‘Seinfeld’ hits Netflix, but some jokes have been cropped out of view







Classic ’90s sitcom Seinfeld just landed on Netflix after a six-year run on Hulu. Given that the show was filmed years before HD was a thing, it was originally displayed in a 4:3 aspect ratio on TV (and the DVD sets that came years later). But on Netflix, the show has been cropped into a 16:9 widescreen format to fit on modern TVs. As noted by Rolling Stone, that means some visual gags have literally been erased. 

Twitter users @boriskarkov and @Thatoneguy64 succinctly pointed out the problem with a specific episode called “The Pothole.” In the episode, George Costanza and Jerry Seinfeld are trying to find George’s lost keys, which were dropped in a pothole that was then paved over. In a crop where George wildly yells at the pothole, the Netflix crop removes the pothole entirely. The 16:9 aspect ratio probably also cuts out some other gags in the series — or at the very least, it might be a jarring experience for people used to how the show originally looked.

Of course, this isn’t a new problem. Crops of Seinfeld have been on cable TV for years, and Hulu also showed the series in 16:9, as well. Given Netflix’s popularity, Seinfeld is getting lots of extra attention right now, and thus a bunch of new viewers are probably checking it out who might not have seen it on Hulu. A similar controversy happened in late 2019 when the entire run of The Simpsons hit Disney+. After plenty of complaints about missed visual gags, Disney eventually released the seasons that aired in 4:3 in their original aspect ratio. Hopefully Netflix will do the same thing with Seinfeld — but in the meantime, as with many classic shows, the most authentic way to watch them is probably on DVD. 

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

<