Ellen DeGeneres Says This Is The Real Reason She's Ending Her Show
The embattled talk show host just announced that she's calling it quits next year.
On Wednesday morning, speaking exclusively to The Hollywood Reporter, Ellen DeGeneres announced that her talk show would be ending in 2022, once her current contract is completed. At that point, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, which premiered in 2003, will have aired 19 seasons on daytime. And while accusations of a toxic work environment have plagued the show for the past couple of years, the host claims that they aren't the reason that she's decided to move on. To find out the real reason Degeneres is stepping away from her talk show and to hear what she thinks about those accusations now, read on.
Accusations dinged the reputation of DeGeneres and the show.
There had been rumors of employees being unhappy at The Ellen DeGeneres Show and of DeGeneres being a difficult person prior to Buzzfeed News publishing a comprehensive report of the claims in July 2020. Among them are accusations of racism, retaliation, and favoritism perpetrated by the show's producers. Employees also claimed that the pandemic exacerbated communication issues as they were left in the dark regarding what plans were for continuing amid COVID and whether their jobs and salaries were secure. While DeGeneres herself wasn't directly implicated in these "toxic" conversations and situations, many employees blamed her for looking the other way and allowing the culture to worsen. One even said that Ellen's "Be Kind" motto is "all for show."
DeGeneres began a September 2020 episode of her show with an on-air apology.
"I learned that things happened here that never should have happened," she said. "I take that very seriously and I want to say I am so sorry to the people who were affected. I know that I'm in a position of privilege and power and I realized that with that comes responsibility, and I take responsibility for what happens at my show."
However, that didn't stop the fallout. The New York Times reported in March 2021 that the show's ratings continued to plummet.
DeGeneres deflected some of those claims in her announcement.
Speaking to THR, DeGeneres looked back on the firestorm around the show and defended herself by claiming good intentions.
"My whole being is about making people happy. And with the talk show, all I cared about was spreading kindness and compassion and everything I stand for was being attacked," she said. "So, it destroyed me, honestly. I'd be lying if I said it didn't."
She seemed to partially blame social media for how big the story became and again asserted that she was completely unaware of how unhappy some of her employees were until it broke.
"And it makes me really sad that there's so much joy out there from negativity," DeGeneres continued. "It's a culture now where there are just mean people, and it's so foreign to me that people get joy out of that. Then, on the heels of it, there are allegations of a toxic workplace and, unfortunately, I learned that through the press. And at first I didn't believe it because I know how happy everybody is here and how every guest talks about, 'Man, you have a great place here. Of all the talk shows I've done, everyone here is so happy.' That's all I've ever heard."
She went on to say that while producers "learned things" through the internal investigation that was launched after the Buzzfeed article, she felt the pressure of a culture in which "no one can make mistakes" and was hurt by the perception that she "[didn't] care about what people went through." DeGeneres also said that she became more involved in day-to-day operations and made herself more available to employees at lower levels. Claims that people were told not to make eye contact with her or that they had to chew gum before they approached her were "stupid," however.
"I'm not a scary person," she said. "I'm really easy to talk to."
She's ending the show for a different reason.
But though DeGeneres admitted that the toxic workplace allegations were "very hurtful," they aren't the reason that she's chosen to bring the show to an end.
"…If I was quitting the show because of that, I wouldn't have come back this season," she said in the same article.
As for the real reason, DeGeneres told THR that she had actually been planning to make Season 16 the show's last. After some negotiating, she signed a contract for three more years, which will be up in 2022. By then, she'll be really ready to go, she said.
"Look, it's going to be really hard on the last day, but I also know it's time," the host explained. "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. 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."
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She's keeping the future open.
DeGeneres isn't exactly sure what comes next for her.
"I've been trying to think about that," she said to THR. "I have some ideas but my agent is just like, 'Why don't you just sit still for a minute. You probably don't even know how exhausted you are and what it's going to be like to sit still.' And I don't know how long I'll be able to do that because I'm like a Ferrari in neutral. I'm constantly needing to go."
Asked whether movies or another TV series are in the cards, DeGeneres said "movies for sure" but was more wary about returning to the same medium as Ellen, the half-hour comedy that made her famous.
"A sitcom seems like a walk in the park compared to this, 180 shows a year," she said. "I don't know if that's really what I want to do next…"
Aside from continuing to perform and entertain, the host said that philanthropy and activism are still big priorities for her.