‘I was not allowed to say gay’: After 19 Years The Ellen DeGeneres Show Comes To A Close

‘I was not allowed to say gay’: After 19 Years The Ellen DeGeneres Show Comes To A Close
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After a historic run of 19 years and 3,280 episodes, Ellen DeGeneres brought down the curtain on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, with the final episode airing May 27.

A visibly emotional DeGeneres, 64, told the audience at the top of the show, which was taped April 28, “It’s more of a little break,” said DeGeneres.“You can see other talk shows now, and I may see another audience every once in a while.”

“When We Started the Show I Couldn’t Say ‘Gay’ On the Show”

“Twenty years ago when we were trying to sell the show, no one thought that this would work. Not because it was a different kind of show, but because I was different.”

“Very few stations wanted to buy the show and here we are 20 years later celebrating this amazing journey together,” said DeGeneres.

“When we started the show I couldn’t say ‘gay’ on the show.  I was not allowed to say gay. I said it at home a lot. ‘What are we having for gay breakfast?’ Or ‘pass the gay salt.’ ‘Has anyone seen the gay remote?’ — things like that.”

“We couldn’t say ‘gay.’ I couldn’t say ‘we,’ because that implied that I was with someone.”

“I sure couldn’t say ‘wife,’ and that’s because it wasn’t legal for gay people to get married, and now I say ‘wife’ all the time,” said DeGeneres to Portia DeRossi, whom she wed in 2008, and who was sitting in the front row.

“Twenty-five years ago, they cancelled my sitcom because they didn’t want a lesbian to be in prime time once a week. So I said, ‘OK, I’ll be in daytime every day, how about that?’”

‘What a Beautiful, Beautiful Journey That We Have Been on Together’

“What a beautiful, beautiful journey that we have been on together and if this show has made you smile, if it has lifted you up when you’re in a period of some type of pain, some type of sadness, anything that you are going through, then I have done my job.”

“Because of this platform we have been able to change people’s lives and this show has forever changed my life. It is the greatest experience I’ve ever had; beyond my wildest imagination,” DeGeneres said through tears.

During its long run, The Ellen DeGeneres Show became the darling of critics and audiences alike, and nabbed a staggering 64 Daytime Emmy Awards, with 20 of those being won during the first five seasons. 

The show ultimately won the Emmy for Best Entertainment Talk Show 12 times, more than any other talk show in Daytime Emmy history, and was nominated every year in that category from 2008-2021.

The show however failed to grab a nomination in that category when the 2022 nominations were announced May 5.

DeGeneres became known for her kindness to her guests and audiences as well as her generosity. DeGeneres would regularly close out her show by asking viewers to “Be kind to one another,” and over the course of the show’s history DeGeneres gave away a staggering $500 million to people in need. 

Final Guests Were Jennifer Aniston, Billie Eilish, and Pink 

Bringing the show to a full-circle closure; DeGeneres invited close friend Jennifer Aniston as a guest. Aniston was the first guest to appear on the show, back in 2003. Billie Eilish (whose first TV appearance was on ellen in 2018),  and Pink rounded out the guestlist for the show’s finale. 

Frequent guest Oprah Winfrey, who appeared during the final week of episodes, told DeGeneres, “Well, I guess I’m tearing up because seeing your staff actually triggered me for what it feels like when you have all of these people who have become your family. This has been your home.”

“I was talking to Ron, the audio guy who mic-ed me today who’s been with you for 19 years. And Ron said he was talking to his wife last night and saying, ‘You know, I just wanted the kids to finish high school.’ And now, his kids are finishing college.”

“That’s what happens with a show like this where families come together and relationships are built. It becomes home for, you know, hundreds of people who are all supporting you and helping you be as great as you are,” said Oprah.

“If I’ve done anything in the past 19 years, I hope I’ve inspired you to be yourself. Your true, authentic self,” DeGeneres said at the end of the show.

“And if someone is brave enough to tell you who they are, be brave enough to support them, even if you don’t understand. They’re showing you who they are, and that is the biggest gift anybody can ever give you. And by opening your heart and your mind you’re going to be that much more compassionate and compassion is what makes the world a better place,”

Ellen’s final message to her audience was simple but heartfelt. “Thank you so much for being on this journey with me. I feel the love and I send it back to you. Bye.” 

DeGeneres Announced the End of the Show Last May

DeGeneres announced the end of the show last May, and told The Hollywood Reporter, “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.”

The show was plagued by well-publicised behind-the-scenes tensions and accusations of a toxic workplace, and The New York Times reported in 2021 that the show lost over a million viewers after the allegations became public news.

DeGeneres announced the show’s end to her audience at the top of the final season, telling the audience, “You may wonder why I’ve decided to end after 19 seasons. The truth is, I always trust my instincts,” she says in the video above. “My instinct told me it’s time. As a comedian, I have always understood the importance of… timing. And in all seriousness, I truly have felt like next season was the right time to end this amazing chapter.”

DeGeneres took to Twitter on April 29 after filming the final episode, saying, “When we started this show in 2003, the iPhone didn’t exist. Social Media didn’t exist. Gay marriage wasn’t legal.”

“We watched the world change, sometimes for the better, sometimes not. But whatever was happening, my goal was always for the show to be a place where we could all come together and laugh for an hour.”

“Being invited into your lives has been the greatest privilege of my life and has brought me incredible joy.” 

“Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”

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