The Ellen Show, YouTube
Ellen DeGeneres kicked off Season 18 of her show by addressing the toxic work environment allegations that came out over the summer. However, many viewers and former staffers are saying that the talk show host's opening monologue missed the mark by lacking full accountability and inserting humor where it shouldn't have been.
The long-time talk show host started her nearly five-minute intro by telling her viewers,"If you're watching because you love me, thank you. If you're watching because you don't love me, welcome!" Then, she greeted her virtual audience members by asking how everybody's summer was and joked that hers was "great, super terrific."
A former employee of The Ellen DeGeneres Show explained to BuzzFeed News how this joke was particularly upsetting because it positioned DeGeneres as the victim. “When she said, ‘Oh my summer was great’ and that was supposed to be funny I thought, ‘It’s funny that you had a rough summer because everyone was calling out all of the allegations of your toxic work environment and now you’re the one suffering?’”
DeGeneres also joked when addressing allegations that she doesn't practice what she preaches with her "be kind" mantra, implying that it was an issue of unfortunate branding. “Let me give you some advice out there if anybody's thinking of changing their title or giving yourself a nickname, do not go with the 'be kind' lady. Don’t do it.”
This joke didn't sit well with another former employee, who said: “I don’t feel sorry that she’s in a shit load of trouble because she branded herself the ‘be kind’ person. She’s acting like it was something she said in passing that just stuck with her. It’s not something that stuck with her, it’s not an accident. She went forward with this idea and this marketing strategy that was not true behind the scenes.”
The former employee continued, “There’s nothing wrong with being the ‘be kind lady’ if you’re actually true to your word."
Various former employees shared with BuzzFeed News that the tone of DeGeneres' statements didn't match the weight of the situation.
“Not only did Ellen turn my trauma, turn our traumas, into a joke, she somehow managed to make this about her,” one former employee said.
Another former employee echoed the same sentiment, saying, “When you’re talking about people who have accused her leadership of the seriousness of sexual misconduct, I don’t think it’s appropriate to have jokes in the monologue."
The internet largely agreed that DeGeneres' monologue and on-air apology didn't cut it.
Ellen was accused of horrible workplace behavior by MANY people and decided it was cool to insert shitty jokes in her monologue— mia ♕ (@averagekpopslut) September 21, 2020
Ellen Degeneres’ monologue/apology would’ve seemed so much more sincere without the jokes and clapping in between— Nikita 🐼 (@Nikitaa_Gx) September 21, 2020
watching Ellen’s “apology” monologue like pic.twitter.com/DKuC5nKNOZ— becca ✨ (@beccalikeya) September 21, 2020
Ellen clears Ellen of all charges against Ellen. pic.twitter.com/Eduw5t2Qso— All Camelids Are Beautiful (@NomadLlama) September 22, 2020
Ellen’s statement was tone deaf.— Meredith (@losthousewife) September 21, 2020
DeGeneres also addressed the allegations and the investigation of the show more directly, saying, “I learned that things happened here that never should have happened. I take that very seriously and I want to say I am so sorry to the people who were affected,” she said. “I know that I'm in a position of privilege and power and I realized that with that comes responsibility, and I take responsibility for what happens at my show.”
However, a former employee told BuzzFeed News that they would have preferred a more personal apology from Ellen or Warner Bros. behind the scenes, but never got one.
“It was like, ‘Tell us all of the most fucked up things that happened to you for the investigation, and now that we’ve written it all down, see you later,’” they added. “It just feels like there’s no ending to this for people who came forward and said things that happened to them and reopened these wounds and rehashed these memories.”