Entertainment

Ellen DeGeneres Departs Daytime TV: “When We Started This Show, I Couldn’t Say ‘Gay’”


After 19 years worth of giveaways, games, and yes, grooving, Ellen DeGeneres ended her long-running talk show on Thursday. She began her final installment by ensuring viewers that their relationship wouldn’t be over indefinitely. “It’s more of a little break,” DeGeneres said. “You can see other talk shows now, and I may see another audience once in a while.”

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DeGeneres devoted her final monologue to talking about the societal progress we’ve seen since Ellen launched in September 2003. “Twenty years ago when we were trying to sell the show, no one thought that this would work. Not because it was a different kind of show, but because I was different,” DeGeneres said. “When we started the show, I couldn’t say ‘gay.’ I was not allowed to say ‘gay.’ I say it at home a lot—you know, ‘What are we having for our gay breakfast?’ or ‘Pass the gay salt,’ ‘Has anyone seen the gay remote?’—but we couldn’t say ‘gay.’ I couldn’t say ‘we,’ because that would imply that I was with someone. Sure couldn’t say ‘wife,’ and that’s because it wasn’t legal for gay people to get married.” 

“Now I say ‘wife’ all the time,” she continued, as the camera showed her spouse of nearly 15 years, Portia de Rossi.

“Twenty five years ago they canceled my sitcom because they didn’t want a lesbian to be in prime time once a week,” DeGeneres recalled. “So I said ‘Okay, I’ll be in daytime every day. How ’bout that?’” She then joined her longtime DJ, tWitch, a.k.a. Stephen Boss, for one last dance to “Best of My Love.”

A trio of performers joined DeGeneres for her final episode, which was filmed in late April. Jennifer Aniston, the first-ever Ellen guest, dropped by to give DeGeneres advice about concluding an iconic series. “I got a divorce and went into therapy,” Aniston said of ending Friends after 10 seasons. “I did a movie called The Break-Up. I just kind of leaned into the end.” Billie Eilish acknowledged the show was a regular presence in her household. “You started this show the year after I was born,” she said. “This was in my house constantly. Every day. I would walk into the kitchen, and my mom would be watching you.” Then Pink, who wrote Ellen’s theme song, performed her 2017 hit “What About Us” after chatting with the host. 

The end of Ellen was first announced last year, about 10 months after a BuzzFeed News piece in which former show employees accused the show of allegedly having a “toxic work culture.” DeGeneres acknowledged the allegations as “devastating,” but said she felt the timing was “orchestrated” and “did feel very misogynistic.” Following the publication of the article, DeGeneres announced the departure of three of the show’s producers, though an attorney for one of them called the BuzzFeed article “deeply flawed” and asserted that his client was “being scapegoated.”

At the end of her final hour on daytime TV, DeGeneres reflected on her show’s outward philosophy of kindness. “If I’ve done anything in the past 19 years, I hope I’ve inspired you to be yourself—your true authentic self,” she said. “And if someone is brave enough to tell you who they are, be brave enough to support them, even if you don’t understand. They’re showing you who they are, and that’s the biggest gift anybody can ever give you. By opening your heart and your mind, you’re going to be that much more compassionate, and compassion is what makes the world a better place. Thank you so much for being on this journey with me. I feel the love, and I send it back to you.”





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