On Wednesday, it was announced that The Ellen DeGeneres Show’s next season will be its last. It’s been a long time coming, after BuzzFeed News published an exposé in 2020 where employees detailed how much of a toxic workplace it was behind-the-scenes. The piece detailed instances of racism, workers being fired after taking medical leave or a day to attend family funerals, and gender wage gaps. The next morning, after announcing the show’s last season, DeGeneres appeared on Today to discuss why she decided to end Ellen, denying that it had anything to do with the allegations.
“If it was why I was quitting, I would’ve not come back this year. Because everything happened—what you’re talking about was last summer. And honestly, I really did think about not coming back because it was devastating,” she said. She noted that the main reason why she considered stopping the show after the exposé was because she felt that her fans would start believing the (very credible) allegations were real: “I just kept saying to Portia [de Rossi], ‘If I was a fan of somebody and even though I loved them but I kept seeing something going on this long, I would think there must be some truth to it because it’s not stopping.’ That made me think someone’s trying to really hurt me.”
She also claims she had no idea the show was a toxic work environment. “I never saw anything that would point to that. There was an investigation that happened and I found out there were some things that happened that were not okay and we took care of that. But it was horrible timing, because it was me, then the show, and it was a thing that felt like ‘Why do I want to go back?’ It felt really personal and it felt like somebody really didn’t want the show to come back. And I thought, ‘Well, if I don’t come back, they win. And I’m not going to let them win.’”
She also hints at being framed for the allegations the terrible treatment of employees and for multiple rumors of her being rude to people, saying “I thought something was going on because it was too orchestrated, it was too coordinated. People get picked on but for four months straight for me, and for me to read in the press about a toxic work environment when all I’ve ever heard from every guest that comes on the show is what a happy atmosphere this is and what a happy place this is.”
But in the words of Dakota Johnson, that’s not the truth, Ellen! Months before the BuzzFeed News piece that delved into the show’s fraught environment, famed YouTuber Nikkie De Jager told Dutch magazine &C that she didn’t enjoy her experience on the show, saying, “Call me naive, but I kind of expected to be welcomed with confetti cannons: ‘Welcome to The Ellen DeGeneres Show!’ But instead I was greeted by an angry intern who was a bit overworked.” She also shared that DeGeneres didn’t greet her personally at any moment pre-interview. And let’s not forget that legendarily awkward interview with Dakota Johnson, where Johnson point blank told her she didn’t know if the talk show host liked her. Now that Ellen is over, we’ll have to see if other celebrities finally feel comfortable detailing what it was really like to be on the show.