Earlier this summer, former employees of The Ellen DeGeneres Show discussed their adverse work experiences with BuzzFeed News. Although most of them mainly accused executive producers and other high-ranking managers, especially Kevin Leman for his explicit sexual misconduct, one former employee unequivocally blamed Ellen for not taking more responsibility. The former employee stated, "If she wants to have her own show and have her name on the show title, she needs to be more involved to see what's going on." A few of the recent complaints that incited the show's investigation regarded racism, sexual misconduct, harassment and a prevailing toxic workplace. However, there have been adversary rumors about Ellen's administration and general demeanor for years, as depicted in Kevin T. Porter's Twitter thread.
Upon returning to the studio, Ellen's apology monologue included her perspective on the allegations and what she intends will be a "new chapter" for the show's 18th season. She emphasized her regret over "let[ting] someone down" or "hurt[ing] their feelings." Her purpose, she stated, is "to make people laugh and feel good." After acknowledging the crises prevalent worldwide, Ellen affirmed that her show will continue to be "a place of happiness and joy... help[ing] all the people that we help every day."
Ellen, widely known as the "be kind lady," refuted the remarks that she is "not who she appears to be on TV," asserting that she is the person presented on TV. Still, she is also numerous other things: "Sometimes I get sad, I get mad, I get anxious, I get frustrated, I get impatient. And I am working on all of that. I am a work in progress." Ellen pointed toward her imperfections in an attempt to demonstrate that she hasn't been striving to mislead us; there's merely more nuance to her character than we can see on TV.
But are these just excuses? Did Ellen's apology fail to represent the weight and seriousness of the accusations? Former employees appear to think so. "Not only did Ellen turn my trauma, turn our traumas, into a joke, she somehow managed to make this about her," a former employee told BuzzFeed News. The controversy on the earnestness of Ellen's apology pertains to her sarcastic interjections and comedic relief.
One example indicated by a former employee concerns Ellen's banter regarding her summer difficulties. Ellen said on her show, "How was everybody's summer? Good, yeah? Mine was great. Super terrific." While the audience might have enjoyed a humorous intro, the employees seeking validation felt that this was simply another instance of Ellen displacing the gravity of their experiences. Additionally, Ellen elaborated on the origin of her slogan to later, as employees have interpreted, turn it into a mockery by stating, "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."
Some even claim that there's more to the "be kind" persona than just plain old sympathy and explain, "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."
It seems that the individuals her message was aimed at are not entirely satisfied. One employee notes that the apology is just a tactic to gain viewers since "she's only sharing it now because it's premiere week." Another employee shared their disappointment at Ellen's tasteless jokes, stating, "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."
Ellen's apology was saturated with jokes, but whether this speaks to her good-natured spirit or her failures as a boss is a question that will infiltrate group-chats and social media for days.