Los Angeles (AFP) – For nearly two decades, “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and its well-known hostess have delighted America’s audiences and combated stereotypes with a dose of humor and celebrity.
But after more than 3,000 shows, the talk show that rivaled Oprah Winfrey’s comes to an end Thursday, overshadowed by accusations of harboring toxic workplace behavior and contradicting her “be nice” mantra.
“When we started this show in 2003, there were no iPhones and no social media. Same-sex marriage was not legal,” DeGeneres said after taping the show’s final episode last month.
“We saw the world change, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.”
There’s no question how the cultural scene has changed since the comedienne came out as a lesbian in a 1997 interview with Time magazine, and at the same time as her character on the television series “Ellen.”
DeGeneres was revered as an icon of the LGBT+ movement, but her series was canceled a year later amid attacks. Five years later she reinvented herself as a talk show host.
“It was a sensation, a milestone,” says Mary Murphy, an associate professor of journalism at the University of Southern California.
“She led the way. She was probably, and maybe still is, the most famous LGBT+ person in the United States.”
DeGeneres’ guest list that included A-list celebrities was key to the show’s success, especially in more conservative regions of the United States.
For 19 seasons, stars from Hollywood and the pop scene have vied for places on DeGeneres’s couch, where they are invited to promote their projects and to be the subject, at times, of light jokes.
Some have participated more than twelve times. Jennifer Aniston, the show’s first guest, returns this Thursday for the final episode.
“She’s friends with the celebrities. They know it, and she makes it all jovial,” says Murphy.
“Maybe it was because having been so burned, she didn’t want to eat other people. There was no ‘I got you’ thing.”
Audience members and YouTube viral video stars were frequently invited to the show to enjoy their 15 minutes of fame in human or gaming segments.
“Ellen is this funny, goofy, quirky character who didn’t take herself very seriously,” said Jeetendr Sehdev, author of “The Kim Kardashian Principle.”
“We hardly had a talk show with a host who looked like her and looked like her. She would come out with her hair cut very short, wearing a suit and a tie, while everyone else was getting their hair done,” he said.
“full of contradictions”
But rumors of a less jovial behind-the-scenes scene began to gain ground with a 2020 Buzzfeed post claiming the show had a “toxic work culture,” including sexual harassment, bullying and racism.
Three producers were fired, and DeGeneres was accused of not being as nice to employees in private as she was in public.
In May, the comedian announced the end of the program but denied that it was due to the accusations.
“I need a new challenge,” he told The Hollywood Reporter.
But DeGeneres has been the subject of more controversy, such as when she defended comedian Kevin Hart after he dropped out of hosting the 2018 Oscars over a series of homophobic tweets.
“All of a sudden, he fell from grace,” Murphy said.
“She seemed to be connected with the celebrities and the audience, but not with the people who worked for her.”
According to Sehdev, Ellen has always been “full of contradictions”.
“That has also been part of the reason why she attracts the audience, she is able to generate that attraction,” he said.
“And at the same time it has been the reason why his integrity, his credibility and his authenticity have been called into question.”
© 2022 AFP