When The Simpsons first launched on Disney Plus, there was outrage. One of the best TV shows of all time was finally available to stream online, but the aspect ratio was all wrong, cropping out entire jokes. Now, that same fate has befallen Seinfeld.
The classic comedy series – which, like The Simpsons, ranks among the greatest comedies ever created – has been made available on Netflix for the first time. However, controversy has struck as the aspect ratio has been changed from 4:3 (that more boxy look that most pre-00s TV shows have) to 16:9 (the wider, more cinematic look that Netflix shows predominantly stream in).
This has led to various problems, one of which has been highlighted on Twitter: during the season 8 episode “The Pothole”, George points at a pothole, but, due to the aspect ratio, we cannot see what he’s pointing at. Studio laughter echos out, but we don’t know why until a few seconds later when the scene cuts to the covered pothole very briefly. We still get the joke, eventually, but the original intention and flow of the scene is broken.
to emphasize, the titular pothole from the season 8 episode The Pothole is cropped out on Netflix https://t.co/gH4l5V8HfS pic.twitter.com/6G35eZQymWOctober 1, 2021
Unfortunately, the 16:9 aspect ratio has plagued Seinfeld fans for many years. As The Verge (opens in new tab) points out, an HD version of the show was made for TBS HD’s syndicated reruns – these were newly made scans from the original film. A 4:3 version of the scans does potentially exist, somewhere, but has never been released as TBS broadcast the 16:9 version in order to fit modern televisions.
Netflix, however, doesn’t use the TBS scan. In fact, the streamer uses an all-new 4K scan. Before its release on Netflix, fans hoped that the new scan would be made available in the original 4:3 aspect ratio, but that has not happened. Instead, we’re left with the 16:9 version that cuts out a few gags.
Back to The Simpsons: after fans complained (and complained and complained) on social media about the cropping of early episodes, Disney finally made the show in its original aspect ratio, restoring visual jokes that had been cut. Could Netflix potentially do the same and restore Seinfeld to its former glory? We can only hope.
If you’ve already devoured Seinfeld on Netflix, then be sure to watch the other best Netflix shows available right now.