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The Simpsons is in the wrong aspect ratio on Disney+ and it’s cutting off jokes

Disney+ debuted Tuesday with nearly every episode of The Simpsons available to binge, but not everyone is happy with the fact that the show’s early seasons can only be streamed in widescreen.

Early episodes of  The Simpsons were made in the 4:3 format and the show didn’t switch to the now-ubiquitous 16:9 width ratio until season 20, so a majority of the 30 seasons of episodes have been cropped to stream in widescreen — cutting out some of the show’s iconic visual gags.

Twitter users were quick to point out that in season 4, episode 16 “Duffless,” the widescreen crop makes it easy to miss a key joke about Duff beer:

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.

— Tristan Cooper (@TristanACooper) November 12, 2019

It’s amazing to finally be able to legally stream #TheSimpsons in Canada on #DisneyPlus but the aspect ratio is off and many characters are cropped and visual gags are lost. Please fix this ????

— an actual kamikaze (@ethanisblank) November 12, 2019

Speaking on Digital Trends Live Tuesday, former Simpsons writer and showrunner Bill Oakley said the cropping was cutting out dozens of jokes.

“I’ve seen dozens of these online,” he said. “On ‘Who Shot Mr. Burns,’ one of the most important clues as to who shot him was completely cut off by this reformatting.”

Oakley added that the cut-off jokes were about “15 to 20% of the value of the show.”

“Hopefully that will be rectified very quickly,” he said, adding that he hopes Disney will add the ability to toggle between aspect ratios.

Even so, subscribers are pretty stoked that The Simpsons 30-year run is available to watch on Disney+. Those who grew up watching the show can relive their favorite episodes, and a new generation will now get to experience all the famous gags and references that have made up pop culture for the last three decades. 

“I think it will be the biggest shot in the arm that the show has had,” Oakley told Digital Trends, adding that while The Simpsons still performs well on broadcast television, that’s not how younger audiences watch shows anymore. “Especially for people under 20, it’s going to provide a renaissance, I hope.”

Although cropped, subscribers will get to watch some of the best classic Simpsons episodes like “Homie the Clown,” “Flaming Moe’s,” “Marge vs. the Monorail” and more. 

Aside from the crop issue with The Simpsons, the Disney+ debut has been off to a bumpy start. Subscribers reported an error message that says “unable to connect” when trying to open the service early Tuesday, just hours after the streaming service went live. Other users are unable to see the Disney+ app in Apple’s App Store.

Subscribers in Puerto Rico were also surprised to learn that despite being a U.S. territory, the country wouldn’t get Disney+ until November 19.

A Disney spokesperson told Digital Trends that they were aware of Tuesday’s issues and that they were working to resolve them quickly. 

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Allison Matyus
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Allison Matyus is a general news reporter at Digital Trends. She covers any and all tech news, including issues around social…
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