newly minted subscribers out there who feel like it has been, without a doubt, the worst streaming service debut ever. Rest assured that they were on the internet within minutes registering their disgust throughout the world.

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To which The A.V. Club humbly submits: “We know it isn’t great, but what right do you have to complain?”

The internet, responds in kind: “As a loyal subscriber for 12 hours, we feel Disney owes us.”

And we could continue this whole paraphrased pantomime, referencing thousands of hours of entertainment with an encore of the whole “worst. Streaming Service. Launch. Ever” thing, but we can all see where this is going, even if one character in the scene has been cropped off at the shoulders: Another new home for The Simpsons, the same old remastering of the show’s earliest and best seasons that’s formatted to fit modern TV screens—at the expense of the shot compositions of those seasons, and, occasionally, the jokes told within those compositions.

To wit, from a Twitter user who is not a crackpot:

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How can Lou even tell if Banner has barely touched his banana kaboom when it looks like that?

Or what about this egregious affront to the art of visual humor?

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As noted above, this is nothing new. When reruns of The Simpsons first came to FXX in 2014, the same sight-gag obscuring, face-stretching widescreen aspect ratio was applied; when the cable channel introduced the online Simpsons World platform, subscribers were given the option to watch the likes of “Marge Vs. The Monorail” and “Mr. Plow” in 16:9 (ooh, that’s bad) or 4:3 (that’s good!). The Mickey Mouse Club, Boy Meets World, and other pre-HD TV offerings on Disney+ are presented in their original aspect ratios, so it’s not like the service is totally averse to moving images flanked by black bars. Perhaps that Simpsons World toggle will be added somewhere down the line; The A.V. Club has reached out to Disney about this possibility, and we’ll update this post if they respond.

UPDATE, 11/15/19: Per a Disney+ spokesperson, the show’s original aspect ratio will eventually be back, in streaming form:

We presented The Simpsons in 16:9 aspect ratio at launch in order to guarantee visual quality and consistency across all 30 seasons. 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.

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About the author

Erik Adams

Managing editor, The A.V. Club