UPDATE: Back in March, we went through a viral Twitter thread, in which dozens of people shared their negative experiences with Ellen DeGeneres. Some of them were funny, some of them were disturbing, but they all backed up long-simmering rumors that the Kindness Queen might not actually be all that nice. Not long after that thread, Ellen was criticized for how her staff was being treated during the pandemic, and this week, BuzzFeed News published a searing report detailing the “toxic work culture” at Ellen, with numerous current and former employees claiming they “faced racism, fear, and intimidation” during their time at the show.
One former employee, a Black woman, told BuzzFeed that she repeatedly “experienced racist comments, actions, and ‘microaggressions'” during her time at the show. Once, a “senior-level producer” told her and another Black employee with a similar hairstyle, “I hope we don’t get you confused.” At one point, she was labeled the “PC police” by the show’s writing staff for asking that they avoid using certain problematic phrases in segments. She says that she wasn’t taken seriously when she brought these and other issues to her boss, and eventually she was reprimanded for “looking resentful and angry” by raising concerns. After that day, she chose not to return to the show, and hasn’t worked in entertainment since.
Multiple employees quoted in the new report have stories about being fired after taking necessary medical leave. One employee recalled that during their time at the show, they took a month-long medical leave after a suicide attempt. Upon returning to work, they were informed their role was “being eliminated.” The employee told BuzzFeed News, “You’d think that if someone just tried to kill themselves, you don’t want to add any more stress to their lives.” Another former employee said they were fired suddenly after, in a one-year period, they needed to take a three-week medical leave after a car accident, and a few days off to attend funerals. They added that “Each request was a battle with supervisors and HR.” Both of these specific cases were corroborated by medical records and other employees.
In a statement, the show’s executive producers (Ellen not included), said “Over the course of nearly two decades, 3,000 episodes, and employing over 1,000 staff members, we have strived to create an open, safe, and inclusive work environment. We are truly heartbroken and sorry to learn that even one person in our production family has had a negative experience. It’s not who we are and not who we strive to be, and not the mission Ellen has set for us.” They said that responsibility for these things falls completely on them, and vowed to action moving forward to correct problems in the workplace.
Ellen DeGeneres is also an executive producer on her show, but she has not made any statement about the allegations in the BuzzFeed News report.
Original Article: Right now, a lot of us are spending a lot of time on Twitter, and it can be a scary place. Between people posting their nudes out of sheer boredom and threads from doctors about how we’re probably all going to die, we all need a bright spot. Thankfully, this weekend brought us a viral Twitter thread that has absolutely nothing to do with coronavirus, and everything to do with Ellen DeGeneres maybe being evil.
If that sentence was jarring for you, I’m sorry, but it’s time that you know. While Ellen’s public persona is relentlessly joyful, stories about her tyrannical behavior have been bubbling under the surface for a while. I’ve alluded to this before, but on Friday, comedian Kevin T. Porter invited people to share “the most insane stories you’ve heard about Ellen being mean” in exchange for donations to the LA Food Bank. Ooh, we love a charitable moment that also gives us good gossip. Buckle up, because illusions will be shattered.
Right now we all need a little kindness. You know, like Ellen Degeneres always talks about! 😊❤️
She’s also notoriously one of the meanest people alive
Respond to this with the most insane stories you’ve heard about Ellen being mean & I’ll match every one w/ $2 to @LAFoodBank
— Kevin T. Porter (@KevinTPorter) March 20, 2020
Kevin’s original tweet has over 1,000 responses, and while some of them are people complaining that this whole exercise is mean-spirited, many of the tweets make it seem like Ellen is the mean-spirited one here. (Also, we’re raising money for charity, so stop complaining.) Obviously, it’s difficult to know if each story is 100% true, but you know, where there’s smoke there’s fire, and this is a lot of f*cking smoke.
One of the most disturbing stories was about a woman returning from maternity leave. After working for Ellen for “over 5 years,” this woman claims she found a different job with more benefits after having her baby, but went back to Ellen after she “BEGGED” her to return. Then what happened? Ellen fired her after a week. Who knows what exactly went down here, but it definitely seems shady.
After working for Ellen for over 5 years, close friend left to have baby, & found different job on a union network show (benefits etc), Ellen BEGGED her to return then fired her after 1 week, no reason given, and friend struggled for long time w new baby and no benefits etc.
— Cassandra Tells You So (@MissAbsinthe) March 21, 2020
That’s not the only story about her allegedly screwing over a long-time employee. Someone pointed out that Karen Kilgariff, best known as the cohost of My Favorite Murder, was the head writer on Ellen’s show for years—until the historic writer’s strike of 2007. Allegedly, Ellen wanted Karen to cross the picket line and come back to work, but she refused. In response, this tweet claims that Ellen fired her, and the two have never spoken since. Ouch.
Karen Kilgariff was her head writer for 5 years until the writers' strike. When Karen wouldn't cross the picket line she was fired and Ellen never spoke to her again.
— J. Fisher (@elpez3) March 20, 2020
Another account came from someone who says she served Ellen and her wife Portia at brunch. According to the tweet, Ellen “wrote a letter to the owner & complained about [her] chipped nail polish.” She says that she almost got fired because of this, which is just insane. I’m glad she also tagged the restaurant, because if she actually almost got fired for some chipped nails, that’s not okay. Just because Ellen is (allegedly) psycho doesn’t mean we all have to just live in her fantasy world.
I worked @RealFoodDaily, served her & Porsha at brunch. She wrote a letter to the owner & complained about my chipped nail polish (not that it was on her plate but just that it was on my hand). I had worked till closing the night before & this was next morn, almost got me fired.
— Chris Farah (@ChrisLFarah) March 20, 2020
One of my personal favorite Ellen stories that came out of this, though, is about her “sensitive nose.” According to this tweet, she’s super sensitive to smell, “so everyone must chew gum from a bowl outside her office before talking to her.” Okay, what? Maybe I don’t understand the sensitive nose life, but how close is Ellen standing when she’s having conversations with these people? I’ll never turn down a free piece of gum, but this sounds like a personal problem.
A) She has a "sensitive nose" so everyone must chew gum from a bowl outside her office before talking to her and if she thinks you smell that day you have to go home and shower.
— Benjamin Siemon (@BenjaminJS) March 20, 2020
Writer and comedian Benjamin Siemon came armed with several bits of Ellen tea, also claiming that she likes to pick “someone different to really hate” every day. Reportedly, she always has a different target of choice, and then the next day she’ll move on to someone else. At the very least, this is textbook toxic boss behavior, and it’s easy to see why working for her could be a nightmare if this stuff is true.
B) A new staff member was told "every day she picks someone different to really hate. It's not your fault, just suck it up for the day and she'll be mean to someone else the next day. They didn't believe it but it ended up being entirely true.
— Benjamin Siemon (@BenjaminJS) March 20, 2020
There are many more entertaining responses, so you should check out the full thread if you have some time to kill while you’re “working from home” today. Again, they may or may not be true, but I’ve laughed a lot either way.
On Sunday, Kevin T. Porter circled back with an update. While he said it’s tough to tell exactly which stories are true, he rounded for a final donation of $600 to the LA Food Bank. Great work, Kevin, and great work to everyone who shared these stories. Call me messed up, but this is the sh*t that warms my cold, dead heart.
Well this got out of hand! It’s now hard to tell which stories are real or not, so I’ve rounded up to 300 and donated $600! pic.twitter.com/dX08ybhdos
— Kevin T. Porter (@KevinTPorter) March 22, 2020
So yeah, thinking about all the people Ellen DeGeneres may (allegedly) have yelled at is what’s getting me through this day of social distancing. If you have any personal stories about Ellen being a monster, feel free to comment or slide into my DMs, because I really need something to smile about. Until then, I’ll be watching old clips of Wendy Williams, my daytime talk show queen. Wendy is messy, but at least she owns it!
Images: David Crotty/Getty Images; kevintporter, missabsinthe, elpez3, chrislfarah, benjaminjs / Twitter