Ellen DeGeneres Addresses “Toxic Workplace” Allegations in Season 18 Premiere

"Being known as the ’be kind’ lady is a tricky position to be in."

Ellen DeGeneres has had quite the summer, and she’s finally opening up about it.

In the opening monologue from the Season 18 premiere of The Ellen Show, the out comedian took a beat to address the now-infamous “toxic work environment” on her show’s set.

“If you’re watching this because you love me, thank you,” DeGeneres quipped to the show’s virtual audience. “If you’re watching this because you don’t love me, welcome.”

As NewNowNext reported at length this summer, a number of allegations surfaced surrounding DeGeneres and her staff’s “demeaning” treatment of their employees. The Ellen Show’s ratings dipped amid the controversies, and rumors circulated the show was going to be canceled, although her production company has repeatedly denied that. In July, WarnerMedia, the show’s parent company, launched an internal investigation into the claims. Come August, three of The Ellen Show’s top producers were ousted.

Minutes into her monologue, DeGeneres apologized and “took full responsibility” for what occurred on the set of her show.

“There were also articles in the press and on social media that said that I am not who I appear to be because I’m known as the ’be kind’ lady,” she continued. The 62-year-old comedy vet and LGBTQ television pioneer went on to explain “how that happened,” including the heartfelt origin of her closing catchphrase “be kind to one another”:

I started saying ’be kind to one another’ after a young man named Tyler Clementi took his own life for being gay. I thought the world needed more kindness, and it was a reminder that we all needed that. And I think we need it more than ever right now. Being known as the ’be kind’ lady is a tricky position to be in. So let me give you some advice: If anyone out there is thinking of changing your title, do not go with the ’be kind’ lady.

The truth is, I am that person you see on TV. I’m also a lot of other things. Sometimes I get mad, I get sad, I get frustrated. I get impatient. And I am working on all of that. I am a work-in-progress. I’m especially working on the impatience thing, and it’s not going well because it’s not happening fast enough.

Below, watch DeGeneres’ full monologue—including her spiel on the “necessary changes” she’s making behind-the-scenes of the show to ensure the happiness and pride of her 270 employees.

Brooklyn-based writer and editor. Probably drinking iced coffee or getting tattooed.