Not many have made an impact on daytime TV like Ellen DeGeneres. The comedian, actor, and talk show host has entertained countless viewers with laughs and jump scares for the past 20 years. Many moments on The Ellen DeGeneres Show were hilarious, inspiring, or touching. But some were downright cringe-worthy.
‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’ aired from 2003 to 2022
Just six years after making history as the first sitcom lead to acknowledge her homosexuality openly, Ellen DeGeneres started her daytime talk show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, in 2003. In its 19 years on the air, the show won 64 Daytime Emmy Awards.
DeGeneres entered the world of daytime TV that Oprah Winfrey pioneered, according to CNN. Though the peak of daytime TV had already passed, DeGeneres still took the baton and made her mark. Her show featured celebrity interviews, plenty of dancing and laughing, and guest jump scares.
DeGeneres gathered 1.3 million viewers a day in the 2021-22 season. Such numbers were very lucrative. In recent years, the show made Warner Bros. Television $35 million annually.
Robert Thompson, a professor of television and popular culture at Syracuse University, said, “[Ellen] was one of the anchor stores in the mall of daytime television. I think in many ways, she might be sort of the last of that era.”
But after allegations of a toxic workplace environment in 2020 cost the show millions of viewers, DeGeneres announced she would depart daytime TV.
The final episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show aired on May 26, 2022.
Throughout its nearly two decades on the air, the show saw several cringe-worthy moments. Here’s a handful.
Ellen forced Mariah Carey to drink champagne to prove she wasn’t pregnant
DeGeneres made Carey visibly uncomfortable in 2008 when the talk show host offered the superstar a glass of champagne. Rumors had swirled that Carey was pregnant, but she was clearly trying to keep her personal life private. DeGeneres wanted to know so badly whether Carey was pregnant that she created a gotcha moment.
DeGeneres surmised that if Carey were pregnant, she wouldn’t drink alcohol because consuming it during pregnancy can cause congenital disabilities. During the interview, Carey became noticeably uncomfortable and said, “I can’t believe this” and “this is peer pressure.”
Whether or not she was pregnant, announcing such an event should be on one’s own terms and not forced upon someone on national television in front of a studio audience.
Ellen made fun of Sofía Vergara’s accent
Sofía Vergara was a guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2017, and the two had a good time discussing Vergara’s second wedding anniversary with actor Joe Manganiello. DeGeneres segued into talking about how she was learning one Spanish word a day and that she wanted to play a game with Vergara.
The game entailed Vergara, a nonnative English speaker, saying hard-to-pronounce English words. The Colombian-born actor repeatedly mispronounced “discombobulated.” After several attempts, Vergara said, “That is not even a word — you’re just doing it to ruin my reputation.“
Kanye West ranted for 6 minutes
A standard practice in interviews is for the interviewer and subject to go back and forth when speaking to keep the conversation flowing. Kanye West apparently didn’t get the memo when he was a guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2016.
While discussing some of West’s social media antics, the music mogul grabbed the interview and didn’t let go for six minutes. He ranted about how he could change the world for the better if he just had more resources, among other things. DeGeneres appeared uncomfortable, but she regained control of the interview eventually.
Giada De Laurentiis had an awkward cooking session
In 2017, DeGeneres had an interview with actor Nicole Kidman that segued into a lighthearted cooking segment with celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis. The moment devolved into a tense situation marked by De Laurentiis’ condescending attitude and Kidman’s eye rolls and side-eyes.
Finally, toward the end of the segment, Kidman had had enough of De Laurentiis’ attitude and threw her attitude back at the chef. All the while, DeGeneres stood awkwardly in the middle.
Jessica Simpson’s interview went off the rails
Jessica Simpson’s entire interview on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2017 was cringe-worthy. The singer was there to talk about her music and fashion line, but the segment quickly devolved into a string of sexual comments.
Simpson later admitted she was drunk during the interview due to alcohol addiction.