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Series: Ellen

"Susan......I'm gay."

Ellen (originally titled These Friends Of Mine) is a U.S. television sitcom that ran on the ABC network from March 29, 1994 to July 22, 1998. It starred Ellen Degeneres as the main character. Degeneres used it to "come out" publicly.


The show provides examples of:

  • Accidental Public Confession: Ellen says "I'm gay" right into the airport PA system.
  • Actor Allusion: Happened lots of times:
    • Co-star Joely Fisher's sister Carrie Fisher guests stars in "The Movie Show." And later, their father Eddie Fisher also appears in "The Parent Trap."
    • Season four is laden with allusions to Ellen Degeneres' rumored (and then confirmed) homosexuality.
      • The scene where Ellen comes out features a therapist played Oprah Winfrey, whose show Degeneres came out on.
    • In "Joe's Kept Secret" Ellen tells Florence Henderson's character that she's a "lovely lady. And one day this lady will meet a fellow. And I know this is much more than a hunch." These are paraphrases from The Brady Bunch opening song, starring Henderson as Carol Brady.
    • In "Secrets & Ellen" Paige asks Wayne Newton (playing a doctor) if anyone had ever told him he looks like... Wayne Newton.
  • The Alcoholic: Paige's mother (passed out at her wedding).
  • All Just a Dream: In "It's a Gay, Gay, Gay, Gay World!", Spence gets knocked out and dreams of what would happen if he lived in a mostly gay world. The final scene pokes fun of The Wizard of Oz when the secondary cast arrives home dreamed up as the characters from the film.
  • Analogy Backfire: In "What's Up, Ex-Doc?", Ellen attempts to explain to Spence's father that Spence no longer wants to be a doctor; using the same elaborate baking analogy that Spence had used with her about leaving out a vital ingredient and having to throw out the entire mixture. However, Spence's father, who is a baker, points out that there is a very simple fix to the situation she describes that would save the mixture.
  • And Starring: Arye Gross received the "and" credit during the first 3 seasons.
  • Ascended Extra: Audrey had a one-shot episode in the second episode of the first season, but as of mid-season two she became a series regular. Also, Peter, who appeared a few times in season two, became a recurring character as of season three.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Spence and Paige throughout season 3.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: In the first season we had Ellen (blonde), Anita (brunette) and Holly (redhead). The naturally blonde Holly Fulger said the producers insisted she dye her hair red to make this trope apply.
  • Brick Joke: Susan's joke about getting a toaster oven for "recruiting" Ellen to the gay community in "The Puppy Episode - Part 1". The final scene of part 2 parodies this by showing Melissa Etheridge presenting Susan with a toaster oven after Ellen signed her lesbian contract.
  • Camp Gay: Peter and Barrett.
  • Characterization Marches On: Audrey initially was a seemingly regular person but in season three she turns out to be a multi-million dollar heiress.
    • Ellen Morgan, arguably a huge example. When the show started she was a slightly neurotic single woman with a motormouth who essentially did the same things most single sitcom women did (hunt for men, scheme with friends, clash with her mother, etc.). By the end of the third season the character was even more motormouthed but had completely stopped dating, nor did she express any disappointment with being single. Season 4 presented a slightly deeper Ellen, going from therapist to therapist and dropping suggestive hints about conflicted feelings. By the end of the season, she'd had a personal revelation that she was gay, and began to live her life more openly than ever before. Though she remained similar in many respects for the final season, she was much more self-aware and confident and began a healthy relationship with another woman, which was still going on when the series ended. It's easily one of the best examples of a sitcom character developing over time while still remaining the same person.
  • Character Name and the Noun Phrase: "Ellen's New Friend," "Ellen's Improvement," "Ellen's Choice," "Ellen: With Child," "Ellen Unplugged," "Ellen's Deaf Comedy Jam," "Ellen in Focus," Ellen: A Hollywood Tribute"
  • Character Title: The main character is Ellen Morgan.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Anita and Holly, two of Ellen's best friends in season one, disappear into thin air as of season two, without ever being mentioned again.
    • There were very few episodes during the final season that featured the entire credited ensemble. Given the shift in direction the show had undergone this actually makes sense, as the bookstore which had linked so many of them together was no longer a part of the series; all the characters had basically gone in their own directions and, realistically, would not have spent as much time with Ellen as before.
  • Clip Show: Season four's "The Clip Show Patient". The timing of this episode was wise, as it was the last episode to air before the famous "Puppy" episode. Helped remind viewers that Ellen was still the same character she always was, just more self-aware.
  • Coming-Out Story: "The Puppy Episode", in which the character Ellen Morgan came out as a lesbian, shortly after Ellen Degeneres came out publicly.
  • Corpsing: Sometimes Ellen can't hold it in and starts laughing.
    • Ellen started laughing with Janeane Garofalo in "Two Mammograms and a Wedding";
    • In the slumber party in "Go Girlz";
    • In "When the Vow Breaks" (Part 1) when she's trying to get Paige's passed out mother on her feet.
    • In "The Parent Trap" when Ellen is doing the interpretive dance to her parents;
    • In "Secrets & Ellen", Ellen laughs twice when she dodges Joe's kiss (and then Audrey's).
  • Crossover: In 1997, ABC forced a crossover stunt on this and the other Wednesday night sitcoms - The Drew Carey Show, Coach and Grace Under Fire. Titled "Viva Las Vegas," the idea was that characters from the four shows would be in Las Vegas for different reasons and encounter each other. Only a couple characters from each series did this, however, and they amounted to cameos at best. This series' contribution was "Secrets & Ellen." Notably, Ellen herself didn't support doing this, so her character did no crossing over. Paige and Spence went to Vegas instead.
  • Crowning Moment of Awesome: YMMV, but Ellen saying "I'm Gay" into the loudspeaker at the airport. The entire season had been building up to that moment and the audience naturally went wild.
    • Even better when her date gets a toaster oven from Melissa Etheridge. (see Brick Joke above)
  • Deadpan Snarker: Most of Ellen's humor relies on her delivering a snappy, well articulated, elaborated and witty comeback for just about every remark.
  • Disguised in Drag: In "The Fix-Up," Adam enters a photography contest and wins, but it was for women only. When he can't get a woman to accept the prize, he goes to the ceremony in drag. It goes badly - with him returning home complaining about the women seeing through his disguise and calling him a pervert.
  • The Ditz: Audrey.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: When Matt tells Ellen he wants to marry Paige soon, Ellen acts as if things are moving too fast between her and him.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: Ellen's middle name is Inez.
  • Establishing Shot: Like most sitcoms of the time, every episode used them. Interestingly, when Anita was written out after the 1st season, the establishing shot of her apartment building was re-used in the 2nd season as Paige's apartment building!
  • Evil Matriarch: Paige's mother, never satisfied.
  • Flanderization: Audrey goes from a nagging neighbor to a pink-wearing ditzy drop-in with an annoying high-pitch voice.
  • The Faceless: Paige's mother, appeared in the wedding episode but passed out and only her legs were shown.
  • Fiery Redhead: Paige Clark fits very well. Holly, however, was a big exception.
  • Friend Versus Lover: Paige threw a fit when Ellen (finally!!!) got a boyfriend in the end of season two.
  • Game Show Appearance: Ellen goes on American Gladiators.
  • Hilarious Outtakes:
    • In the season two episode, "Ellen's New Friend," the closing credits show an outtake of a scene from early in the episode, where Ellen and Audrey are camping and Ellen starts cracking up.
    • In the season five episode, "Gay Yellow Pages," the closing credits show an outtake of a scene from early in the episode, between Ellen and Peter in which both start cracking up.
    • In the season five episode, "Escape from L.A.," the closing credits showed several takes of Laurie being splashed with water. Lisa Darr, who played Laurie, does not look especially happy filming this scene.
    • The DVD releases for seasons 3 and 5 both include blooper reels containing additional outtakes.
  • Invisible Celebrity Guest: John Travolta in "Horshack's Law."
  • Ironic Episode Title: "The Puppy Episode" which has nothing to do with such, but rather with Ellen coming out.
  • Irrevocable Message: In the pilot episode, Ellen leaves a message on Holly's machine, just before going to meet her, warning about the guy she was dating. When they arrive they realize he was not so bad, so Ellen tries to prevent Holly from listening to the message.
  • It's All About Me: Paige is an excellent example.
  • I Want Grandkids: Ellen's mother.
  • Jerk Witha Heartof Gold: Spence.
  • Lampshade Hanging: In "Two Mammograms and a Wedding" Ellen tells guest star Janeane Garofalo that she owns a shop that sells books and coffee. Garofalo comments that it's 'very hip, very "Friends"', to which Ellen quickly retorts "we were there first."
  • Loony Friends Improve Your Personality: Ellen was not overly fond of Audrey early on, but as the years went on she became considerably more comfortable around Audrey and accepting of her quirks.
  • Love Epiphany: Spence and Paige have one during the two part season 3 finale just minutes before Paige is to be married to Matt - however while Paige was prepared to go through with the wedding anyway Matt called it off at the altar.
  • Make-Out Kids: Spence and Paige from season 4 onwards.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Audrey to Adam in several episodes.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Jeremy Piven (Spence) showed us several times what his chest looked like before discovering waxing.
  • Not What It Looks Like:
    • In one episode of season two Ellen is trying out a pair of roller-skates. Adam comes in and she goes over to the counter to fetch a check for him. She starts slipping and Adam grabs her from behind and tries to help her back on her feet with several thrusts. Paige walks in and Ellen, now panting, thanks Adam and gives him a check.
    • In the last episode of season four, Paige wants to prove she's OK with Ellen's assumed homosexuality and to prove it starts to change clothes in front of her. Ellen struggles with her to put her shirt back on when Joe and Audrey walk in.
    • The episode "Neighbors" of season five revolves mostly around this trope.
  • Name's the Same: DeGeneres' current daytime Talk Show is also titled Ellen.
  • No Periods, Period: In "The Pregnancy Test" episode, Paige thinks she might be pregnant, so she takes a pregnancy test and Ellen and Audrey go one themselves for fun. One of the tests turns out positive but they can't figure out which. In the end everything gets resolves after Paige and Audrey get their periods.
  • One-Word Title
  • Pop Culture Pun Episode Title: Many to list: "The Hand That Robs the Cradle," "The Bridges of L.A. County," "What's Up, Ex-Doc?," "Two Mammograms and a Wedding," "Ellen Unplugged" "Like a Virgin."
  • Prison Episode: "Three Strikes" revolves around her being arrested for participating in an animal rights protest and ultimately remanded to the custody of her parents.
  • Put on a Bus: Adam left to London to pursue this photography career and is never seen or heard of again.
  • Questioning Title: "Trick or Treat - Who Cares?," "What's Up, Ex-Doc?," "Do You Fear What I Fear?"
  • "Rashomon"-Style: In "Not So Great Expectations," Ellen, Paige, Spence and Joe recount the same event from different perspectives: Ellen's mother being escorted outside by her date.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: "The Puppy Episode"
    • When Joely Fisher had to skip the bulk of a few episodes to film a Lifetime Original Movie, they explained her absence by having Paige travel up to Canada to produce a...you guessed it, Lifetime Original Movie.
  • Remember the New Guy: Spence, Ellen's cousin with whom she spent "all those summers with" even though he was never mentioned before being introduced in season three.
    • Paige Clark was introduced in the second season as having a long history with Ellen and Adam, despite her not getting as much as a mention in the first season.
  • Special Guest: Martha Stewart (pre-scandal), Carrie Fisher, Trisha Yearwood, Mary Tyler Moore, Eddie Fisher.
    • Many celebrites made cameos in "The Puppy Episode - Part 2" - k.d. Lang, Melissa Etheridge, Billy Bob Thornton, Demi Moore. And, of course, Oprah Winfrey as the therapist.
  • Sidetracked by the Analogy: In "What's Up, Ex-Doc?", after Spence breaks the news to his father that he got thrown out of the medical profession and was going to enroll in law school, Ellen attempts to quell their disagreement with a baking analogy as her uncle is a baker, however in acting as a peacemaker between the two of them she forgets parts of the analogy and worsens the situation.
  • Split-Screen Phone Call: In the second episode "The Anchor" and in season four's "Ellen's Def Comedy Jam".
  • Stock Episode Titles: "Witness"
  • Stripper/Cop Confusion: In "Go Girlz," during the slumber party, Ellen mistakes a cop for a stripper, who in turn enjoys the mix-up and plays along.
  • Suddenly Sexuality: Although Ellen's coming out had a big build-up, the character didn't truly begin to re-examine her life until the 4th season.
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave: In "The Apartment Hunt" Audrey moves in with Ellen for a while and starts driving her crazy. Ellen goes with her on an apartment hunt and tries to ditch her with the one furthest from her house.
  • Trash the Set and Rebuilt Set: Ellen's bookstore is remodeled in season three after an earthquake.
  • Tyop on the Cover: The season 2, volume 2 DVD menu refers to an episode as "Mrs. Kroger" instead of "Mrs. Koger". The packaging and disc label are correct, however.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: Contains some contemporary references, namely to Pulp Fiction, Die Hard with a Vengeance, and Batman Forever.
  • Unlucky Everydude: Adam.
  • Very Special Episode: "Two Mammograms and a Wedding"; special guest star, Janeane Garofalo.
    • Almost every episode of the final season can be viewed as this.
  • Viva Las Vegas: In "Secrets & Ellen" Paige and Spence go there to spend a romantic weekend. Wayne Newton guest stars as a doctor.
  • Wedding Day: Paige and Matt (doesn't come through).
  • We Should Get Another Tape: An episode centred around Ellen taping an episode of thirtysomething over a friend's birth video.
  • Why Waste a Wedding?: Paige, even after being walked in kissing Spence, on whom she admittedly has feeling, wants to go through with the wedding anyway.
  • The X of Y: Most episode titles of season one and two: "The Anchor," "The Class Reunion," "The Refrigerator," "The Dentist," "The Sleep Clinic"
  • You Look Familiar: Patrick Warburton played the masseur in "The Spa" and later that season played the cop dating Audrey.
    • Kathy Najimy played an old friend of Adam's in "So Funny", and returned the following season as Paige's boss in "Go Girlz". She was also visible amongst the crowd in the lesbian coffee house in "The Puppy Episode - Part 2".

Earth 2Series of the 1990sFamily Matters
Eli StoneCreator/ABCExtreme Makeover Home Edition
Eli StoneAmerican SeriesEllery Queen

alternative title(s): Ellen
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