Seinfeld is now available on Netflix, but the new aspect ratio on the streaming service repeats an old Simpsons mistake made by Disney+.
Netflix’s Seinfeld release repeats a mistake Disney+ originally made with The Simpsons. Originally airing on NBC from 1989-1998, Seinfeld has endured over the past couple of decades and earned a new generation of fans thanks to syndication and streaming. This fall, Seinfeld moved to Netflix, giving the streamer a classic library title to fill the void left by the likes of The Office and Friends. Netflix generated a lot of hype for Seinfeld’s release, even jokingly pretending it was the season’s hot new show.
All nine seasons of Seinfeld are now available to stream on Netflix, giving viewers an opportunity to binge the series and relive their favorite moments. On Netflix, Seinfeld is presented in the 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio, a change from the standard 4:3 it was presented in during the show’s original run. At first glance, this may not seem like a big deal, but it actually repeats an infamous mistake of another classic TV comedy’s move to a new streaming service.
The shift to 16:9 completely alters the framing of shots, since the show was initially produced well before the widescreen era. Twitter user @Thatoneguy64 highlighted an example that stood out. The post compared the same shot from the episode “The Pothole.” In the original version, the pothole is visible onscreen as Jerry and George talk. On Netflix, the pothole is cropped out. See the post below:
This recalls the controversy that ensued when The Simpsons arrived on Disney+ in November 2019. Like Seinfeld on Netflix, The Simpsons was presented in 16:9. That was fine for the episodes that originally aired after the show’s shift to widescreen in 2009, but The Simpsons ran for several seasons in the 4:3 aspect ratio. Many viewers were upset by the change, since it impacted a number of the show’s visual gags. One of the more common examples that circulated around social media was the Duff Brewery sequence, where the 16:9 crop negatively affected how the joke played out onscreen. Many viewers complained, leading to Disney+ fixing The Simpsons aspect ratio for those older episodes.
It’s certainly possible Netflix could do the same thing with Seinfeld, especially if the 16:9 aspect ratio generates enough complaints. Still, it’s unfortunate this is even an issue to begin with, especially given what happened with The Simpsons recently. Netflix is counting on Seinfeld being a big draw for them, and it sadly didn’t take long for viewers to spot a mistake. Hopefully, this is rectified in the not-too-distant future, and there will be an option to watch Seinfeld in the traditional 4:3 ratio. In the meantime, fans can stick to the DVD releases if they choose.
Seinfeld is now streaming on Netflix.
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