Ellen DeGeneres’ new Netflix special has arrived and it is loaded with hilarious bits and illuminating moments. In her first comedy special in 15 years, she breaks down the beginning of her career, losing her sitcom after she came out as gay, and much, much more. Here’s all the highlights from Relatable.
Ellen’s Unique Upbringing
Early on in the special, the daytime talk show host discusses growing up in a Christian Science household, which meant that no one took medicine or sought medical treatment. Not only did it lead to a fascination with aspirin for DeGeneres, but it also led to a stark realization one day when she broke her leg. In her family “knowing the truth” meant trusting in faith instead of doctors.
“I was 10 years old, I split my knee open and the bone was exposed,” she tells the audience. “And my dad told me to ‘Know the truth.’ And I said, ‘Well, the truth is, my bone is exposing its material self to the material world. Help me.’ And then I passed out.”
Ellen’s Promise to Herself
In one of the special’s most moving moments, DeGeneres details the death of her girlfriend at age 21. This forced her to move into a flea-infested basement where she grieved the loss and attempted to make sense of the world around her. As she explains it, one night she was journaling about how she’d like to call up God and ask him the purpose of fleas and the meaning of life.
After she was done, she realized she was proud of what she’d written and swore to herself that she would someday perform this bit on Johnny Carson. Not only that, she would be the first woman ever to be invited to come and sit with the legendary talk show host.
She then plays a brief clip of her victorious on-air walk over to Carson's Tonight Show desk in 1986.
Ellen on Losing Her Sitcom After Coming Out
Although she’s discussed it before, the 60-year-old TV personality also shares her thoughts and feelings on choosing to come out as gay, ultimately costing her her sitcom.
“I lost my sitcom when I came out and it’s not like nobody warned me,” she says. “I mean, everybody warned me. My publicist, my agent, my manager. Anyone making money off of me said, ‘Don’t do it.’
“But, you know, my worst fears came true,” she adds. “And that’s the reason that people stay closeted. The same people who loved me overnight just hated me because they knew I was gay. Everything changed. And, you know, I went through a depression and people made fun of me and people were writing articles about me, dissecting the whole process and why I did that and that I shouldn’t have done it.”
She later explains that, after three years of struggling to get back on TV, she was finally given a talk show. However, she says they forced her to wear more feminine clothes early on, including necklaces, in an effort to broaden her appeal, which she now can laugh about.
“Is Ellen wearing a necklace?” she playfully mocks the supposed viewer that higher-ups were attempting to win over. “It’s very delicate. She may not be gay anymore, I don’t know."
Ellen Struggles With Dancing and Being the “Be Kind” Girl
Not only does DeGeneres say “f**k” on her special (which is jarring at first), she also explores her irritation at her happy, welcoming brand. She explains that she never intended to be that daytime host who dances, but after a few times, it was pretty much expected and now she has to live it down.
She also half-jokingly discusses regretting advocating being kind at the close of every episode of her show, namely because it makes it impossible for her to ever be unkind.
“It’s a wonderful thing but here’s the downside, I can never do anything unkind, ever,” she said. “I’m the ‘Be Kind’ girl. And I’m kind. I’m a good person. I know I am but I’m a human being and I have bad days and I’m in traffic, like you, and I drive. But I can’t do the things you do because I’m the ‘Be Kind’ girl.”
“I shouldn’t even have a horn in my car,” she adds. “There’s no reason for me to have a horn. I can’t honk ever at anyone. If I cut someone off in a dangerous way, if I honk, they’re like ‘Ellen?!’”
Ellen Realizes She Is Free
At the end of her show, DeGeneres shares a dream she had that played a pivotal role in her life and career.
“I had a dream that I was holding a baby finch,” she states. “Like a little precious bird. And it was my pet and I put it back in its cage which was this beautiful, multi-tiered, bamboo cage. And the bird became me when it went into the cage. And all of sudden it realized that it was up against a window all along and the window was open and the bars were wide enough for the bird to fly out.”
“And I looked at the bird and I said, ‘Don’t leave, you’re safe in here,’” she continues. “And the bird looked at me and said, ‘I don’t belong in here.’ And flew out. And the next morning I woke up and said, ‘I’m coming out.’”