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Disney+ Gives In To Backlash, Will Fix Big Problem With The Simpsons

After a week's worth of head-slapping "D'ohs," fans eager to stream classic episodes of The Simpsons in their entirety on the shiny new Disney+ streaming platform have finally gotten some good news.

Disney+ has indeed heard that "D'oh" wave, and responded with news that should leave The Simpsons' rabid fanbase howling their boldest "Woohoo!" into the cosmos. According to Variety, the streamer is actually planning to correct the aspect ratio insanity that plagued an already iffy launch — though it should be noted that correcting the problem will take a little longer than one might have anticipated. 

If you'll recall, the frustrating issue which set so many fans of The Simpsons on the offensive last week was that early episodes of the series were being streamed in the fairly standard widescreen aspect ratio of 16:9. Now, for more recent episodes of the long-running series (specifically season 20 and beyond), that ratio is just fine, as The Simpsons switched to that aspect ratio beginning with its twentieth season. The problem was that the series has been on the air since before the age of widescreen televisions, with meant that the first 19 seasons were created in the previously standard aspect ratio of 4:3.  

Presenting those early episodes in the incorrect ratio was leading to some images being awkwardly stretched out on the screen — but more importantly, it was actually cutting off significant portions of the original picture. 

For many shows that aired on network television in the '80s, '90s, and early '00s, losing some of the picture would not necessarily detract from the overall viewing experience. The same cannot be said for The Simpsons, of course, as the series has long championed the concept of filling the screen with funny — which simply means that some of the show's cleverest jokes are often "hidden" in the background, or lurking in the far reaches of the frame.

With such a singular legacy, it's sort of become a badge of honor for longtime fans of The Simpsons to boast Comic Book Guy-level familiarity with those "hidden" gags and sly Easter egg-type in-jokes. Naturally, said fans were a little disappointed to find that some of their favorite of these were being cropped out of the frame. Some were even threatening to cancel their membership if Disney brass didn't take action, and well, action is coming... but unfortunately, per the official statement from Disney+, it will not be coming until sometime early next year.

"Over time, Disney+ will roll out new features and additional viewing options," the statement read. "As part of this, in early 2020, Disney+ will make the first 19 seasons (and some episodes from Season 20) of The Simpsons available in their original 4:3 aspect ratio, giving subscribers a choice of how they prefer to view the popular series."

So, there you have it, Simpsons fans — you will soon be able to view your favorite episodes of the series in all of their original glory, you'll just to have to wait a little longer to do so. Stay tuned for updates regarding the exact date those episodes will be available in the correct format. 

Classic episodes of The Simpsons you'll want to stream on Disney+

Of course, if you're anything like us, you'll be more than happy to hold off on that Simpsons binge for the sake of experiencing those O.G. episodes of the show with every single gag intact. Luckily, there's an astounding booty of content from the Star Wars, Marvel, and Pixar universes to keep us busy until Disney+ makes that aspect ratio correction official.

Once it does, though, Simpsons fans are all but certain to begin their binge with some of their favorite episodes from the series' game-changing early seasons. While we'd wholly encourage you to dive headlong into those seasons in their entirety, we understand you may want to go directly to some of the more riotously funny episodes. We're happy to point you in the direction of a couple of classics more than worthy of your Simpsons streaming short list — ones which benefit greatly from the presence of, you know, the entire picture.

"Homer's Phobia" – Season 8, Episode 15 

Originally airing in 1997, "Homer's Phobia" continued the series' long-running penchant for tackling complex societal issues in hilarious and surprisingly heartfelt fashion. The episode begins with Marge befriending a flamboyant local shop owner named John (inimitable raconteur John Waters), inviting him to the Simpson home for dinner. Initially quite friendly with the John, Homer is shocked to find out his new pal is, in fact, an openly gay man. 

What follows are the typical sort of Homer-centric shenanigans, with the simple-minded head of the Simpson household making pretty much all the wrong choices in his reaction to John's "outing." Along with those shenanigans, you'll find the same sort of wickedly incisive social commentary you'd expect from The Simpsons — the sort that cleverly manage to address a potentially touchy issue in deeply humanist fashion.

"Homer's Barbershop Quartet" – Season 5, Episode 1

If you count yourself as a true fan of The Simpsons since the early days, it's a safe bet you can probably recite the words to "Baby on Board" in their entirety. If not, you'll likely want to spend a little time with the inaugural episode of the show's fifth season, "Homer's Barbershop Quartet," to touch up. Airing in 1993, this absolute classic finds Homer, Barney, Apu, and Principal Skinner forming the unlikeliest of vocal groups: barbershop quartet the Be-Sharps.

Narrated by Homer (who's recounting the story to his family after they find a Be-Sharps LP at a swap meet), the episode details the group's Beatles-esque rise to stardom (and subsequent fall from grace) after the aforementioned ode to the "Baby on Board" car signs becomes a national hit. Winkingly self-aware, and possessed of a silly sense of wistfulness that's distinctly Simpsons, "Homer's Barbershop Quartet" finds the show in high comic gear from start to finish, and ends with a gonzo nod to The Beatles' iconic rooftop performance.

"22 Short Films About Springfield" – Season 7, Episode 21

Over its three decades on the air, The Simpsons has frequently found clever ways to work pop culture references into its narrative. That's been particularly true regarding cinema, with the show often nodding lovingly (and sometimes venomously) toward some of the greatest movies ever made. It was no surprise, then, that the series borrowed directly from the narrative set-up of a film for this classic episode. 

The movie it borrowed from, though, was a bit of a surprise, as Francois Girard's 22 Short Films About Glenn Gould was hardly part of the American Zeitgeist in 1996. Still, The Simpsons used that film's setup (which examines a couple dozen brief encounters from the famed pianist's life) as an entry point to venture into sites largely unseen in Springfield. In doing so, they put many of the series' long-time supporting players front and center, and delivered one unforgettable moment after another along the way — moments that included Apu's legendary "five minute party," Dr. Nick hilariously facing the hospital's review board, a look inside the tragically hilarious personal life of Bumblebee Man, and a running Pulp Fiction motif for the ages. 

We could keep going, of course. But if you're just looking for a good starting place for your Simpsons binge, rest assured that these episodes will get you back in the show's deviously ingenious comedic mindset in no time.