It has been a rough year for one of the queens of daytime talk shows, Ellen DeGeneres. What started out as a rumble that the nice persona on stage may be a front for some rotten behavior behind the scenes turned into a tidal wave of accusations from people in DeGeneres’ life that the behavior was far more sinister. Over the months, people revealed shocking encounters and patterns of behavior from the Queen of Nice which rocked the boat for her daytime show The Ellen Show. Despite the allegations and a swift backlash online, DeGeneres persevered and appeared to have survived “cancel culture.”
But just today, the actress and comedian announced that The Ellen Show will be ending. DeGeneres gives a benign reason for walking away from what appeared to be her passion, but people are wondering: did her own reputation drive her away?
Today DeGeneres announced that she would be leaving The Ellen Show after 19 years. According to reports, DeGeneres informed her staff that she would be leaving on May 11th, making the announcement public the next day.
In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, DeGeneres says the reason for her departure is utterly benign; a lack of creative challenge. Per THR, “When you’re a creative person, you constantly need to be challenged — and as great as this show is, and as fun as it is, it’s just not a challenge anymore.”
But the internet isn’t buying it. After a year of getting hammered by the internet and press for creating a toxic workplace environment and abusing her employees, the one thing DeGeneres isn’t wanting for is a challenge. Some believe that the reason DeGeneres didn’t quit during the height of the scandals was to appear unruffled by them and to avoid lending them credence. Now that the waters have somewhat calmed, DeGeneres can duck out before another scandal hits and still appear to be on top of her game.
In an interview with THR, DeGeneres explained the role of the allegations in walking away from the show, “It almost impacted the show. It was very hurtful to me. I mean, very. But if I was quitting the show because of that, I wouldn’t have come back this season. So, it’s not why I’m stopping, but it was hard because I was sitting at home, it was summer, and I see a story that people have to chew gum before they talk to me and I’m like, ‘OK, this is hilarious.’ Then I see another story of some other ridiculous thing and then it just didn’t stop. And I wasn’t working, so I had no platform, and I didn’t want to address it on [Twitter] and I thought. ‘If I just don’t address it, it’s going to go away,’ because it was all so stupid.”
Of course, it did not all go away, and it wasn’t stupid to the people DeGeneres impacted. While people threw serious claims at the talk show host, DeGeneres laments that people didn’t feel like they could come to her with concerns. There was seemingly a disconnect between her righteous indignation and the harm people were describing.
But those impacted by DeGeneres’ actions don’t have the luxury of righteous indignation. Last summer, allegations broke that DeGeneres was creating a toxic workplace environment. But that’s not where it began. CELEB recounted where it all began; “To review, DeGeneres’s behavior- which fans always thought was likely to be as kind as she preaches her ‘be kind’ mantra to be- started to be questioned when Nikkie de Jager, who is a beauty vlogger known as NikkieTutorials, spoke out about not feeling the kindness from DeGeneres. Then, in March, a tweet from Kevin T. Porter blew up. The tweet said ‘Right now we all need a little kindness. You know, like Ellen DeGeneres always talks about! She’s also notoriously one of the meanest people alive. Respond to this with the most insane stories you’ve heard about Ellen being mean & I’ll match every one w/ $2 to @LAFoodBank.’ The tweet garnered a ton of attention and got many coming forward with stories about DeGeneres.”
After that, a story broke that two The Ellen Show producers were involved in sexual harassment of employees or guests over the years. Executive producer Ed Glavin was accused of touching women inappropriately, and using fear and intimidation to keep employees in line. Around the same time, co-executive producer Jonathan Norman was accused of grooming an employee over a number of years and using his position of power to put the employee in a position to sexually assault him.
But DeGeneres wasn’t spared in this round of allegations; according to disgruntled staffers, she was cold and distant and clearly aware of her producers’ abusive behavior. The network launched an internal investigation and DeGeneres did apologize for not paying enough attention to the goings-on behind the scenes of the show.
Details began trickling in that shed light on what many called a, “toxic workplace environment.” CELEB discovered, “In response to the tweet, some guests say that they were not treated kindly, and a few claim that DeGeneres herself was cold and rude behind the scenes. The talk show host issued an apology, in a letter to her employees, which reads very much as though she was unaware of what was going on right under her nose among her employees.”
From Bad to Worse
But DeGeneres’ rough year didn’t stop there. Shortly on the heels of the Twitter thread, an accusation emerged from one Ben Gravolet. Gravolet claims to be the son of someone who DeGeneres worked for in the 70s, and described being relentlessly bullied by the much younger up-and-coming star.
If only that had been the end of the comedian’s list of bad behaviors, but it just kept coming. In August, a video resurfaced of DeGeneres appearing to playfully mock employees on her show. Without context, it seems like a light-hearted display of a joking employer/employee dynamic. Given the context of DeGeneres’ behavior, however, it’s alarming.
DeGeneres didn’t just mock employees at work. According to an anonymous source, at home DeGeneres would mistreat her home staff, setting traps to catch them and delighting in firing them.
The DailyMail shared, “‘My belief is that someone’s real personality comes out at home,’ the former employee told DailyMail.com.
‘So after everything that has been said about her at work, you can imagine how terrible Ellen is going to be at home when her guard is down. Sometimes she would yell at us but it was more about the incredibly condescending tone she would use. She treated you like you were nothing.
‘She was going to torture you and you were just going to sit there and listen to it because you were being paid. Ellen was the worst person that I’ve ever met in my life. She takes pleasure in firing people.’”
The source who spoke with DailyMail added, “”‘She had multiple dogs and cats and she didn’t like the way they would walk through and not close them quickly enough. The dogs loved Portia and would jump up when she came home. The animals would barely get up when Ellen walked in.
‘I have a friend who was on The Ellen DeGeneres show one day who told me a story about how Ellen pointed out a production assistant and said ‘get rid of her, I don’t like the way she looks at me”. I heard that story from two separate sources. It didn’t surprise me in the slightest.’ The former employee was fired after a couple of months but was, by then, one of the longer serving staffers.
‘There were numerous people that she fired, rehired, then fired a second time. I heard about a manager who started on a particularly bad day and was fired in the first two hours,’ the source told DailyMail.com. ‘I would never cry in front of them but I was always stressed out and on the verge of tears. I remember going home sometimes thinking I just hated my life.’”
The Void The Ellen Show Will Leave
If DeGeneres had faced just one of the above accusations, or even two or three, it probably not would have been the nail in her show’s coffin. The popular host was one of the first big Hollywood stars to come out openly as gay in the 90’s, and getting the show to launch was a mammoth challenge in the atmosphere of the time. But it was undeniably a rousing success: people loved Ellen, and they loved her show.
But the collection of accusations from so many sources who have nothing to gain certainly casts a sinister light on all the joking exchanges between DeGeneres and her staff, and brings into question her “be kind” persona. In the wake of the scandal, ratings plummeted and it seems that despite apologies and attempts to reform the atmosphere backstage of the show, her reputation remains tarnished.
So once the 19th season wraps and DeGeneres’ show is gone, what happens to daytime talk shows? MSN shares per Variety, “As for the TV landscape without DeGeneres: In some ways, this is as big a sea change as when Winfrey left her show a decade ago. DeGeneres has been the standard-bearer of TV talk since that time. Her absence, in a literal sense, will leave a void, as aspirants like Kelly Clarkson and Drew Barrymore compete to be the next top talker. But what, specifically, is being lost isn’t clear. The bits and pieces of DeGeneres’ show — giveaways, celebrity chat, slice-of-life stories — are all available elsewhere, and are, elsewhere, shot through with sensibilities that feel a bit less put on than the DeGeneres call for kindness. Any host would be lucky to have aspects of DeGeneres’ success. But there are ways, too, in which the star who rebuilt her image on daytime talk has become constrained by it: For those looking to make a run at daytime stardom, DeGeneres’ trajectory is a cautionary tale.”
It remains to be seen who will fill DeGeneres admittedly impressive shows. But one thing is certain, whether the host is leaving because of scandals or because of a lack of creative challenge, a talk show titan’s reputation is forever changed.