Seinfeld fans to Netflix: What’s the deal with these aspect ratios? – The A.V. Club

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Jerry Seinfeld and Jason Alexander

Jerry Seinfeld and Jason Alexander
Screenshot: Netflix

Seinfeld has gone the way of Sneed’s Feed and Seed (formerly Chuck’s).

Much like how FX and Disney botched their respective Simpsons streaming launches in 2014 and 2019, Netflix altered Seinfeld’s aspect ratio from 4:3 to a stretched 16:9 for their own. To non-nerds, this means that instead of the boxier look of the original broadcast version, Netflix retrofitted the show for modern, widescreen televisions. Unfortunately, however, the move cropped the show with reckless abandon, removing plot-crucial visuals in the process.

One of the most glaring omissions comes from the episode “The Pothole,” in which George’s talking Phil Rizzuto keychain gets buried in the asphalt of a newly-filled pothole. You’d never know it from watching the episode, which now features more plothole than pothole. As Twitter user @Thatoneguy64 pointed out, “the titular pothole from the season 8 episode The Pothole is cropped out on Netflix.” So it looks like this episode really was about nothing.

It would appear as though that, while the streamer was very excited to get beloved comedian in a horrific Lego costume, they were less enthused about transferring his beloved show to their platform. Instead, they were more likely concerned that some viewers would turn it off if they saw the 4:3 letterboxing.

As noted, this kind of thing happened twice with The Simpsons. First, when FX launched the “Simpsons World” section of their app, the network promised fans every episode available to stream. However, this didn’t mean every aspect of every episode, as such beloved jokes like “Sneed’s Feed and Seed” can attest. Stranger still, Disney did the same thing on Disney+ after spending billions to buy 20th Century Fox.

Eventually, both FX and Disney added a feature that allowed viewers to choose which version they preferred. There is no word as to when, if ever, Netflix will fix the issue.

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