After months of speculation, Ellen DeGeneres confirmed that the upcoming season of The Ellen DeGeneres Show will be the last
Last year was no doubt a rocky one for Ellen DeGeneres, after the COVID-19 pandemic caused her show to halt production, resuming filming for its eighteenth season in September. Shortly after production shut down, the host and execs at The Ellen DeGeneres Show were lobbed with dozens of complaints from former staff and crew members who alleged behind-the-scenes instances of racism, sexism, fear, intimidation, and sexual harassment — which seemed to foster an environment that undoubtedly runs counter to DeGeneres’ famous “Be Kind” mantra.
Upon returning to the airwaves, DeGeneres herself addressed the allegations in the season opener monologue, claiming to be unaware of the toxic environment and noting that her team had “made the necessary changes” to start a new chapter.
Still, the hit to DeGeneres’ reputation seemed palpable, with the show losing over a million viewers between September and March. Rumors began to speculate that DeGeneres might step away from the eponymous series after its upcoming nineteenth season — with DeGeneres herself confirming the news to The Hollywood Reporter today.
"People always say you have to have thick skin to be in this business and I’ve never gotten that. I have very thin skin and things affect me, and I’m proud of that," she says. "I love that I’m emotional and I still care what people think and say about me" https://t.co/sXBW4lPIDS
— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) May 12, 2021
In her first public statement, DeGeneres shared that she notified her staff on May 11, and will discuss the news with fellow talk show titan Oprah Winfrey on the May 13 episode of Ellen. She told THR, “When you’re a creative person, you constantly need to be challenged – and as great as this show is, and as fun as it is, it’s just not a challenge anymore.”
Warner Bros.’ Unscripted TV President Mike Darnell shared that he tried to get DeGeneres to reconsider the move as recently as last month, adding, “Although all good things must come to an end, you still have hope that truly great things never will.”
DeGeneres will have hosted more than 3,000 episodes and more than 2,400 celebrity interviews over the course of 19 years, telling THR she has been planning to move on since season 16. She doesn’t know what her future plans will entail, but in recent years, she’s remained a media mainstay outside her afternoon talk show, thanks to her hosting and appearance gigs on unscripted shows including Fox’s The Masked Dancer, NBC’s Ellen’s Game of Games, and HBO Max’s Ellen’s Next Great Designer, as well as a 2018 Netflix stand-up comedy special and production work for Discovery.
She claims the allegations waged against her and higher-ups at her show had no impact on her decision to step down. Of the negative media attention, she said, “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.”
Noting that the claims against her were at first “hilarious” and “ridiculous,” she said, “I wasn’t working, so I had no platform, and I didn’t want to address it on [Twitter] and I thought if I just don’t address it, it’s going to go away because it was all so stupid.”
Then, when the allegations turned to the workplace, DeGeneres said, “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. So, there was an internal investigation, obviously, and we learned some things but this culture we’re living is [is one where] no one can make mistakes.”
Now, DeGeneres says she makes a point to check in with staffers over Zoom in the hopes they can come to her with questions or concerns, adding, “I’m not a scary person. I’m really easy to talk to. So, we’ve all learned from things that we didn’t realize — or I didn’t realize — were happening. I just want people to trust and know that I am who I appear to be.”
DeGeneres says she’s learned that “every single encounter means something,” which has reportedly made her rethink how she interacts with people. “And if, for whatever reason, one day I wasn’t dancing when I’m in the dry cleaners or I didn’t smile at somebody, it’s like, ‘Oh, did that affect somebody? Was that what they meant?'” she said. “And I don’t know but I know that I’m just a person with a lot of different emotions and I struggle with depression and with anxiety. So, every day I’m not super smiley, but my intention is never to hurt anyone. And I’ve also looked at it, going, ‘Okay, can I be more present because this one-minute encounter is going to impact somebody in a certain way.'”
At this time, it’s unclear if someone else will take on the same format as DeGeneres’ show after her departure or if NBC will go in a different direction entirely, so stay tuned for more info.