When Disney acquired Fox, they also acquired The Simpsons. They decided to make the whole show available on Disney+ as part of their launch line-up. In theory, this was a huge selling-point for the new service. In practice, Disney has botched the whole idea. It will be fixed in 2020, thankfully.
The crux of the issue is formatting. The first 19 seasons or so were filmed in a 4:3 aspect ratio. When viewed on a modern, widescreen television, this produces black bars on the right and left edges of the screen. But the show itself looks just like it did when it was created. In a baffling decision, Disney decided not to display The Simpsons in this format on Disney+. Instead, they have zoomed in and made the whole show widescreen. This cuts off the top and bottom of the show. In fact, this actually ruins some jokes, as demonstrated in the following tweet:
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
I was excited to watch the show. I adored The Simpsons as a teenager, but the quality of the writing fell off and I gave up watching. I was eager to re-watch the first several seasons when it was still comedy gold. But after I learned that they ruined its presentation, I decided I wouldn’t bother.
Variety reports that Disney+ is going to fix this in 2020. They will actually offer both methods of viewing the show. You’ll be able to choose to watch it in the original 4:3 ratio, or have it zoomed to fill your screen. I really like this idea. Give me the choice as the viewer. Don’t make it for me. I will definitely give the show another chance when this choice is available.