Ellen Morgan, Ellen
Ellen Morgan (Ellen DeGeneres)
In 1997, American comedian Ellen DeGeneres famously came out on the cover of Time Magazine the same week as her character, Ellen Morgan, was set to come out on the popular broadcast sitcom Ellen. The series centered on Ellen’s dealing with her quirky friends, her family, and the problems of daily life. There was enormous hype around the two-part Season 4 episode titled “The Puppy Episode”, where Ellen came out to her therapist, played by Oprah Winfrey in a cameo appearance, and to her friends, and the episode was viewed by approximately 42 million people. In Season 5, Ellen’s relationship with female love interest Laurie developed throughout the season, but the show continued to lose viewers under allegations of being ‘too gay’ and was ultimately cancelled.
Though highly viewed, Ellen’s coming out episode was surrounded by controversy and ABC had to put a parental advisory warning at the beginning of each episode. “In addition to the TV-14 rating icon that flashes at the opening of the show, ABC displayed a sentence: “Due to adult content, parental discretion is advised.”
Ellen’s relationship with Laurie was also closely monitored by network executives. In the episode in which Ellen and Laurie officially became a couple, one of their lines was inexplicably changed. During a scene in a crowded, noisy bar, Ellen, frustrated that Laurie cannot hear what she’s saying, turned the situation into a joke by saying in a voice that she presumed Laurie still couldn’t hear, “I want to take you like a wild animal.” Later, they moved to a quieter area and discussed whether they were just friends or on an official date. They kissed briefly and decided to leave. In the scene as originally filmed, Ellen turned to Laurie and asked if it is an official date, to which Laurie said, “I hope so, especially since you want to take me like a wild animal.” A few days before the episode was broadcast, however, Darr was called back to the studio to change the line to “I hope so, since I’ve never dated a wild animal.”
Though Ellen has said she had difficulty finding work after the series was canceled in 1998, she has hosted her wildly successful syndicated TV talk show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, since 2003 and voices the fish Dory in the Disney-Pixar blockbuster Finding Nemo movie series. When she hosted the 86th Academy Awards in 2014, a celebrity selfie she orchestrated during the broadcast is still considered the most retweeted image ever.
In November 2016, Ellen was praised by the US president for her influence on the gay rights movement as she received the country’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. President Barack Obama said it was easy to forget the risk Ellen DeGeneres took to come out as gay in 1997 and that her bravery helped “push our country in the direction of justice…”
“It’s easy to forget now, when we’ve come so far… just how much courage was required for Ellen to come out on the most public of stages almost 20 years ago,” he said during the award ceremony at the White House. “What an incredible burden that was to bear – to risk your career like that – people don’t do that very often. And then, to have the hopes of millions on your shoulders.”
- 109 episodes.
Female love interests:
- Laurie Manning (Lisa Darr, lesbian, recurring S5, 8 episodes)
Relationship story arc with a woman: Yes
No male love interests
Relationship story arc with a man: No
Male love interest after being identified as a lesbian? No
Filter Relationship Arc:
Storyline during sweeps? No
 A relationship story arc is defined as explicit, developed on screen, and lasting more than 3 episodes. It is listed as questionable or subtext if romance is only implied, mentioned instead of shown on screen, part of a dream sequence, or otherwise not explicit for the viewer.
 Sweeps episodes air in February, May, July and November, the periods when advertising rates are set. A character is marked as "sweeps" when there is a very limited number of episodes that address their sexuality, all air during sweeps period, and the storyline is otherwise ignore/dropped.