Ellen DeGeneres has announced that her long-running daytime talk show The Ellen DeGeneres Show will officially end next year following one final season — its 19th on the air.
DeGeneres nearly pulled the plug on the show back in 2019 before re-upping for three more years. In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, DeGeneres said she always intended for that to be her final contract. The host explained that she’s simply ready for a “new challenge,” and the timing seems to be fortuitous, as the show’s ratings have suffered since a BuzzFeed exposé revealed a toxic workplace behind the scenes — one that stood in stark contrast to Ellen‘s entire brand identity of “be kind.”
There were also allegations of racism and intimidation, and the pandemic didn’t help matters, as a non-union tech company was hired to tape the show remotely from DeGeneres’ California home, leaving the show’s regular crew grappling with pay reductions and an overall lack of communication.
As a result of Buzzfeed‘s July 2020 exposé, DeGeneres fired three of the show’s top producers — executive producers Ed Glavin and Kevin Leman, and co-executive producer Jonathan Norman — and addressed the allegations on the air. The Buzzfeed piece isn’t solely responsible for DeGeneres‘ decision to end the show, but considering the emotional toll the expose took on her, it surely played a part.
DeGeneres launched her daytime talk show several years after coming out as a lesbian on the cover of Time magazine. She became the queen of daytime TV a decade ago after Oprah Winfrey ended her 25-year run in syndication, and the success of The Ellen DeGeneres Show led to several spinoffs, including Ellen’s Game of Games, The Masked Dancer, Family Game Fight and Ellen’s Greatest Night of Giveaways.
Variety reports that Warner Bros. was courting Jennifer Aniston as a possible replacement given her well-received appearances on Ellen‘s show, but Aniston is unlikely to take her career in that direction. Meanwhile, The Kelly Clarkson Show stands to benefit from Ellen‘s exit, as her show began making ratings gains once the bloom was off DeGeneres‘ rose.
Ellen is a fabulously talented comedian and I suspect she’ll be flooded with offers, particularly from streamers eager to fill their development pipelines. Personally, I’d love to see her tackle a Louie-type series that reconciles her joyous TV persona with the depression and anxiety she says she struggles with in real life. I just hope The Ellen DeGeneres show is remembered for the many smiles it brought to millions of viewers, rather than the toxicity that plagued the show off-camera. That controversy certainly shouldn’t be ignored, but it shouldn’t define Ellen either.