After a year of tumult caused by toxic workplace allegations and plummeting ratings, Ellen DeGeneres has decided to end her long-running daytime talk show. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the show’s upcoming 19th season will be its last.
In an exclusive interview with THR, DeGeneres said she no longer feels challenged by the show: “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.”
While DeGeneres’s wife, Portia de Rossi, had been encouraging her to quit the demanding gig since at least 2018, the past year also brought a slew of new challenges and fresh scrutiny.
In July 2020, current and former Ellen DeGeneres Show staffers came forward with a cascade of accusations about what they said it’s like behind the scenes, including a large group of employees who told Buzzfeed they were subjected to a racist environment where sexual misconduct “runs rampant.” The allegations focused on three top producers—Ed Glavin, Kevin Leman, and Jonathan Norman, all of whom left the show in August—but employees also described an overall “culture of fear.” Earlier in 2020, employees had complained about COVID-19 working conditions and a troubling lack of communication from the show’s top brass.
DeGeneres apologized to staffers in a July email and again during an August video meeting, and made the mea culpa public in September 2020 when her show returned to the airwaves for a new season. “I learned that things happened that should never have happened,” she said. “If I’ve ever let someone down, if I’ve ever hurt their feelings, I am sorry for that.” She said the show was beginning a “new chapter.”
After that much-watched apology episode, however, the show’s ratings dipped dramatically. Nielsen numbers indicated that following the scandal, viewership dropped by a million an episode season over season.
In the new interview with THR, DeGeneres says this summer’s allegations aren’t behind her decision to end the show—”…if I was quitting the show because of that, I wouldn’t have come back this season”—adding that she’s setting her sights on other facets of the industry. “A sitcom seems like a walk in the park compared to this, 180 shows a year,” she says. “I don’t know if that’s really what I want to do next, but movies for sure. If there were a great role, I’d be able to do that, which I’m not able to do now.”
DeGeneres will discuss her decision to say goodbye with talk show legend Oprah Winfrey on the May 13 episode of the program.