A few years before my 4-year-old self was introduced to her as the voice of Dory in Pixar’s “Finding Nemo,” in 2003, Ellen DeGeneres had already been making headlines for being the first actress to come out as a lesbian on national TV.
In the mid-90s sitcom titled after her character, Ellen Morgan, DeGeneres held the lead role for four years, before the show’s eventual cancelation in 1998. She received immense amounts of support and hate for finally confirming her sexuality, and DeGeneres essentially had to restart her entire career from the ground up. She re-established herself as a stand-up comedian, and after a failed sitcom attempt with CBS, she finally landed “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” or simply “Ellen,” which we all still know and love today.
As her daytime talk show celebrates 15 years on air, rumors have begun to float that DeGeneres will be ending her run soon as one of America’s favorite TV hosts. With the amount of laughs, support and care that DeGeneres has given to her fans through the years, it is no surprise that fans would worry about “Ellen” leaving the daily TV schedule, and while suspicions have been growing for some time, there are a handful of reasons why DeGeneres might be considering canceling her beloved show.
First of all, DeGeneres could be growing tired of putting on her act, both on-screen and in-person. After she came out, DeGeneres’ main goal in all future endeavors was to be her most authentic self, but as a result, many viewers tend to forget that DeGeneres is just another human being. When normal people happen to run into her on the street, she told The New York Times, “There’s been times someone wants a picture, and while I’m doing a selfie, they’re like: ‘You’re not dancing!’ … Of course I’m not dancing. I’m walking down the street.”
Most people don’t take this into account because they’re so used to seeing the happy-go-lucky host dancing around her stage; they just expect her to dance whenever, wherever. Clearly, this cannot be expected of someone 24/7, especially because DeGeneres still has to play the role of a talk show host, rather than just being herself.
DeGeneres has roots on the comedy stage; she began her career performing stand-up at a comedy club stages in New Orleans, which much of her early career was heavily centered on. Since starting her talk show in 2003, however, DeGeneres has departed from her performing origins. Even today, with the many games on her show where she embarrasses people from her audience, which became her game show spin-off, “Ellen’s Game of Games,” DeGeneres still has to play the role of a TV show host, rather than a comedian.
Recently, though, she decided to tap into her funny bone again to create her first-ever stand-up special, “Relatable,” on Netflix, after 15 years away from the microphone. When the special aired on the streaming service late last year, speculations about “Ellen” being canceled were flying high, but that, of course, did not discourage DeGeneres from doing the special.
In the trailer for the show, DeGeneres takes jabs at herself, cracking jokes that her wealth and fame have led many of her friends to wonder if she was still relatable, which is what the special focuses on. Now, halfway through 2019, there has been no word of DeGeneres following her passion back to her comedic roots, but the suspicions are still definitely there.
To add more fuel to the rumors, her brother and wife constantly butt heads about the topic. While her brother, Vance DeGeneres, sees nothing wrong with his younger sister keeping her show running, DeGeneres’ wife, Portia de Rossi, feels that it’s time to stop the talk show.
De Rossi has “urged her to move on” numerous times, and Vance has changed his sister’s mind each time. “‘I just think she’s such a brilliant actress and stand-up,” de Rossi said, “that it doesn’t have to be this talk show for her creativity.’” The show has purportedly been the force behind past marital problems, and there have been previous reports of DeGeneres and de Rossi arguing on-set. The pair have since been to couples’ therapy in an effort to find a healthy work/life balance.
Another reason that there have been speculations about “Ellen” ending is the sudden influx of guest hosts. In earlier seasons of the show, it was relatively rare that DeGeneres would have a guest host, but in recent seasons, that has changed. DeGeneres has had guest hosts for two primary reasons: either because she was away from the studio, doing her own philanthropic work, or she was just sick. I’m not trying to call her old, but at 61, it’s more than okay for her to take some days off if she isn’t feeling the greatest.
Amidst all the guest hosts, an imposing question arises: Who is going to take over “Ellen” when DeGeneres retires? Many have been quick to fantasize about which celebrity will either take her spot, and whether they’ll take over DeGeneres’ show entirely or start their own show to fill the “Ellen” timeslot. DeGeneres has had a plethora of celebrities host her show in the past; this year, guest hosts include people like Mila Kunis, John Cena, Melissa McCarthy and her reoccurring DJ tWitch.
Someone who seems the most eager to take over, though, is Mario Lopez; having previously hosted the show for two bonus episodes, he definitely has the experience to have his own talk show, but when DeGeneres let Kelly Clarkson host a mock “Kelly Show,” she was then predicted to be the one who would possibly take over the show’s time-slot when “Ellen” is out. Because Clarkson’s show won’t premiere until September, though, there is no telling whether any of this is true or not.
Despite all of the chatter about the lifespan of “Ellen,” DeGeneres cheerfully reassured her audience that her daytime talk show was not going anywhere. On May 21, she announced that her show has been running for 16 years, totaling a whopping 3,000 episodes, and she described the daunting process of the show’s birth; she detailed how times have changed since then, and how, since the beginning, she has considered the show to be a relationship. She admits that there have been both good and bad parts to this relationship.
DeGeneres chose her words carefully enough to scare viewers. “Sometimes in a relationship, you need to take a break,” she said. “But I don’t. You’re stuck with me, because I just signed for three more years.” This prompted immediate audience applause, and a heartwarming look from tWitch.
She went on to joke that the announcement would leak that weekend on an episode of “Game of Thrones.” Luckily, we will continue to see that traditional Ellen DeGeneres humor until 2022, at least.