Earlier this month, comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres broke the news that her eponymous show is no longer challenging her creativity sufficiently, which has led her to the decision to call it quits.

The upcoming 19th season will therefore be the final for the award-winning show that in many aspects has paved the way for LGBTQIA+ visibility on daytime TV. With Australian celebrity guests such as Heath Ledger, Kylie Minogue and Nicole Kidman, The Ellen DeGeneres Show has aired nearly 3,000 episodes and brought home more than 80 Emmy awards. 

With the 63-year-old being named the most influential celebrity in terms of gay rights views, it marks the end of a queer era as the show wraps up.

“Yep, I’m Gay”

The Louisianian lesbian dropped out of college and first hit the spotlight in the 1970s as a stand-up comedian. DeGeneres quickly ascended to prominence and eventually landed her first regular TV gig in 1989 in a self-titled sitcom.

DeGeneres first made headlines by coming out on the Oprah Winfrey Show, then subsequently gracing the Time magazine cover with the title “Yep, I’m Gay”.

In paralleling her personal life, DeGeneres’ onscreen character in the Ellen sitcom made TV history by adjacently coming out as gay in The Puppy Episode. As the episode aired in 1997, it drew the attention of more than 42 million viewers, making it the most watched episode of the sitcom.

From cancelled to cynosure

Ellen DeGeners and Portia de Rossi on the cover of People magazine.

Due to plummeting ratings after her coming out story, her two CBS sitcoms, Ellen and The Ellen Show were cancelled almost synchronously in 1998 and 2002.

Two years later, NBC gave DeGeneres her own daytime talk show The Ellen DeGeneres Show that propelled her to today’s status of queer icon and household name.

In challenging the lack of representation of queer narratives on television, The Ellen DeGeneres Show has centered a lesbian right in the living room of an average of 1.7 million households per episode. As a result, through more than 1,950 hours of screen time, DeGeneres monumentally altered television’s queer visibility.

During the 18 years of hosting one of the most popular daytime talk shows in American history, DeGeneres also found love in the Horshman-born supermodel and actress Portia de Rossi, whom she married in 2008.

DeGeneres’ retirement from her daytime series comes amid accusations of unkind and inconsiderate behavior toward staff and guests. While addressing the matter during her 2020 season premiere, DeGeneres insisted that she is ending the show for creative reasons only.


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