As part of Streaming Day (ugh), Disney has announced that the original versions of The Simpsons episodes will be available next week – on May 28th, courtesy of a tweet from showrunner/executive producer Al Jean. What’s more, the Oscar-nominated Simpsons short “The Longest Daycare,” will arrive on the service the following day. Comedy geeks around the internet let out a collective, Homer Simpson-style “woo-hoo!”
If you haven’t been following Simpsons aspect ratio gate, here’s what went down: When the show debuted as part of the launch of Disney+ last November, the first nineteen seasons (from 1989 to 2009) were presented in a stretched widescreen format. Most wouldn’t think to notice and were probably just happy that the episodes were filling their screens, like most of what was on the company’s direct-to-consumer platform. But keen-eyed fans noticed that the expanded version of the episodes actually chipped away at precious visual information and a ton of sight gags that were only available in the boxier version of the show.
What was even more upsetting was that the Simpsons World portal, a part of the massive rerun deal with FXX, had no fewer than three options for how to watch the show – the original aspect ratio, the stretched widescreen version, and a version with audio commentary from the creators. And that app was free if you already had cable. With Disney+, you were paying a monthly fee and getting far fewer options.
Fan reaction was predictably loud and annoying and days after Disney+ launched, Disney was already promising that the original theatrical aspect ratios would be available on the service starting in “Early 2020.” Well, Early 2020 came and went and the world descended into chaos, but with a much greater emphasis (and larger sense of financial importance) now put on Disney+ because it is one of the few spokes in the massive Disney machine still able to generate revenue in these uncertain times (unlike theme parks, cruise ships or live sporting events), well, we’re finally getting our unaltered Simpsons episodes. (Well, mostly. That Michael Jackson episode is never coming back.) Enjoy your sight gags, everyone!