No, not that Ellen show, this super-90s-aesthetic-Janice-from-Friends-is-in-this Ellen show.
Ellen DeGeneres starred in the self-titled sitcom that ran from 1994-1998 and centered around main character Ellen Morgan, a neurotic bookstore owner in her thirties.
Hulu retweeted several news outlets yesterday announcing all five seasons of Ellen will now stream on the site, in honor of National Coming Out Day.
Ellen wasn’t openly gay before she started the sitcom. She’d been in the public eye from years of stand up comedy, but she hadn’t discussed her sexuality.
And then in a two-part episode titled ‘The Puppy Episode’ towards the end of Ellen‘s fourth season, her character came out to her therapist, played by Oprah Winfrey. Ellen herself came out officially in the public eye on an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show.
A ‘viewer discretion advised’ was placed before ‘The Puppy Episode’ and each episode after that.
Advertisers like JCPenney and Chrysler pulled their ads from ABC immediately, and others followed suit. A full-page ad was run in Variety claiming that ABC was promoting sexuality. Countless media voices and outlets condemned the episode and Ellen, igniting a nickname ‘Ellen DeGenerate.’
Ellen continued for one more season and then ABC canceled it. Ellen herself found out via her assistant, who read it in a magazine.
In an interview with Diane Sawyer, then-ABC President Robert Iger spoke about his decision to end the show, saying,
“Ellen became a program about a lead character who was gay every single week, and I just think that was too much for people.”
So, she’s just gay on bank holidays and weekends.
This was all a mess, clearly. And to make things even more twisted, Ellen was left broke and out of work. She’s spoken several times about this period post-show, saying that no one would hire her after her coming out.
But flash forward to 2017 where things are still pretty backwards and not great, but serious strides have been made in the LGBTQ movement, and Ellen is streaming on a hugely popular and successful service, announced on a day that literally celebrates the thing that brought the show down in the first place.
Ah, so much satisfaction.
Robert Iger, now chief executive officer of Disney, probably realizes what an asshole he was, and what a stupid decision he made, as Ellen DeGeneres is so huge now that even your grandmother probably would recognize her.
She’s also one of the most charitable celebrities of all time (like, surely of all time, right?) and has helped so many people. Imagine if the advertisers and news conglomerates who perpetuated the silencing of Ellen DeGeneres kept her down for good.
But they didn’t, and she’s everywhere doing great things for LGBTQ people and literally just people in general.
So to celebrate, head on over to Hulu and watch ‘The Puppy Episode’ over and over and over and over again.
Anne Catherine Demere is an intern with Femestella. She is almost too passionate about pop culture and the entertainment industry and she loves to write about it. One of her favorite things is when feminism and pop culture overlap. She’s either starting a new TV show or in class, there’s no in between. And those two rarely coincide.