So, in case you haven’t heard, Ellen DeGeneres is back on her show. After months of controversy, she comedy talk show host has finally returned, despite severe allegations of the show having a toxic workplace. However, Ellen still came back on her show, against the will of all her critics. Moreover, she also apologized for all that happened on her set. But, is that really enough? After everything that has happened on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, should Ellen be allowed to return?
To answer that question, we’ll be looking up close at the controversies that Ellen DeGeneres has been involved in the past months. But first, we’ll have to look at her apology.
Former employees do not like the apology Ellen DeGeneres made
The first thing is we have to look at the apology and how Ellen addressed the allegations. Now, we can judge them all we want, saying that there were too many jokes or it seemed disingenuous. But, we have to value the opinions of those who were directly affected: her employees. And they were not satisfied with her apology.
On her show, Ellen DeGeneres made several jokes in her monologue, like how her summer was “terrific” and that she is welcoming her “haters”. That did not sit well with her former employees, who told Buzzfeed:
“Not only did Ellen turn my trauma, turn our traumas, into a joke, she somehow managed to make this about her”
Another former employee also added:
“When (Ellen DeGeneres) said, ‘Oh, my summer was great’ and that was supposed to be funny, I thought, ‘It’s funny that you had a rough summer because everyone was calling out all of the allegations of your toxic work environment and now you’re the one suffering?’”
They were not okay with the scattered jokes
Moreover, the various scattered jokes in the apology also offended many former employees. After all, there were serious allegations of sexual misconduct and racism leveled on her former producers. As another ex-employee told the news outlet:
“When you’re talking about people who have accused her leadership of the seriousness of sexual misconduct, I don’t think it’s appropriate to have jokes in the monologue.”
Furthermore, Ellen DeGeneres also said that people shouldn’t brand her as the “be-kind lady”. And that was not acceptable to a lot of her former employees, who felt her wrath in the backstage. They have accused her on multiple occasions of not being nice, and they had no sympathy for Ellen in her apology, as they said:
“I don’t feel sorry that she’s in a s**tload of trouble because she branded herself the ‘be kind’ person. She’s acting like it was something she said in passing that just stuck with her. It’s not something that stuck with her, it’s not an accident. She went forward with this idea and this marketing strategy that was not true behind the scenes. There’s nothing wrong with being the ‘be kind lady’ if you’re actually true to your word.”
It was still an achievement to see these issues being discussed on the show
Despite the problems, they had with Ellen’s apology monologue on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, there were some who were amazed at the fact that this was being discussed on-screen. However, they were still skeptical about whether to believe her on her word or not. As another former employee said:
“It’s kind of amazing that this is being discussed on her show. To actually go from an environment where nothing is said and everyone keeps their head down, to now when it’s the topic of her first show back is pretty amazing. Whether or not I believe in this message that she is saying is another issue.”
Allegations of a toxic workplace
Scattered jokes in an apology monologue would have been okay had it been a personal feud with someone. But, we’re talking about serious allegations of a toxic workplace environment. Many employees were fired for just taking medical leaves. Moreover, they often had to set up GoFundMe pages just to pay their medical bills which The Ellen DeGeneres show’s health insurance provider did not provide for, and then the show forced them to delete those GoFundMe pages. Even talking to Ellen when she was in the office was a no go. A former employee said:
That ‘be kind’ bullsh*t only happens when the cameras are on. It’s all for show… I know they give money to people and help them out, but it’s for show.
Moreover, many Black and minority employees also experienced “racist comments, actions, and microaggressions”. They claimed many writers and producers only knew the names of the White employees. One of the former employees remembers a racist remark by a senior producer, who said:
Oh wow, you both have box braids; I hope we don’t get you confused.
Sexual harassment and misconduct
Incidents of sexual harassment have also been reported on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. A former employee told Buzzfeed that former producer of the show Kevin Leman would often ask her, “Are you a top or a bottom?”. She further said:
“It’s masked in sarcasm, but it’s not sarcasm,” a former employee said.
Moreover, Leman always targeted lower-level and younger employees who felt they lacked any power to speak up. And all this was happening in a workplace that Ellen DeGeneres was in charge of. A former employee said:
“He’d probably do it in front of 10 people and they’d laugh because ‘it’s just Kevin being Kevin,’ but if you’re in a position of power at a company, you don’t just get to touch me like that.”
However, The Ellen DeGeneres Show was embroiled in controversies long before these brave confessions.
Older controversies about The Ellen DeGeneres Show
Sadly, The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Ellen herself have had many controversies in the past as well. For instance, her former employees Kevin T. Porter and Benjamin Siemon publically came out on Twitter and admitted that Ellen was one of the meanest people alive. Simon even said that Ellen:
has a “sensitive nose” so everyone must chew gum from a bowl outside her office before talking to her and if she thinks you smell that day you have to go home and shower.
But, that wasn’t it. There was more, as you can read from their tweets:
Right now we all need a little kindness. You know, like Ellen Degeneres always talks about! 😊❤️
She’s also notoriously one of the meanest people alive
Respond to this with the most insane stories you’ve heard about Ellen being mean & I’ll match every one w/ $2 to @LAFoodBank
— Kevin T. Porter (@KevinTPorter) March 20, 2020
A) She has a "sensitive nose" so everyone must chew gum from a bowl outside her office before talking to her and if she thinks you smell that day you have to go home and shower.
— Benjamin Siemon (@BenjaminJS) March 20, 2020
Moreover, NikkieTutorials also opened up that she did not get good vibes from The Ellen DeGeneres Show. She wasn’t even allowed to use the nearest bathroom, which they said was reserved for the Jonas Brothers. To that, she said:
Why do they [Jonas brothers] get a private toilet? I thought. But in the end, my [interview] had 8 million views afterwards and theirs 2 million, ha!
Moreover, NikkieTutorials also highlighted how she was greeted by a very mean intern on the show who was obviously overworked. And she also called out Ellen DeGeneres for her friendship with George W. Bush, which betrays her stance as an advocate for the LGBTQ community, saying:
“DeGeneres betrays her political significance as an openly gay entertainer and a prominent LGBTQ advocate through her friendship with Bush”
And then, of course, there’s her public feud with Dakota Johnson. Here’s her interview with the actress, which had a lot of awkward moments, to say the least.
Final verdict – Should she be allowed to return?
So, when you see all these controversies related to The Ellen DeGeneres Show, should she really be allowed to return? Her image on the media has always been about being the “kind lady” with a lot of empathy for everyone around her. She is famous for helping people achieve their dreams on the show by giving them loads of money. And Ellen rampantly recognizes herself as a pro-LGBTQ member, being gay herself. But, don’t all these controversies negate everything that she stands for on the show?
Sure, she did great stuff for many families on the screen, but shouldn’t she provide adequate health care to all her employees as well? Those 270 employees, as she mentioned, are her responsibility. It is important for her to ensure that they don’t have to make GoFundMe pages to pay their medical bills. Her donations to the needy don’t mean a lot when her own employees are out begging for their survival. Furthermore, they all deserved to be treated fairly, regardless of their gender, sexuality, and race. Any kind of racial discrimination and sexual harassment should be intolerable when she herself supports liberal values on the screen. She should know that better than anyone, considering that she is a part of the LGBTQ+ community.
And then, there’s her friendship with George W. Bush. As a matter of principle, she should have distanced herself from him, considering that his policies hurt the LGBTQ+ community. His policies have long-lasting effects, that can’t be shrugged off by nostalgia of the past.
Ellen DeGeneres should not be allowed to return!
Keeping all this in mind, I personally do not believe that Ellen DeGeneres should be allowed to return on her show unless she issues a proper apology at the very least. Ellen should also come out and make it abundantly clear that she is taking more care of her employees’ healthcare and ensuring a workspace free of any kind of sexual or racial harassment and abuse. An internal investigation by her own studios is simply not enough. There should be more transparency, which should ensure that her public persona and private demeanor and her office space are all in line. Otherwise, her controversies and her on-screen persona scream of hypocrisy. Let us know in the comments below if you believe the same or not.