2020 was a rough year for basically everyone, including Ellen Degeneres. The comedian — who is known on a first-name basis to all of America — contracted COVID-19 in December of 2020, but that was far from the only difficulty she experienced that year. Throughout 2020, Ellen was accused by former staffers of being rude, cold, and unfriendly to her employees. Several celebrities who appeared as guests on the talk show echoed these sentiments, including YouTuber NikkieTutorials and singer Calum Scott.
On July 16, 2020, BuzzFeed News published an article that included allegations from former employees about the toxic work culture on the show. Less than two weeks later, it was confirmed that Warner Media (who produces the show) was conducting an internal investigation about the claims.
Naturally, people started to wonder whether Ellen is ending her talk show in light of everything that has been happening surrounding her and the show over the past year. It wasn't until May of 2021 that the world learned the truth: The Ellen show is ending — but not right away. Here's what we know.
Is Ellen DeGeneres ending her talk show?
On May 12, 2021, The Daily Mail revealed that Ellen will be ending her show after Season 19, which is set to finish airing in 2022. The outlets reports that a source close to the host said Ellen "has had enough and told her team that she's done."
"She's promised one more season after this one and will exit at the end of the 2021/2022 season — the 19th season of the show. The ratings have tanked and have been truly appalling this year and Ellen knows her time is up."
The news doesn't come as a complete surprise — Ellen has considered ending the show before.
In 2018, Ellen revealed to The New York Times that December that she had been weighing her options when it came to her long-running show. At the time, Ellen was reportedly "considering a much bigger change, retiring from the long-running hit show that bears her name," citing her hit game show Ellen's Game of Games and Netflix special Relatable as opportunities that might make take her away from daytime TV.
But the celebrity, who featured on Forbes' "Richest Self-Made Women List" for her impressive $275 million net worth, also told supermodel Gisele Bundchen she was not ready to retire, in an episode that aired around the same time.
And it seems she was torn by the opinions of her trusted brother and her much-adored other half, Portia de Rossi. Portia told the Times that her wife is "such a brilliant actress and stand-up" that she doesn't need "this talk show for her creativity."
Meanwhile, her brother thought she owed it to America to stay on TV, at least while former President Trump was still in office, "making the case that, in the age of Trump, the country needs her positive, unifying voice on television every day."
Ellen ended up listening to her brother and extending her contract through the 2021 to 2022 season. Ellen herself called her afternoon program "escapism for what's going on, one hour of feeling good," and went on to say that "at the core, it's a comedy show. But if it's not funny, at least it feels good." But it looks as though the she will not be extending her contract again, and 2022 will be the last year we see new episodes of Ellen on TV.
Ellen's show has been at the center of some controversy for the past year.
Ellen's show mantra may be "Be kind to one another," but per several of her former employees, that wasn't the feeling shared behind the scenes.
In March of 2020, writer/comedian Kevin Porter posted a viral tweet asking people to share their experiences with Ellen being mean. The thread received thousands of comments, including many responses about Ellen's on-set behavior.
At around the same time, an interview clip of NikkieTutorials began circulating from the Dutch series De Wereld Draait Door.
In it, the makeup expert said that Ellen didn't acknowledge her until she was in front of the guests, and she "wasn't as nice" as she was expecting. Soon after, Calum Scott said that he was told not to look Ellen directly in the eye. Several months after the first frenzy regarding Ellen's off-camera persona, BuzzFeed News posted a piece that included statements from 10 former staffers on the show, and one who was still employed there.
While many said that the senior employees and executives were problematic, they acknowledged that Ellen is ultimately the one who should control the situation.
"If she wants to have her own show and have her name on the show title, she needs to be more involved to see what's going on. I think the executive producers surround her and tell her, 'Things are going great, everybody's happy,' and she just believes that, but it's her responsibility to go beyond that," one former employee stated.
The former staffers detailed their experiences with microaggressions on set, instances of overt racism, and tactics of intimidation. Afterwards, three executive producers, Andy Lassner, Ed Glavin, and Mary Connelly, issued a statement to BuzzFeed.
"We are truly heartbroken and sorry to learn that even one person in our production family has had a negative experience. It's not who we are and not who we strive to be, and not the mission Ellen has set for us," their statement began.
"For the record, the day to day responsibility of the Ellen show is completely on us. We take all of this very seriously and we realize, as many in the world are learning, that we need to do better, are committed to do better, and we will do better," it concluded.
Less than two weeks after BuzzFeed News published the article, Variety confirmed that Warner Media had sent along a memo to employees about conducting an investigation into the allegations.
When the show returned for the premiere of Season 18, Ellen began the episode with a monologue addressing the allegations against her and apologizing for some of her behavior. "As you may have heard this summer, there were allegations of a toxic work environment at our show,” she said. “And then there was an investigation. I learned that things happen here that never should have happened. 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.”
How long has Ellen had her talk show?
After 1998's culture-breaking moment that was Ellen coming out on national television, most of America was supportive of the actress' candor and bravery. But the haters, including her network ABC, which canceled Ellen soon thereafter, were definitely salty about her move.
The public opinion left her dejected, and she didn't make her comeback to TV until 2003, when she started The Ellen Show. Which means she's been doing the talk show for 16 years now, and at least two more seasons are still to come. The only person who's been on the air for longer than Ellen is Conan O'Brien.
"No other current daily host has been as successful or celebrated," writes The New York Times of her many accolades, which include 32 Emmys and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, no big deal.