Buzzfeed has a lengthy story about the toxic work environment on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. That’s one thing that we’ve really seen this year – people are really tired of Ellen’s sugary fake-wholesome act, and they’re talking about what she’s really like, and what it’s like to work on her show. To be clear, not everyone interviewed by Buzzfeed blames Ellen solely, but it is her show and this kind of toxicity does spill over from the top. You can read the full piece here. Some highlights:
“Be Kind” is BS: “That ‘be kind’ bullsh-t only happens when the cameras are on. It’s all for show,” one former employee told BuzzFeed News. “I know they give money to people and help them out, but it’s for show.”
Who spoke out: BuzzFeed News spoke to one current and 10 former employees on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, all of whom asked to remain anonymous, fearing retribution from the award-winning NBC daytime talk show and others in the entertainment industry. They said they were fired after taking medical leave or bereavement days to attend family funerals. One employee, who claims she was fed up with comments about her race, essentially walked off the job. Others said they were also instructed by their direct managers to not speak to DeGeneres if they saw her around the office.
Is Ellen to blame? Most of the former employees blamed executive producers and other senior managers for the day-to-day toxicity, but one former employee said that, ultimately, it’s Ellen’s name on the show and “she really needs to take more responsibility” for the workplace environment. “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,” one former employee said. “I think the executive producers surround her and tell her, ‘Things are going great, everybody’s happy,’ and she just believes that, but it’s her responsibility to go beyond that.”
Racism behind the scenes: A Black woman who used to work on The Ellen DeGeneres Show told BuzzFeed News she experienced racist comments, actions, and “microaggressions” during her year and a half as an employee. She said when she was hired, a senior-level producer told her and another Black employee, “Oh wow, you both have box braids; I hope we don’t get you confused.” And at a work party, she said, one of the main writers told her, “I’m sorry, I only know the names of the white people who work here,” and other coworkers “awkwardly laughed it off” instead of coming to her defense. When the former employee brought up issues of race and representation on the show and asked producers not to use offensive terms like “spirit animal” in segments, her colleagues called her “the PC police.”
One person was told to stop their GoFundMe: A third former employee said they were given a warning for creating a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for medical costs that weren’t covered by their company health insurance and then sharing it on social media. Just 24 hours after posting the GoFundMe, they said, they were called into the department head’s office and told to take it down because of concerns it might hurt DeGeneres’s image. “They discovered my fundraiser, then got mad at me. … They were more concerned about Ellen’s brand instead of helping me out,” the former employee, whose story was corroborated by four other employees, told BuzzFeed News.
There’s so much in this piece, including more instances of racism and racial microaggressions, and the massively different ways different people are treated just depending on whether they have “likeable” qualities. The producers on the show sound like absolute tyrants, and Ellen seems like she’s in a bubble (a bubble of privilege) who has no idea what’s happening in her own office. Yes, it’s a toxic work environment.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.