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HomeUncategorizedHow Ellen DeGeneres's Coming-out Episode Changed TV and Influenced Hollywood

How Ellen DeGeneres’s Coming-out Episode Changed TV and Influenced Hollywood

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Is Ellen DeGeneres retiring? This is the question fans have been asking after the TV host announced her departure from daytime TV. However, this is not the first time DeGeneres departed daytime, albeit for a controversial reason.

It’s been over two decades since Ellen DeGeneres opened up on her sexual orientation and blew up the world of Primetime TV. It was the first time anyone declared their sexuality on TV. 

That life-changing revelation had quite an impact on film and TV, in particular, but it is safe to say that DeGeneres took the fall for it. So here’s a look at that singular, memorable moment and the events that followed. 

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Is Ellen DeGeneres retiring?
Image: Pinterest

The Puppy Episode

It was in 1997, when Ellen Degeneres’ words, “Yep, I’m Gay,” were largely etched on the front page of Times Magazine. The much-revered TV host shared this simple fact and waited for the butterfly effect. 

Ellen’s declaration resonated in the television and film sphere, and it took a toll on her career. It all started with an episode of her now-defunct sitcom, “Ellen,” where she played the main character, Ellen Morgan.

In the two-part episode, called “The Puppy Episode,” Ellen Morgan is seen declaring her sexuality to her love interest, Susan, which also reflected her authentic sexuality. 

The effect of a character admitting to being gay on TV had the public showing mixed reactions. One faction of TV lovers felt it was a pivotal moment for the representation of the LGBTQ community, while another labeled it inappropriate.

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Many celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Billy Bob Thorton, Laura Dern, and Mellissa Etheridge all supported the TV mogul and appeared on the episode. In addition, DeGeneres received fan mail all cheering her and applauding her courage.

The episode watched by over forty million viewers was widely celebrated and won a Peabody Award. But, unfortunately, the show’s main star received hate mail, death threats, and a bomb scare on the flip side. 

Reverend Jerry Falwell, a popular televangelist, publicly condemned DeGeneres. And the Family Research Council, an organization that promotes family values, called out to companies to stop advertising when “Ellen” aired. 

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Is Ellen DeGeneres retiring?
The Puppy Episode. Image: Pinterest

The Impact Of The “Puppy Episode?

Although ABC renewed “Ellen” for its fifth season, the show was tagged with a parental advisory label. As a result, it continued to be criticized and boycotted until ABC eventually canceled it.

Nonetheless, DeGeneres’ courage’s lasting effect spawned more representation of the LGBTQ community in daytime TV. A year after The Puppy Episode, NBC launched “Will & Grace,” a daytime show that revolved around a gay guy and his female best friend.

“Queer As Folk” aired in the UK in 1999 and spawned a remake in Canada in 2000. The following years leading up to the 2010s witnessed a surge in the casting of gay characters in supporting roles and as lead characters. 

GLAAD publishes a constant report on LGBTQ inclusivity in Television, and it has been positive for over 12 years. The 2016/2017 report showed the highest rate of LGBTQ inclusion as regulars in TV shows. 

Many famous TV shows like “Pretty Little Liars,” “Game Of Thrones,” American Horror Story, and “How To Get Away With Murder,” have made sure to include queerness and same-sex romance in their plots. Showrunners toned down the parental advisory label, as many of these shows do not carry it. 

Where is Ellen Degeneres now? More than ever, the iconic comedian has proved to be the proverbial phoenix, rising from all the negativity and setbacks that plagued her career. 

Former President Barack Obama duly recognized DeGeneres in 2016 when he presented a Medal of Freedom to her. Obama praised her efforts for the puppy episode, noting how much courage it took for her to pull that feat. 

Is Ellen DeGeneres Retiring? 

Ellen DeGeneres’ come-back came in the form of her long-standing show, “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” which has now aired for 19 seasons. The comical talk show has bagged over ten Daytime Emmy Awards and over five People’s Choice Awards. 

It is safe to say that DeGeneres has arrived at the pinnacle of success. However, recent news shows that she is ready to draw the curtains on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” Back in May 2021, there were reports that the end was in view in 2022. 

DeGeneres herself addressed fans in a four-minute monologue, making it known that the 19th season was significant. She likened the number 19 to several symbolic events and what they meant to her.

The public figure, in her usual goofy tone, let fans know she felt it was time to close the chapter on the much-loved TV show. DeGeneres mentioned that she needed “to take a break from talking,” before thanking fans for the “greatest experience” of her life. 

Despite establishing that she needed to take a break from “talking,” DeGeneres might have hinted that she would move on to other things. 

The 63-year-old clearly stated that her eponymous show no longer felt like a challenge. However, this could just be the pointer that she seeks a more challenging project or career path. 

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