23 Things You Didn’t Know About The "Ellen" Sitcom

Ellen Degeneres’ self-titled sitcom premiered in 1994.

1. The show was originally titled “These Friends of Mine.” After the first season, the show became Ellen, focusing more on the character of Ellen Morgan.

2. Before her self-titled series, DeGeneres played a receptionist on the Fox sitcom Open House, which only lasted one season.

3. Two episodes that aired in Season 3 – “The Tape” and “The Mugging” – were filmed at the same time as Season 1. They are included in the first box set as bonus episodes.

4. During the third and fourth seasons, each episode had a different opening – usually involving lots of singing and dancing.

5. The bloopers were fantastic.

6. DeGeneres earned four Emmy nominations and three Golden Globe nominations during the show’s five years.

7. The infamous “Puppy Episode,” in which DeGeneres came out as gay both on the show and in her real life, was titled after the network reportedly suggested the storyline of Ellen getting a new puppy.

8. Oprah Winfrey, who played Ellen’s therapist on the show, would later have the first interview with DeGeneres following the episode.

9. ABC placed “viewer discretion” warnings before each half of the two-part episode, a practice the network continued for the rest of the show’s run.

10. “The Puppy Episode” had 42 million viewers and won a Peabody Award.

11. Degeneres would later note that when she kissed a castmember jokingly in a scene, a disclaimer was needed. When another show did the exact same scene (but with all straight actors), no disclaimer was shown.

Spin City had a kiss scene featuring Michael J. Fox. “That’s a double standard to me,” DeGeneres said.

 

12. The lead-up to the big moment was filled with inside jokes among the cast and crew.

 

13. The episode poked fun at the hype surrounding the event in the episode itself.

14. During rehearsals for “The Puppy Episode,” DeGeneres couldn’t bring herself to actually say the line, “I’m gay.”

15. During the episode with Ellen’s “lesbian supermarket” dream sequence, several celebrities made cameo appearances: Demi Moore, Billy Bob Thornton, and Jenny Shimizu, to name a few.

 

16. K.D. Lang was working the express checkout line.

 

17. At the end of that episode there’s a sequence in which Susan leads Ellen over to Melissa Etheridge, who confirms that Ellen is gay and — after completing the necessary paperwork — awards Susan a toaster oven.

Long after the show ended, getting a toaster oven became a well-known joke for when someone comes out of the closet.

ABC

Jemal Countess / Getty Images

 

18. Laura Dern couldn’t find work for over a year following her role on Ellen.

“I also received extraordinary letters — some not-so-nice letters also — but some really extraordinary letters from families who felt that you had given them an extraordinary gift and I got to be part of that,” said Dern to Ellen during an appearance on The Ellen Show.

Jordan Strauss / Getty Images / Via youtube.com

19. Emma Thompson played a gay version of herself in the final season.

Ian Gavan / Getty Images

 

20. ABC canceled Ellen in 1998 after ratings declined. “I tried to incorporate educational things about what people actually go through when they’re coming out, and it wasn’t funny,” DeGeneres said. “Because it’s not funny.”

 

21. During the Ellen: Uncensored special, Diane Sawyer pointed out that of the final season’s 21 episodes, 13 were focused primarily on “gay themes.”

22. Robert Iger, ABC president at the time, claimed the show being taken off the air had nothing to do with Ellen’s personal life or sexual orientation.

 

See the full interview here.

23. DeGeneres doesn’t regret a thing.

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