As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to tighten its grasp on the world and its various industries, the world of Hollywood has reacted seemingly by deciding to be ever-more weirder than one thought was ever possible. If you’re not organizing mass sing-alongs of John Lennon songs, you’re probably taking up Tik-Tok for the first time or screaming about the agony of having to spend time with your own family. Oh, the pain.
Still, for many corners of the entertainment biz, the show must go on. Late-night talk show hosts are recording episodes from home and finding new ways to engage with guests and their audiences. We all need a distraction right now so why not rely on our old favorites like Kimmel, Meyers, and Colbert?
And then there’s Ellen DeGeneres.
Even if you dislike Ellen — and believe us, you are certainly not in the minority there — you can at least understand her appeal with her target demographic. Her show is designed to feel like a party for the audience, albeit one that the host checked out of years ago and can now seemingly barely hide her disdain for the entire process. So, what happens when you take away the music, the adoring fans, the celebrity guests, and the terrifying torture games of doom? Well, you get a semi-Brechtian nightmare that seems stuck in-between Parasite and a Tim and Eric special.
Ellen is now recording her show from home, where she admits her only audience is her wife Portia, and hoo boy, it is a cringe-inducing experience.
The thing about writing for a talk show, or indeed any live event, is that you need to leave room for audience laughter, and when nobody laughs, it really shows. The experience is also a whole lot less cozy and relatable when it’s recorded from an obviously lavish home. Some jokes don’t land with any background, but it’s especially tough to pull off jokes about how your lockdown life is like a prison when it looks like that (and also you still have your voting rights and aren’t being forced to work for little to no money and you aren’t at further risk of the coronavirus due to over-crowding and the long-term impact of America’s poisonous fetish for mass incarceration for profit.)
Twitter, of course, responded accordingly.
Nobody:— Abolish ICE (@MarxistTwink) April 7, 2020
Ellen Degeneres: https://t.co/T8ozBNcRlO
When the revolution hits and I have to eat Ellen Degeneres pic.twitter.com/qsxlCCCXfg— maria (@gariamray) April 7, 2020
ellen degeneres in her mansion talking about quarantine is like jail pic.twitter.com/XpM3gEgjOO— Saint Alexander (@ralphalexandr) April 7, 2020
.@TheEllenShow people who have incarcerated loved ones are scared for their health and for their lives. Your “joke” about quarantine is not only unfunny it is insensitive. Please consider that as you compare incarceration to living in your mansion.— blackness everdeen 🐺 (@traceyecorder) April 7, 2020
(By the way, the guy in the background is Andy, who works for her, not some random stalker who looks like he’s peeing in the bushes, although he very well may also be doing that.)
Honestly, Ellen seems way happier doing her show when she doesn’t have to mingle with the commoners or be around her own employees who she (allegedly) treats terribly. That doesn’t mean it looks like she wants to keep doing this, obviously. The experience is still tough to watch and no fun at all. At least this stops her from doing that super terrifying game show where she just tortures guests like a Medieval monarch who’s rounded up the poor for their own amusement. Seriously, have you ever watched that show? It’s life-ruining.
Header Image Source: YouTube // Ellen