'Seinfeld' Fans Blast Netflix Over Glaring Problem

Seinfeld finally reached Netflix on Friday, and anyone hoping that one of the major issues from the show's time on Hulu would be fixed was disappointed. The beloved 1990s sitcom is only available in the widescreen, 16:9 aspect ratio, meaning the image fills the entirety of modern televisions. Of course, when Seinfeld was originally filmed, almost everyone was watching it on 4:3 square televisions. This means that while the HD versions of Seinfeld might look good, you aren't seeing the entire image and some visual jokes are completely missing.

After Seinfeld was published on Netflix, one Twitter user went viral by pointing out one of the most obvious visual gags missing because of the 16:9 cut. In the Season 8 episode "The Pothole," you actually can't see the titular pothole in one shot! This reminded many of how the 16:9 version of The Simpsons that originally appeared on Disney+ also cut out visual gags that are the hallmark of the show.

The 16:9 version of Seinfeld has existed since at least 2008, when HD scans were done for TBS' syndicated run. As you can see in this Reddit comparison here, the 16:9 version does include more information on the left and right sides of the frame, but at the expense of some information at the bottom. For Netflix, the show was upgraded again to 4K, but they only did this using the 16:9 version, as The Verge points out. At the moment, there is no HD version of the original 4:3 version. The only way we can now watch Seinfeld the way the show originally aired is by watching the standard definition DVDs. In 2016, a Seinfeld fan made an informative YouTube video about the widescreen vs. fullscreen situation, which can be seen here.

When Simpsons fans caused an uproar over the aspect ratio situation on Disney+, Disney surprisingly listened. The company later added the option to watch The Simpsons' early seasons in their original 4:3 format. Hopefully, Netflix could do the same for Seinfeld, but that seems unlikely. Hulu never did it when the show was available there. Plus, the aspect ratio issue isn't stopping people from watching Seinfeld. The show holds the number four spot on Netflix's Top TV in the U.S. chart and number seven on Netflix's overall Top U.S. chart. Getting people to boycott Seinfeld on Netflix over the aspect ratio seems as futile as Elaine trying to get people to stop ordering from the Soup Nazi.

0comments

Seinfeld originally aired on NBC from 1989 to 1998 and was created by Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David. Seinfeld starred as a fictionalized version of himself, while Jason Alexander played his best friend, George Costanza. Julia Louis-Dreyfus starred as Jerry's former girlfriend Elaine Benes and Michael Richards played his neighbor, Cosmo Kramer.