The Ellen Degeneres Show Drama: Explained

The beloved Ellen Show is under fire; the afternoon program made its name on kindness, humor, and Ellen Degeneres being friends with nearly every celebrity we can think of. But, even the brightest stars cast shadows — and that is what happened here. Beyond the stage lights, the Ellen Show has a poor working environment. Here is all the tea, in chronological order!

The allegations began in quarantine: March 20, 2020. Kevin T. Porter, a podcast host, tweeted that Ellen is “notoriously one of the meanest people alive”. Woah, that’s a bold claim. He then encouraged Twitter users to respond to his Tweet with “the most insane stories you’ve heard about Ellen being mean”; in turn, he will match every response with $2 towards the LA Food Bank. 

In mid-April, we are starting to hear a bit more details about the “behind-the-scenes” of The Ellen Show. Variety reported that Ellen’s staff was very displeased with how they were being treated during the coronavirus pandemic. The staff claimed there had been no communication from the producers regarding working hours and pay; there were no health check-ins either.

Mid-May then rolled around, but things had not calmed down. US Weekly was told that “Ellen is at the end of her rope” and “she thought this was all just sour grapes from a few haters. But it’s not a passing thing — the hits just keep coming.” This was when Ellen started to get worried. 

Things got crazy in mid-July. BuzzFeed News published a major piece on the Ellen Show, speaking to 10 former employees and 1 current about their experience with the program. Exposed in the piece was a senior-level producer who told a former Black employee and another Black employee, “Oh, wow, you both have box braids — I hope we don’t get you confused.” The same employee also had a writer tell her, “I’m sorry, I only know the names of the white people who work here.” Yikes.

The producers responded to the report and said,

“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. 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 doing better, and we will do better.”

After this hubbub, the staffers were buzzing about the Buzzfeed story and The Ellen Degeneres Show went under internal investigation. 

Ellen closes out July with a letter to Variety:

“On day one of our show, I told everyone in our first meeting that The Ellen Degeneres Show would be a place of happiness — no one would ever raise their voice, and everyone would be treated with respect. Obviously, something changed, and I am disappointed to learn that this has not been the case. I could not have the success I’ve had without all of your contributions. My name is on the show and everything we do and I take responsibility for that. Alongside Warner Bros., we immediately began an internal investigation and we are taking steps, together, to correct the issues. As we’ve grown exponentially, I’ve not been able to stay on top of everything and relied on others to do their jobs as they knew I’d want them done. Clearly some didn’t. That will now change and I’m committed to ensuring this does not happen again.”

But later that night, Buzzfeed News drops another report! This piece outlines scary instances of alleged sexual misconduct and harassment by producers. 

Because of these crazy allegations, James Corden is rumored to be next in line for The Ellen Degeneres Show — as in, take Ellen’s place as host. Ellen apparently feels super betrayed by the people on her staff just now coming forward about their experiences and could be coming up with a plan to leave the show. 

Celebrities have been jumping in left and right to defend their friend Ellen (albeit none of them had even been a staffer in the show’s workplace environment, so this could be a moot point.) While rumors may be flying that Ellen wants “out” of her show, she is reportedly very committed to ensuring proper workplace change.