Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres might be the queen of nice, but unsettling rumors of her off-camera persona have been following her for years, including allegations that she has a secret mean side. The rumors started back in 2007 when a former writer from The Ellen Show revealed that the 59-year-old treated her writing staff like, well, “s–t.”
“We’d watch her in rehearsals, smiling and winning us over with her charm and comic timing,” the anonymous writer revealed. “Then the director would yell cut, her face would fall, and she’d level a glare at the writers. ‘Why do you keep writing these unfunny jokes?’ she’d hiss.” Fans were shocked by the allegations, but the rumors never tarnished her reputation. After all, she had a successful talk show, a regular gig hosting awards show like the Emmys, and was too funny and well-liked for fans to write her off because of one anonymous account.
But nevertheless, the stories persisted, and in 2016 the rumors went mainstream. In her book Kathy Griffin’s Celebrity Run-Ins: My A-Z Index, comedian Kathy Griffin mentioned a certain “talk show host” with “short blonde hair” who wasn’t particularly friendly behind the scenes. “I’m almost positive a certain beloved daytime talk show host once had me kicked out of a backstage dressing room at the Emmy Awards,” she wrote in the book. “I can’t prove it, but this person, who has short blonde hair, has a mean streak that all of Hollywood knows about.”
The allegation ignited a public feud between the two women, with Kathy later telling Access Hollywood that it all culminated with an awkward telephone call where Ellen was “furious” and left Kathy in tears. Ellen later defended herself in W magazine where she accused Kathy of being resentful for not getting booked on the show. She then delivered this massive smackdown: “She did a whole thing that I banned her from the show. I didn’t ban her from the show, because first you have to be on the show to be banned.” Well damn, Ellen! Is that something “nice” people say?
Later, the rumors of Ellen’s “meanness” persisted. In 2017, Corinne Olympios, of The Bachelor fame, begrudgingly admitted that her interview with the talk show host made her “uncomfortable.” “I love Ellen so much, I thought I would be like talking to Dory and I was really excited and she made me so uncomfortable, unfortunately. I kept this in for so long, but to be honest, she just made me a little uncomfortable,” she revealed. When asked to explain further, she said, “She’s very aggressive, she was very cold when I saw her before the show, which I don’t think I was supposed to, because everybody got very nervous when we bumped into each other and you could tell they were like ‘oh, s–t.'”
For me personally, I started noticing something was “off” about Ellen’s persona while watching an interview she did with Katy Perry in 2017. At the time, the reports were focused on Katy’s “odd” behavior, but for me, all I could concentrate on was Ellen’s weird aggressiveness. She seemed annoyed by the pop star, as if she was quietly seething with contempt, which is weird considering the two have known each other for years. And it’s not just me. Others on reddit have noticed it too, particularly when she interviewed the cast of Stranger Things. “Hi all I was just watching a video of the four boys playing the questionnaire game on the Ellen show and I noticed she seemed a little off and frustrated,” a commenter wrote. “A lot of people in the comments noticed it too. Some said maybe the boys were a bit too loud and rowdy, but she reacted the same, almost rude.”
But as all these little pockets of rumors added up, it all culminated into one “holy crap” moment with the premiere of Ellen’s Game of Games. In the commercial for the show, Ellen is seen laughing maniacally as she drops contestants into pits and flings them off stage. “Bye-bye,” she says in a creepy cold voice as the contestants scream. The commercial tries to make it look like it’s all fun and games, but I detected an air of sociopathic glee. I know it sounds a tad overdramatic, but judging by the previous rumors and the firsthand accounts from Kathy and Corinne, I think there might be a small grain of truth to my assumption. Although Ellen’s fans clearly don’t seem to care, you won’t be seeing me tune in to any more of her shows.