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Angry subscribers are saying Netflix ruined ‘Seinfeld’

Published Oct 3rd, 2021 2:27PM EDT
Seinfeld Netflix
Image: NBC

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Friday turned out to be quite a day for new content to consume at home and in theaters. The highly anticipated Venom: Let There Be Carnage sequel is out in theaters, growing Sony’s Spider-Man Universe of stories. Then there’s Apple TV Plus, which released new episodes for Ted Lasso, The Morning Show, and Foundation. Elsewhere, you’ll find the Sopranos prequel on HBO Max and in theaters. But Netflix had the most anticipated release this weekend. That’s the entire Seinfeld series that’s available to stream immediately in 4K quality.

But if you’ve been dying to binge Seinfeld on Netflix, and if you had already seen the original years ago, then you might not necessarily appreciate what the streamer did to the TV series.

Some Seinfeld fans quickly discovered that Netflix’s 4K remaster altered the original aspect ratio of the TV show. Instead of the original 4:3 crop, you get a 16:9 ratio that’s more in line with what you’re used to in 2021. Most devices that play video content support that aspect ratio. And most TV shows and movies do come in a 16:9 ratio. That’s the new normal. Of note, Seinfeld has streamed in 16:9 elsewhere before Netflix.

But that wasn’t the way they shot movies and TV series back when they made Seinfeld. In the pre-HD era, TVs didn’t look like smaller versions of a cinema screen. The 4:3 TV aspect ratio was king, and they filmed TV shows accordingly.

Did Netflix ruin Seinfeld?

If you’ve seen Seinfeld in the original 4:3 cut on a mid-90s TV for the first time, you’re probably well aware of what the show looked like. And you’ll quickly realize that Netflix’s version of Seinfeld seems different. You get less vertical content since the 4K remaster comes in a 16:9 aspect ratio.

Then again, some Seinfeld might not even realize what’s going on for most of the show. You still get the same great episode featuring the four iconic characters you love. The jokes will land just like they did the first time, and you’ll love rewatching the entire thing again.

If you’ve never seen Seinfeld, you’ll experience it in a 16:9 aspect ratio for the first time, so you’ll never know what the 4:3 format looked like. But some of the die-hard Seinfeld fans out there will can the difference, especially when it comes to certain episodes, like the one with the pothole:

Even so, the jokes still land, as the same Twitter user explains later in the thread. You’ll see the pothole in the next shot:

It’s not a real problem


isn’t the first to have this “problem.” Disney did the same thing with The Simpsons on Disney Plus. But the streaming service lets users choose between 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratios. Netflix doesn’t do the same thing with Seinfeld, however.

Netflix Seinfeld
The differences between the original 4:3 aspect and Netflix’s 16:9 4K cut for Seinfeld. Image source: Captainjoe201/Reddit

Then there’s the Zack Snyder’s Justice League cut that streams in 4:3 on HBO Max because that’s how the director originally envisioned it. He wanted to take advantage of the vertical space to include more detail in some shots, which wouldn’t be possible on 16:9. That’s why 4:3 is a lot more important for the Synder Cut than for some Seinfeld jokes that require a visual hook.

In other words, Netflix didn’t ruin Seinfeld. It’s just a different experience with most of the same amazing content you’ll love. Think of it this way, had Seinfeld come up with this “show about nothing” idea nowadays, they’d have shot the whole thing in 16:9. Then, sometime in the future, a different format might have “ruined” the 2021 standard.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.