After 19 seasons and more than 3000 episodes, comedian and TV personality Ellen DeGeneres, one of the most famous and highly-paid TV hosts, is calling it quits on her wildly popular talk show.
“It’s going to be really hard on the last day, but I also know it’s time,” said DeGeneres in an exclusive interview with Hollywood Reporter. “I’m a creative person, and when you’re a creative person you constantly need to be challenged, which is why I decided to host the Oscars or why I decided to go back to stand-up when I didn’t think I would.” And you thought it was because of the recent allegations. Ha! She continued: “I just needed something to challenge me. And as great as this show is, and as fun as it is, it’s just not a challenge anymore. I need something new to challenge me.” Mmhmm, OK, a challenge. (Just nod).
At its peak, The Ellen Show averaged 4.2 million viewers per episode, with some part of every other show going viral. Memorable moments include Barack Obama’s pre-POTUS appearance, Sophia Grace and Rosie's rendition of Nicki Minaj's 'Super Bass', and a shopping with Britney Spears in the mall. One of the most celebrated hosts and comedians of her generation (her cabinet plays host to 33 Emmys and 20 People’s Choice Awards - a record for the industry), the 63-but-looks-36-year-old, was also a trailblazer for LGBTQ rights. So huge was her commitment, that in 2016, Barack Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It followed a very public coming out, in 1997, on the cover of Time Magazine that showed the comedian crouching, beaming and brown, alongside the now-famous words “Yep, I’m Gay”. Although it would be years until the Supreme Court legalised same-sex marriage, in 2008, DeGeneres married actress girlfriend Portia De Rossi.
But then came 2020, a year in which she likened quarantine in her California mansion to “being in jail”. Soon after, Buzzfeed revealed reports of a 'toxic work environment' on her namesake show, with allegations of sexual harassment, racism and bullying. Pedalling her "be kind" mantra in public, behind the scenes it was apparently, comically performative.
Unsurprisingly, DeGeneres denied the allegations: “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.” She continued, explaining that she learned about the allegations from the press, and that she was really sad about it. “It’s a lot to live up to. I started saying “be kind to one another” because I really believe people should be kind to one another and so it was easy clickbait to say, “Oh, the be kind lady isn’t so kind.” I am kind. I’m also a woman and I’m a boss.”
According to Per Nielsen, The Ellen Show lost over 1 million viewers last season. Despite the controversy, her star pals still came out in force, with Kris Jenner, Justin Beiber, Pharrell Williams and Michelle Obama all making an appearances. As news of the show's ending broke, Ellen Dakota Johnson memes poured onto Twitter, highlighting the tremendously awkward interview in which Ellen accusatorially asked the then 30-year-old about why she wasn't invited to her bash. After responding with the now famous, “actually, no, that’s not the truth, Ellen. You were invited,” the host realised, oh... she was.
As the host tried to claw back credibility, the ending of the show was somewhat inevitable. And so the curtain closes, with next season, the 20th, being the last.