The "Ellen" Clues List

The History of the "Ellen" Clues List

For over a year and a half, it has been pretty much impossible to miss all the talk about Ellen. According to a story first printed in TV Guide in September 1996, the show's lead character, Ellen Morgan, might come out as a lesbian in the 1996-97 season, with the first nine episodes containing hints to this end. Not having any complete listing of the clues out there, I decided to compile one.

Since the story was originally leaked, the buzz about the possible plot line was continuous, to the point where the media frenzy itself became more the story than the story itself. This same media then complained about the media frenzy and how tired the story had become. Ellen DeGeneres made numerous appearances on various talk shows, where what was not said was more relevant than what was said. Specifically, she joked about the character coming out as Lebanese, or the addition of a new character named "Les Bian." During this time however, negotiations were underway with Disney and ABC to get the go ahead for the coming out plot, which did eventually happen.

While the off-show machinations raised the ire of some, and the indifference of others, the coming out theme was handled fairly well on the show itself. While some of the "clues" have been of the "Lebanese" nature, the character has been developed in such a manner as to have the coming out episode be a natural outcome for Ellen Morgan. We have seen the character, who stopped dating men last season, struggling to find her place in life, uncomfortably avoiding even discussing romantic relationships, and fighting to be honest with herself and those around her. In short, we have seen a character going through the very sort of long, drawn-out coming out process that numerous gays and lesbians everywhere go through (as much as a sitcom character can.) The off-show publicity may have drawn out, particularly in a world where things are supposed to happen immediately. But when it comes to coming out, long and drawn out is probably the more realistic situation. And so while recent news stories have indicated that DeGeneres and the creative forces behind the show wanted the character to come out within the first few episodes, only to have ABC delay it until May sweeps, the extended wait served to help the story in many ways. (Although the final few episodes before "The Puppy Episode" were admittedly disjointed and without focus, seemingly little more than bad filler matierial.)

The Post-"Puppy" List

With the airing of the ground-breaking coming out episode, the original variety of hints and clues were obviously no longer relevant. However, the series incorporated a new sort of "clues," in terms of using many gay "in-jokes," as well as an endless stream of meta-jokes, in-jokes, and network bashing. Even in its worst episodes, there always seemed to be something beyond the surface in each Ellen episode. The list will attempt to document some of these moments, starting with an analysis of "The Puppy Episode."

The List

Some of the following clues are things I caught, others I gleaned from various sources on the Internet. I'm listing everything, though some seem to be pretty far-fetched (like the tuna and stubby fingers ones). Many play on stereotypes of lesbians; some may even be considered vulgar. Some people have found some of them to be offensive. That's their perogative. Some are probably not intentionally planted "clues." However, most serve to further the idea of Ellen Morgan as a lesbian. This list is for entertainment purposes only. So enjoy, but don't worry too much about it.

"Give Me Equity, Or Give Me Death" - 9/18/96, 12/11/96
  1. Ellen, just out of bed, steps up to the mirror is the bathroom and starts singing. Before she finishes, she discovers the water isn't running.
    Ellen: "I feel pretty, oh so pretty, I feel pretty and witty and - Hey!"

  2. Paige is looking for quarters and pulls a pair of boxers out of the couch.
    Paige: "Boxers. Yours?"
    Ellen: "Paige, why would you just naturally assume they are mine? I mean, could they possibly be Spence's? ... Okay, they're mine."

  3. Ellen is in the laundry room, fighting to get detergent out of the dispenser. She's talking to Spence about her relationship with Paige; he doesn't want to talk about it. (This is about Spence, but Ellen's also "keeping things inside.")
    Ellen: "Alright, fine, but keep those feelings bottled up one day you're just going to explode and Hard Copy's going to come to me and ask what happened and I'm going to say he had his chance to open up in the laundry room..." (Ellen starts beating on the dispenser with a stick.) "... but he wouldn't do it."

  4. M-A-R-G-A-R-E-T and Peter have shown up at Ellen's apartment, where Margaret is showing Ellen slides of houses up for sale.
    Margaret: "Just think Ellen, this could be you, walking up to your new home." Margaret sticks a little female doll to the screen.
    Peter: "Oh, I love this part. It's like a puppet show of your life!"
    Margaret: "And here's your husband coming home from work."
    She sticks a little male doll to the screen.
    Ellen: "Oh, I think that puppet's in the wrong show."

  5. The gang is at the bookstore, peering at the slide of Ellen's dream house. Ellen comments that she could never afford the house.
    Paige: "Okay Ellen, here's what you do. Liquidate. Sell your jewelry. All of it."
    Ellen looks at Paige incredulously.
    Ellen: "Paige, have you ever looked at me?"
    She then shines the flashlight she's holding over her body, highlighting all the jewelry she's not wearing.

  6. Ellen is distributing lunch to Tom, Larry, Smitty and tribe.
    Ellen: "Who gets the tuna on rye with mustard?"
    Smitty: "That'd be me."
    Ellen: "See, we're talking. Okay Smitty, good choice. I like tuna myself. I don't usually like the mustard, but that's a good choice."
"A Deer Head For Joe" - 9/25/96, 12/25/96
  1. Ellen is describing their new boss, Ed, to Audrey and Joe.
    Ellen: "He's just like us. He's successful, he's attractive, he's married."
    As soon as she says "married", she stops and thinks about it.
    Ellen: "Well, he's nothing like us."

  2. Ellen is in the office, trying to defend her post-it payroll system to Ed.
    Ellen: "... You can just stick little reminders up. See - adopt a kid. I haven't gotten around to that one yet."

  3. When Ellen has her dream, we see her bedroom. Directly over the bed are two large photos, one of which is the Herb Ritts Vanity Fair photo of k.d. lang touching her tongue to a mirror.

  4. At the beginning of the show, Ellen is trying to arrange some flowers in a vase, but is only able to crush them all. Audrey steps in.
    Audrey: "Ellen, let me do that. This is no job for stubby fingers."
"Splitsville, Man" - 10/2/96, 1/1/97
  1. Margaret is in Ellen's future home, looking for Ellen, who pops out of the front closet.
    Margaret: "Ellen, Ellen, where are you?"
    Ellen: "I was in the closet."
    Margaret: "It's big, isn't it?"
    Ellen: "It's huge. I mean, I wouldn't want to spend a lot of time in there, you know, entertaining or anything..."

  2. Ellen is sitting in the "O," talking to her parents, who are trying to console her.
    Ellen: "This is so out of nowhere. I mean, put yourself in my shoes. What if I said something shocking to you, like my whole life has been a lie and I'm really ... left handed."
    Ellen's Mom: "Oh god, you're a lefty?"

  3. As Ellen's parents continue to try to talk her out of the "O", her father explains that they are not separating to meet new people.
    Ellen's Dad: "It's not about finding someone else, it's about finding ourselves."
    At Ellen's request, they agree to go for counseling with her. It looks like her parents aren't the only ones who will "find themselves."

  4. In the middle of her babbling, Ed translates her story to the gang. Part of it seems to have no relevance to the situation.
    Ed: "Something about Jodie Foster."
    Perhaps this is a verbal "cameo" of a lesbian icon.
"The Parent Trap" - 10/16/96, 1/29/97
  1. Ellen is talking to her therapist about her parent's separation. Many of the comments could be equally relevant in a coming out plot.
    Ellen: "You think I'm silly, trying to keep up this ..."
    Therapist: "Charade."

    Therapist: "But above all, don't hide from your feelings."

    Later, Ellen tries, without success, to confront her feelings.
    She buries herself under a blanket, which - as someone pointed out to me - happens to be purple.
    Ellen: "Hiding from your feelings is really underrated."

  2. Failing to reunite her parents ala The Parent Trap, Ellen is left in her Cuban dress, unhappy. The rest of the gang is also costumed.
    Joe: "Come on, let's grab a drink. I know a bar where we'll fit right in"
    Ellen: "I don't know; I'm in a skirt."

  3. Ellen finally accepts her parents' decision. Her response mirrors what they might say to her coming out.
    Ellen: "I don't like what you're doing, but I can deal with it. 'Cause I have to. 'Cause you're my parents."

  4. Ellen's parents ask her to help them divide some memorabilia from her youth.
    Ellen's Dad: "This is a caricature we had made of you when you were nine and we all went to Disneyland ... and I really love this."
    Ellen's Mom: "I love it too, with your little short haircut, and your little pants, and your little vest."
    Ellen: "Aw, let me see..."
    She looks at the picture.
    Ellen: "That's Stevie."
"Looking Out For Number One" - 10/23/96, 3/11/97
  1. Ellen is seeing her second therapist, Claire, who encourages her to be "honest and direct." Much of the discussion is focused on Ellen being honest with herself, and it ends with the one obvious clue in this episode. It also includes a segment where Ellen refers to trying to get the point across via hints, rather than being open. Sound familiar? Claire also tells Ellen that she rambles.

    Claire: "Ellen, I think that you ramble because you're afraid that if you're direct and honest, people won't like you."
    Ellen: "Oh, you're so off base I don't even know how to address that. I hope you're not mad because I didn't agree with you"
    Claire: "Ellen, tell me, what's the worst thing that can happen if somebody doesn't like you?"
    Ellen: "They could yell at me, or make me look stupid in front of other people, destroy my life..."
    Claire: "Ellen, you can't be responsible for other people's reactions, so you might as well be honest and direct and if they don't like it, that's their problem."
    Ellen: "Well, that's easy enough for you to say, but what if it's a wartime situation and I'm being held hostage and I can't be honest because they're making me read my statement off a piece of paper. I mean, I guess I could try to get it across by ..."
    Ellen then proceed to make all sorts of bizarre "hinting" motions and gestures.
    Claire: "You're rambling again. If you must ramble, do it in your head, but when you speak, honest and direct. Understood?"
    Ellen: "Well, but what if there's ..."
    Claire: "Ellen - in your head."
    Ellen starts rambling in her head. We see her eyes start bouncing all over, and her facial expressions changing, for a few seconds.
    Ellen: "Understood."
    Claire: "Good. You have to start looking out for number one. Now I'd like to start talking to you about the role of men in your life."
    Ellens starts "rambling in her head" again, this time looking like she is completely losing her mind. Her face gets all contorted, she makes hand gestures, etc. This goes on for a while.
    Claire: "Ellen..."
    Ellen: "This could take a few minutes."

  2. Ellen finally tells Claire why she has been avoiding her, causing Claire to storm out and yell at her for being "honest and direct."

    Ellen: "No Claire was right. I told the truth, and when you tell the truth, you run the risk that someone's not going to like you and I may be wrong, but I don't think she likes me."
    Spence: "Yeah, I picked up on that too."
    Ellen: "But you know, I feel better. I feel really great. I feel like ... free. I just like, I got so much off my chest."

  3. And yet another tuna reference.
    Ellen: "I ordered tuna, this is egg salad ... with onion. Who would order this?"

  4. Audrey: "God, you are so confident, honest and intelligent sounding. It's like I don't even know you anymore."

"The Bubble Gum Incident" - 10/30/96, 6/25/97
    Everything was pretty lame this week. But never fear, we'll find something, whether it's there or not.

  1. Ellen is talking to Anne Rice, and gushing her praise. She happens to mention someone else. (Speaking of which, who caught Rosie's show when Ellen was on? "Maybe I'm Lebanese")

    Ellen: "I didn't see Exit to Eden. I mean, I love Rosie O'Donnell, but what was that all about?"

  2. Therapist: "Ellen, you will never be off the hook until you can be honest with Paige."
    Ellen: "Come on, it's hard enough being honest with you and you don't even care."

  3. Paige: "We've been friends for 25 years, we should be able to tell each other everything."
    Ellen: "Okay, so from now on we tell each other everything. Everything."

    Not that she did. And I'm not pretending it's a clue, but has anyone noticed how much closer Paige and Ellen are this season? After the above exchange, Ellen climbs onto Paige's cot, where they rest their heads on each other, kiss each other on the cheek, and both say "luv you." Awww. Well, at least they seem like actual friends this season.

"Harold and Ellen" - 11/6/96, 3/25/97
    Sorry this took so long. I've been rather busy lately.

  1. Ellen is talking to her latest therapist, who is quite silent, and letting her ramble on and on.
    Ellen: "No, I'm not in a relationship; I'm not. And it's not really because I'm not interested. It's just lately I've begun to question ... "
    The therapist begins snoring loudly.
    Ellen: "... why my parents and I don't do the things we used to do like dress up like bears and go to town square and dance for money."

"Not So Great Expectations" - 11/13/96, 3/18/97, 8/27/97
  1. Ellen is forced to join a video dating service to enable her snooping on her mother's date. She rambles during the shooting of her video, and the woman in charge tries to get her back on track.
    Dating service employee: "Tell us what you're looking for in a man."
    Ellen: "Oh. Nothing. ... in particular. Nothing - um - uh - you know - anything."

"The Pregnancy Test" - 11/20/96, 5/28/97
  1. Audrey: "Okay, Ellen, push those dungarees up so I can wax the rest of your leg."
    Ellen: "Why don't you just use a blowtorch, it would be more humane."
    A bit later,
    Audrey: "We'll take [the pregnancy test] with you."
    Ellen: "Sure. If it's less painful than waxing, I'm in."

  2. Ellen: "Boy, so if this little circle is blue, I'm pregnant. That's amazing."
    Audrey: "Ellen, if your little circle is blue, amazing is not the word."

  3. Audrey: "You know what, Paige? I think you'd make a really great mom."
    Paige: "Thanks."
    Audrey: "Ahem."
    Paige: "You too Audrey."
    Audrey: "Thank you."
    Ellen: "Ahem."
    Without a second thought, both Paige and Audrey hand Ellen some water.

  4. Yet another random reference to a semi-closeted star:
    Ellen: "Hey, George Michael's at the Forum. I was hoping he'd tour again."

  5. Ellen: "It's like they completely ignored my thoughts and feelings on having a baby, you know. I mean, I'm a woman, you know. Just because I don't wear pink and do my hair like Paige doesn't mean that I can't have a baby. I mean, why would they just assume that my circle wouldn't turn blue? I may as well just have peed on the flea collar."
    Therapist: "Since this is our first session, why don't you tell me?"
    Ellen: "I think that's kind of lazy, but okay. Maybe because I'm not in a quote-unquote relationship."
    Therapist: "Do you want a relationship?"
    Ellen: "No. Yes. I mean, I don't not want a relationship. What do you think I am, a freak?"
    The session continues, and at the end ...
    Ellen: "I mean, we're sitting there talking about really huge issues. Really big, life-changing issues and they just weren't paying attention. I felt I was on the outside looking in."
    Therapist: "Well, is this the first time you've felt that way?"
    Ellen: "AHAHAHA! Good one. AHA! ... No. No. It's just that last night I really, I didn't feel like one of them."
    Therapist: "What is one of them?"
    Ellen: "I don't know."
    Therapist: "Well, how do you think you're different?"
    Ellen: "I don't know."
    Therapist: "You know, it must be very painful to feel like you don't fit in anywhere."
    Ellen: "You're starting to bum me out."

  6. The next therapy session continues to be fruitful.
    Therapist: "Well, do you still feel like you're outside looking in?"
    Ellen: "Of course I do, yeah. I mean, I always feel like that, but that'll pass."
    Therapist: "Well, it might. And it might not."
    Ellen: "But it might. It will. I mean, why wouldn't it?"
    Therapist: "Well, why would you think it probably would?"
    Ellen: " 'Cause it's a phase, you know? It'll pass."
    Therapist: "Well, I don't know if that's true. I mean, how long have you felt this way?"
    Ellen: "My whole life."
    Therapist: "Ellen, this might not be a phase. Have you ever thought that maybe this is a struggle you're going through to painfully avoid something that you really need to look at?"
    Ellen: "You're starting to bum me out again."
"Kiss My Bum" - 11/27/96, 7/2/97
  1. Aunt Ferne: "So Ellen, tell me, are you seeing anybody? Because if you're not I could ..."
    The doorbell rings and Ellen goes to answer it.
    Ellen: "Oh, and I was just about to answer you. Too bad."

    NOTE: Starting next week, ABC is moving Ellen to 9:30 pm. This time change may well be to place the coming out plot - which finally does seem to be developing - in a time slot more "appropriate" to the "adult subject matter." As rooted in homophobia as such moves are, it seems to bode well for the coming out plot.
"Bowl, Baby, Bowl" - 12/4/96, 6/4/97
  1. Ellen is on the therapist's couch, talking.
    Ellen: "I was with a man, and then I was with a woman for a little while. And then I was with a man again, and then with another man and see, then woman, woman, man, woman, and then another man. And you know, lately I'm beginning to think it doesn't really matter if it's a man or a woman, you know? It's the person that counts. But one thing I know for sure, I can't keep going from therapist to therapist like this."

  2. The color purple returns, this time as Ellen's bowling ball, which she twice mentions explicitly.
    Ellen: "Purple house ball, take no prisoners."
    Ellen: "Come on, swirly purple ball."

  3. Even Ed, her boss, knows Ellen's true nature.
    Ed: "Oh Ellen, you do play pool, don't you?"

  4. As does Paige, who has to explain men to her.
    Ellen: "He's such a baby"
    Paige: "No Ellen, he's being a man. And men hate to lose, especially to a woman. Just do something to make him feel more MANLY again."
    Ellen: "Like what, ask him to open a jar?"

  5. Ed: "Well Ellen, you might as well put Mr. Big Stick to bed."
    Ellen: "Miss Big Stick."

"Fleas Navidad" - 12/18/96, 7/9/97
  1. Ellen: "I've changed my mind, I'm not going to leave the dog."
    Guy at Kennel: (contemptuously) "Women."
    Ellen: "SHUT UP!"

  2. During the closing credits:
    Audrey: "Let's all open our gifts."
    Ellen: "Oh wow, the new comedy CD Taste This by Ellen DeGeneres. What a thoughtful and hilarious gift."
    Joe: "Hey, I got a Jaguar. Anybody want to trade a car for Taste This?"
    Ellen: "Oh yeah, right, like we're going to do that."
    Spence: "Are you insane? Stupid."
    Ellen: "Boy, Ellen DeGeneres. I love her show. Do you think the rumors are true?"
"Alone Again ... Naturally" - 1/8/97, 4/1/97
  1. Emily: "Ellen, say hi to my Sparkle Beach Barbie."
    Ellen: "Okay. Hi Sparkle Beach Barbie. Emily, you do know that in the real world, women don't look like this."
    Emily: "You don't think my Barbie's pretty?"
    Ellen: "I think there are different types of pretty. That's not the only type"
    Ellen picks up the Ken doll.
    Ellen: "Say hello to bookstore manager Barbie."
    Emily: "That's Ken."
    Ellen: "I know it's Ken. The point is that these clothes would look fine on a Sparkle Beach Barbie, or anybody for that matter. I actually have these pants."

  2. Emily: "Ellen, how come you didn't go out tonight like mommy and daddy?"
    Ellen: "Because I wanted to stay here with you two."
    Emily: "No really. Why?"
    Ellen: "Well, 'cause I like staying in and relaxing. You don't always have to go out to have fun. Besides, it's a weeknight. Not everybody goes out on weeknights. Wanna watch TV?"
    From the Television: "4 ... 3 ... 2 ... 1 ... Happy New Year!"

  3. Joe: "Ellen, I really wish you'd gone to that New Year's Eve party with me."
    Ellen: "Well, I'm glad I stayed home. I hate New Year's Eve. There's so much pressure. You have to go to a big party; you have to kiss a stranger at midnight, so you sneak out at 11:30 ..." [and she rambles on]

  4. Ellen: "I took a look at myself, and I realized, Ellen Morgan's life is boring."
    Audrey: "Finally, someone besides me is saying these words!"
    Ellen: "Well, for Ellen Morgan, 1997 is going to be the year of living dangerously. I am going to do things I have never done before."
    [a few lines cut]
    Ellen: "I am going to do things that I've always wanted to do, but I've never had the courage to do."

  5. Ellen: "I'm here alone. It's my New Year's resolution. Decided to live more dangerously, do things I wouldn't normally do."
    Attendant: "So you came to a romantic restaurant, alone?"
    Ellen: "Yeah, why not? The food's good, the atmosphere's great, why can't I come here and have the time of my life?"
    Attendant: "So are you?"
    Ellen: "No. I'm miserable. It's just couples, and they're just gazing into each other's eyes. It's so lovey-dovey. I mean, how's a person supposed to have a good time?"

  6. At pottery class, a neighboring guy takes an interest in Ellen, and tries to help her with her pot.
    Guy: "My name's Guy. What's yours?"
    Ellen: "Girl. Okay, thanks, I think I got it."
    Guy: "Hold on. Now let the clay speak to you."
    He steps behind her, puts his arms around her and onto the clay.
    Guy: "What's it saying?"
    Ellen: "I think it's saying, two hands good, four hands bad."

  7. Still at the wheel, Ellen starts singing Unchained Melody like the scene in the movie Ghost. Guy starts singing. Ellen looks disgusted, but they sing rather frighteningly for a bit.
    Ellen: "Get away from me! What are you doing?!"

  8. Ellen: "I just want my life to be different; I want it to be exciting, I want it to mean something."
    Attendant: "Honey, it does. Listen, I got three kids. Let me tell you what I tell them. When you finally stop running around, chasing your tail, that's when you'll see that big bone that you've been looking for the whole time. Well, all right, that's not what I tell my kids, that's what I tell my dog, but you get my point."
    Ellen: "I get your point. That is so true. Except for the bone part. I'm a vegetarian."

    [Max's note: I was ROTFL at this line. Not only is Ellen not interested in the "bone," but I was reminded of the joke about "vagitarians."]

  9. The parade of gay stars in random comments continues.
    Ellen: "So I had this dream where I'm a zebra, and I'm swimming in a pool, doing the Macarena with k.d. lang."
"Joe's Kept Secret" - 1/15/96, 6/11/97
  1. Ellen: "Finally, the world will see me for what I am ... a homeowner "

  2. Subtle it is not ...
    Ellen: "Joe, who am I to judge anybody on relationships? "
    Joe: "Thank you."
    Ellen: "And I only hope that someday if I have a slightly odd relationship, you too will not judge me."
    Joe: "Can I laugh?"
    Ellen: "Anyway, I'm happy for you."
    Joe: "Well, thanks. It feels great to finally get this out in the open. Do you have any idea how hard it was for me keeping this a secret, living a lie? Scared of what others might think?"
    Ellen: "No."
    But then she hesitates slightly, averting her eyes.

  3. At lunch with Ellen, Madeline waxes poetic on the wonders of sex with men. Ellen pretends to go along, joking about it, but is clearly uncomfortable.

  4. The next three items actually occur in succession. I've separated them to differentiate the clues.
    Audrey: "Ellen, it's just that we've never seen you dressed like this before. You're so ... accessorized."
    Ellen: "What are you talking about? Remember last summer, I had the shirt with the matching hat?"
    Spence: "Ellen, you were in a softball league."
  5. Joe: "Ellen, face it. You're a kept woman."
    Audrey: "Ooh, this is getting exciting!"
  6. Ellen: "I am not a kept woman. These are not gift-gifts. They are just gifts, for thanks yous, for being me."
    Joe: "Where have I heard that before?"
    Ellen: "This is very different, Joe. She is not buying me TVs and couches and paying my rent because I'm a good snuggler - which I am ..."

  7. Ellen: "It's a brand new kind of detergent. It's not even on the market yet, don't go looking for it, it's called OUT - OUT ... damn spots."

  8. Ellen: "Madeline, I have to break up with you."

    The entire premise of this episode can be looked upon as a "clue." Madeline makes it quite clear that she is involved with Joe for the sex. After Joe breaks up with Madeline, Ellen takes his place. While the actual relationship between Ellen and Madeline is a platonic one, sexual overtones permeate it in its entirety, not the least of which is the symbolism of Ellen taking over for Joe, who was the amazing lover.

"Makin' Whoopie" - 1/22/97, 6/18/97
  1. The opening sequence is a bit of a dyke moment, with Ellen and guest Me'Shell NdegeOcello.

  2. Audrey: "Ellen, what happened to you? You can hardly walk."
    Ellen: "Oh, well, I picked up some guy at that party last night."
    Joe and Audrey look incredulous and completely flabbergasted, and look at Ellen like she's lost her mind.
    Ellen: "No - I lifted some guy up."

  3. Audrey: "Ellen, they can dress you up, but they can't take you ... actually, they can't even dress you up."

  4. Ellen goes to the hospital to apologize to Dr. Haddassi, and to try to smooth things over on Spence's behalf. He moves closer and closer, as she tries to back away.
    Dr. Haddassi: "We both know what's going on here. I felt it last night when you were on the piano singing to me. You wanted me bad. It was almost palpable"
    Ellen: "Oh no, nothing was palpable. Nothing palping at all."
    Dr. Haddassi: "Are you trying to tell me there's nothing between us?"
    Ellen: "Yes. Spence is the one who wants to play doctor with you, really."
    Dr. Haddassi: "I understand. But just know, I can't leave my wife."
    He then tries to kiss her.
    Ellen slugs him, and sends him flying a good 20 feet, landing flat on his back.

"Ellen Unplugged" - 2/5/97, 8/13/97
  1. Ellen: "It's a Mr. Microphone."
    Ellen into microphone: "Hey good looking, I'll be back to pick you up later."
    Ellen: "Finally, they'll hear me when I say that."

  2. This one seems to be a play on the fact that Ellen Morgan was so guy-crazy for a bit (well, as much as she could be.)
    Audrey: "So, Ellen, what was you first concert?"
    Ellen: "AC/DC."

  3. This week's title sequence featured Queen Latifah.

  4. Ellen: "Here it is, here it is, my old song journal. These songs I wrote in high school ... 'I'm a Big Phony,' 'Nobody Likes Me,' 'Nobody Likes Me, Part 2,' 'Johnny Palizzi Likes Me,' 'I Was Wrong About Johnny Palizzi,' 'Nobody Like Me, Part 3.'"

  5. Spence: "This is Rock and Roll Dream Camp. You can be anyone you want to be ... Melissa Etheridge, right, k.d. lang, Indigo Girls"

  6. Paige: "Ellen, why are you so afraid?"
    Ellen: "I'm not afraid."
    Paige: "Right. You're always afraid of looking foolish. You're always concerned about what other people think of you. Ellen, you're older now. You've got to start being bolder now."

  7. Ellen's band at the camp consists of herself and three men. The three guys are hanging out when Ellen and Paige enter the room. Some of the band members get annoyed with Paige.
    Hesh (to Paige): "There is no offense intended, but the number one policy of our band is NO CHICKS! Ellen, would you like a nice root beer?"

  8. Ellen sings the new song she has written at the camp.

    When I was little, 5 or 6 or 7,
    I used to live at home with my folks
    I was scared of lizards, I was scared of spiders,
    Scared of my mom's old pot roast.

    Well now I'm kinda older,
    I know I should be older,
    But baby that just ain't the case.
    I'm scared of looking foolish,
    And though it may sound foolish,
    I'm scared of getting punched in the face.
    Well, I'm scared of being afraid.
    I'm scared of being afraid.
    I'm scared of being afraid .

    Bonnie Raitt: They say the only thing to fear is fear itself.
    Aaron Neville: But what about food that's been sitting too long on a shelf?

    I'm tired of sleeping my life away.
    I'm crazy for being insane.
    I'm sorry for apologizing.
    But I'm scared of being afraid.

    That's right, you heard what I say,
    My throat's dry I need lemonade.
    I don't want to eat a grenade.
    I don't want to lead a parade.

    Obviously the "I'm scared of being afraid" theme is noteworthy. Other items to note include "I'm scared of getting punched in the face," which could be a comment on the very real problem of homophobic hate crimes, and "I don't want to lead a parade," which brings to mind gay pride parades and the understandable reticence of public figures who "happen to be gay" to become leaders of the gay community.

  9. During the closing credits, Ellen and the band sing "Ain't Too Proud to Beg." None of the lyrics are changed from "girl", and Ellen is positively gleeful as she throws some rather intense looks at Sherly Crow (in an uncredited cameo) while she sings:

    Now I got a love so deep in the pit of my heart,
    And each day it grows more and more.
    I'm not ashamed to come and plead to you baby,
    If pleading keeps you from walking out that door.

    Ain't too proud to beg, sweet darlin',
    Please don't leave me girl, don't you go.
    Ain't too proud to plead, baby baby,
    Please don't leave me girl, don't you go.

  10. Perhaps the biggest clue in this episode is the one we do not see, the infamous off-the-cuff verse to "I'm Scared of Being Afraid" that caused Disney to confiscate the tape and ABC to state it would never air.

    So here's what I have to say... And by the way, I'm gay! It's okay! I'm gay, I'm gay.
"Ellen's Deaf Comedy Jam" - 2/12/97, 7/23/97
  1. Audrey is in Ellen's bedroom, having woken Ellen up in the middle of the night. (We again see the photos above Ellen's bed first seen in "A Deer Head for Joe.")
    Ellen: "Audrey, Mike broke up with you a week ago. You can't keep coming in here every single night. What if I was with somebody?"
    Audrey: "HA HA HA HA HA. Ellen, thank you. I knew you'd cheer me up."

  2. In the bookstore, Ellen is trying to comfort a disconsolate Audrey.
    Ellen: "Audrey, Audrey, Audrey. I know this is hard. It's going to be sad for a while. But give yourself some time, a week, a month. You'll get over it; you'll bounce back."
    A man walks through the door. Audrey sees him, but Ellen's back is turned to him, so she doesn't notice him, and think Audrey is still speaking to her.
    Audrey: "Holy Guacamole! What a fox!"
    Ellen: "Thank you very much Audrey."

  3. Ellen: "Audrey, Brian made a pass at me. I know it's crazy."

  4. Ellen is on the phone with Brian (through a relay operator) trying to rebuff his "advances" and tell him that Audrey likes him.
    Ellen: "And as far as the thing between you and me, I think that it's best for everyone if we just pretend that whole thing didn't happen."

  5. Brian: "Are you saying that I made a pass at you?"
    Ellen: "Well, I don't want to dwell on it, but you did say that you found me incredibly sexy and you wanted to see me again."
    Brian can't stop laughing.

  6. Audrey: "Oh Ellen, let's promise to never let a man come between us, ever again,"
    Ellen: "Oh, I can honestly say that won't happen."

    Update: Ellen signs something the beginning of the show, which upon translation by Peter, makes her run off, ill. Some initial comments have indicated that it the signs for "thirst/lust/desire/want" and well as "together" or "group" so it might well have been a clue, or just amusing. A correspondent had the segment translated, and said that it is mostly just gibberish, and not anything coherent.
"Hello, Dalai" - 2/19/97, 7/30/97
  1. In the teaser, Ellen and Peter are desperately trying to get TV reception of the Dalai and none other than Oprah, who is supposedly going to be playing the therapist to whom Ellen comes out in the big coming out episode.

  2. Ellen: "I can't wait to learn more about myself."

  3. Ellen and Peter are approached by a woman, who thinks they are a couple. Ellen and Peter are intensely uncomfortable.
    Alice: "Hi. We're Alice and Harry. Don't we know you from the "Making Love Work" workshop last year?"
    Ellen: "Uhhh ... I don't think so. No ... we're not ... uh, he's ... I'm ... No."
    Reading between the lines, and adding the words she doesn't say, this sounds like "... we're not together ... uh, he's gay ... I'm ..."

  4. Ellen is talking to Harry, who thinks the retreat is a load of crap. Her words could apply to other situations.
    Ellen: "You know, maybe if you gave this place a chance, you'd be accepting of other human beings. Like me."

  5. In this exercise, the patrons of the retreat are supposed to speak to themselves in a mirror, honestly.
    Dalai: "If you want to get in touch with your inner wise man ..."
    Ellen: "Or wise person"
    Dalai: "... what you must do is look in the mirror and speak to yourself honestly. Ellen ..."
    Ellen: "Ellen, I have a few things to say to you that are gonna be hard to hear, but better it comes from me. You sometimes worry too much about what others think of you. And sometimes you lose your temper , and even though you were provoked - Harry - it's no excuse. But it's okay, because you're growing and learning."

  6. Peter is next, but Ellen keeps getting in the way.
    Peter: "Peter, you still haven't gotten over the pain of adolescence. Sometimes you ..."
    Ellen: "Peter. Peter, you just reminded me of something I wish I has said. Can I? ..."
    Peter: "No problem ..."
    Ellen: "Ellen, sometimes you didn't fit in when you were a teenager. And sometimes you still feel the same way now."
  7. Peter: "Number two. Peter, you are more comfortable giving love than receiving love. Sometimes ..."
    Ellen: "Peter, I'm sorry, again, you're reminding me of things that I should have said. Is it a problem?"
    Peter is getting increasingly frustrated, but is ever gracious.
    Peter: "No, why would it be a problem?"
    Ellen: "Ellen - look at me - sometimes you care too much. But all in all, you're very happy. And it's great that you're happy. Are you blushing? You need to learn to take a compliment."
    Peter: "And finally Peter, you're gay. Ellen ..."
    This time, Peter has no hesitation. Ellen, on the other hand,
    Ellen: "I don't have anything else."
    She looks, however, like someone who has just been outed, and is trying to gloss it over and pretend it didn't happen. And convince herself that it isn't true.

  8. The next exercise is to learn how others see you.
    Peter: "Ellen, you are a kind and gentle soul."
    Ellen cradles Peter's cheek with her hand, and responds happily to him.
    Peter: "You have a heart as big as all outdoors."
    Ellen: "But outdoors is sooo big ..."
    Peter: "But I don't think you're as happy as you pretend to be. In fact, I think you pretend about a lot of things. And uh, in fact, I don't think you're completely honest with yourself."
    Ellen has gone from looking delighted to looking very concerned.
    Peter: "For instance, and Barrett will agree with me on this, sometimes you ..."
    Ellen clamps her hand around Peter's mouth, preventing him from saying another word. It looks like she knows exactly what he is going to say, but she does not want to hear a word of it.

  9. In the hot tub, Ellen and Peter exchange words about the previous discussion.
    Ellen: "Why would I be upset? Because you told me that I was unhappy, which is totally untrue. I'm very happy. I'm happy right now, in the mineral tub, with Harry and Alice and this lovely naked lady here..."
    Ellen looks at the woman for a while, before quickly averting her glance.
    Ellen: "... discovering the innocence of my child, which you can only do naked..."
    Somehow, one doubts it was childlike innocence that Ellen was discovering at that moment.

  10. In a dream-like sequence, Ellen's friends appear to her as unpleasant thoughts.
    Audrey: "So Ellen, word around the clouds is Peter told you the truth, and you can't handle it."
  11. Peter (wearing an Ellen mask and speaking as her): "I'm a phony. I'm a phony. I'm a phony, unhappy baloney."

  12. Dalai: "Are you ready to take your first step into the life of confidence and self-discovery?"
    Ellen: "I gotta do this."
    Dalai: "Indecision will be a thing of the past!"
    Ellen: "Oh, he's talking to me!"
    But moments later,
    Ellen: "Can the warrior have doubts?"

  13. There's nothing gayer than the Village People.
    Dalai: "Ellen, you have the power of six guides within you."
    Ellen: "That's true. The healer, the warrior, the indian chief, the construction worker, the policeman ... some of those are Village People."

  14. As shown in the past, Ellen is scared to death of being seen as different. This can be a big impediment to coming out.
    Dalai: "Oh Ellen, you're not alone. Everyone has fears; everyone has doubts. You're no different. No one can be happy all the time."
    Ellen: "Really?"
    Dalai: "Yes."
    Ellen: "So I'm no different than anybody else? I'm like everybody else?"
    Dalai and everyone: "Yes!"
    Ellen is thrilled, and easily runs across the hot coals, shouting,
    Ellen: " I'm like everybody else! I'm like everybody else!"
    But no one else will follow her, and she becomes upset and frustrated.
    Ellen: "Come on, I don't want to be... You said I'm no different than anybody else!"

"Secrets & Ellen" - 2/26/97, 7/16/97
  1. Ellen: "Why do you do this? Why do you have to make up these stories to impress somebody else? You should be more confident."

  2. Ellen and her family have gone to what is supposedly her church. They are the only white people there, and Ellen's Grammy questions her about it. Ellen insists that it is her regular church, and that it's the
    Ellen: "Only place I feel I really fit in."
    More than anything, we see the recurring theme of Ellen feeling she doesn't really fit in anywhere.

  3. Ellen: "Here's what you need to know: I still own the bookstore, I'm an usher at my church, and Joe, you're my boyfriend."
    Joe: "I prefer 'life partner.'"

  4. This clue, like others, is really as much a comment about how Ellen feels about Joe than about men in general, but it is applicable, and I'll make anything into a clue.
    Throughout the episode Joe gets into his role as Ellen's fake boyfriend, and keeps trying to kiss her. She fights him off quite convincingly, and tells him several times to "Get your hand off my ass."
    More interesting, perhaps, is that in the first such incident, when Ellen turns to avoid Joe's attempted smooch, she almost ends up kissing Audrey, who is semi-puckered up on her other side.

  5. Audrey: "Ellen, why don't you just tell her the truth?"
    Ellen: "She can't handle the truth! I can't handle the truth."

  6. Grammy: "I can't tell you how happy I am about you and Joe."
    Ellen: "Oh good, then don't."

  7. Grammy: "I see so much of myself in you Ellen. I mean, a god-fearing woman who runs her own business, is madly in love with a handsome, hardworking man."
    Ellen: "That's me. God-fearing, hard-loving, business-owning Ellen."
    Hard loving, eh?

  8. Ellen: "Oh well, look at us. What a family we are. Three generations of liars. Liar, liar, pants on fire. And it's time we put our pants out."
"Reversal of Misfortune" - 3/4/97, 8/20/97
  1. Self-Defense Instructor: "Bang the drum, say your power word, and choose a word that best expresses your inner strength."
    Woman: "Xena!"
    Ellen: "See, that's the word that I chose."
    Considering all the lesbian subtext on Xena these days, it is telling that Ellen considers "Xena" the word that best expresses her "inner strength."

  2. Audrey: "Poor Ellen, a child of divorce. You know, studies show that she now has a 50 percent chance of winding up divorced herself."
    Joe: "Well, at least that's a 50 percent better chance than she had before."

  3. Ellen is entering an elevator with her parents as a man and a woman exit. Ellen says to the woman, out of the blue,
    Ellen: "Hi, that's a pretty outfit."
    and looks out of the elevator for a lingering look. Plus, the outfit is purple.
"The Clip Show Patient" - 4/8/97, 8/6/97
    I couldn't find any clues in this episode of clips. But I must say, Ellen looks a lot better with short hair and minimal makeup compared to some of those old clips.
"The Puppy Episode" - 4/30/97, 9/3/97
    The Final "Clues"

  1. Ellen is in Susan's room, having just escaped from Richard's, where she found herself in a sexual situation.
    Ellen: "Your room is exactly like his."

  2. Ellen: "I mean, why am I not interested?" [in Richard]
    Susan: "I can't imagine."

  3. Ellen returns to Richard's room, and in her haste to prove she's not gay, she is so forceful that she actually ends up pushing him away - literally.

  4. Then, she tries to sleep with him, but has trouble "performing." This and several other jokes play on twisting gender roles.
    Ellen: "I'm sorry Richard. This has never happened to me before."
    Richard: "It's okay. It happens. You're probably just tired."

  5. Ellen: "Oh men, men, men. Why do I love men so much?"
    Paige: "You said that?"
    Ellen: "Yes, I was just so turned on, you know, from him being a man and me ... not being one."

  6. Ellen: "I guess I'm just a sucker for man-woman sex."
    Joe: "Man-woman sex?"

The Meta-Clues

By the time the episode aired, not only had half the scenes been showed in clips on various media outlets, but Ellen's coming out had become a phenomenon. The episode poked fun at the hype and controversy of the previous months more than once.

  1. The title of "The Puppy Episode" itself was born long before the episode ever came about. The show had long floundered, looking for a direction for its lead character. Initial suggestions that the character come out as gay were immediately quashed by the network, and one network executive actually suggested that Ellen Morgan should get a puppy to give the show some focus. Later, when it was decided to try to bring Ellen out of the closet, "The Puppy Episode" became a code name for the top-secret coming out concept/episode. The "puppy" information leaked out, as did the entire coming out plan, so when "Fleas Navidad" aired in December, there was some initial speculation that this would be *the* episode. However, that episode actually had Ellen finding a puppy, and no more. Once the coming out was finally approved, the title remained.

  2. There was the hype, and the "special" hour-long episode.
    The episode opens in the bookstore, with the gang waiting impatiently for Ellen to appear.
    Spence: "It's like she's been in there forever."
    Paige: "Ellen are you coming out or not?"
    Joe: "Yeah Ellen, quit jerking us around and come out already."
    Ellen: "What's the big deal? I've got a whole hour."

  3. Even the "clues" themselves became a joke.
    Therapist: "Ellen, if you keep this to yourself, you're going to continue to have these dreams. And then it's going to show up in your waking life, as these little clues, that get more and more obnoxious, and eventually tiresome."

  4. And, of course, Disney vs. Southern Baptists et al.
    Therapist: "So what are you going to do now? "
    Ellen: "I'm going to Disneyland!"

  5. What started as a joke specific to the episode became took on a life of its own - the toaster oven joke. Long after the show ended, getting a toaster oven became a euphemism for helping someone come out, and even mutated to mean coming out. In the closing credits, Melissa Etheridge presented Susan with her "incentive prize," a Krups toaster over. I've been told that Krups was formed by two gay men and remains a very gay friendly company, in addition to making some top-notch appliances.

  6. Another joke that became something greater was the cake joke.
    Ellen: "I mean, you never see a cake that says 'Good for you, you're gay. "
    After the episode was shot, guest star Oprah Winfrey and the cast and crew present Ellen DeGeneres with a huge cake that said, of course, "Good for you, you're gay." Not a few cakes bearing that phrase appeared at parties around the country. (And baffling clueless Syracuse grocery employees, it seems.)

The Gay "In-Jokes" and Background Clues

  1. Gaydar. Some people swear by it, some swear at it. Regardless of one's perception, it's undoubtedly a big part of the gay lexicon. It was mentioned in the episode both pre- and post-coming out.
    Susan: "I'm sorry. I just kinda got that vibe."
    Ellen: "Vibe? Like a gay vibe? What, like I'm giving off some sort of gay vibrations?"
    And later,
    Audrey: "Ellen! Eight o'clock! There's a lesbian staring at you!"
    Ellen: "Oh, god, I must be giving off one of those vibes again. That's what we do, we give off vibrations, and then we pick up the vibrations with our gaydar. I mean, anyway, so I've heard."
    Peter: "It's true."

  2. As Ellen and Susan leave the airport after Ellen's "announcement," there is a gay male couple seated behind them, who are watching and smiling for her.

  3. Gay Ghettos.
    Ellen: "I mean, you never see a cake that says 'Good for you, you're gay.' Well, maybe at the Baskin-Robbins in West Hollywood."
  4. When Ellen is talking to Susan in the bookstore, there are two gay-themed books on display behind her, Growing Up Gay and Jeanette Winterson's classic Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit.

  5. Little Frida's is a real lesbian coffeehouse in L.A., and has been a fixture in the community for years. The scene was shot on a set, however.

  6. k.d. lang's Janine character in the coffeeshop was a walking caricature of a "typical" lesbian, with the "rural dyke" haircut, plethora of pride buttoms and feminst anthem.

  7. Melissa Etheridge, who came out publicly at the 1993 Presidential Inauguration Traingle Ball, appears in the final credits scene.
    Melissa Etheridge: "Okay Miss Morgan, I have just one question for you. Are you gay?"
    Ellen: "Yes, yes I am."
    Yes I Am was the title of Etheridge's big post-coming out album, and widely used as a statement of confirmation of her own lesbianism.

The Commercials

Money talks, especially in Hollywood, so much was made of the commercials which were, and were not, part of the historic hour of television that was "The Puppy Episode." Notably - and publicly - absent were ads from Chrysler, JC Penney, and Wendy's. In an odd sort of double standard, ABC refused to sell national ad space to the Human Rights Commission for their PSA "Shoes, which highlighted the fact that it is still legal in most states to fire employees for no other reason than the fact they are gay. ABC called it a "political" ad in their justification for the refusal. The lesbian focused Olivia Cruises was also denied national ad space (I think. It was a year ago.) Several of the ads which did run had a noticeably gay slant.
  1. The very first ad was a Volkswagon ad, featuring two young men, in an ambiguous relationship, tooling around in their car. Many viewers saw them as a gay couple, and Volkswagon stated the relationship was open to interpretation, and meant to appeal to everyone.
  2. Ads for the movie My Best Friend's Wedding, which featured openly gay actor Rupert Everett playing a gay man, played up several gay lines directed towards Julia Robert's central character. These lines were often not included in ads that ran during other shows.
    "We though you were a lesbian."
    "You dress kind of butch."
  3. A GAP commercial featured actors David Arquette and Lucas Haas, who appeared together in the gay-themed movie Johns.

The Guest Stars

The episode was packed with guest stars, many of whom are gay, vocal supporters of gay rights, or known for playing gay characters.
  1. Ellen DeGeneres' mother Betty DeGeneres had a cameo as one of the people in the airport during the big coming out scene.

  2. During the dream sequence, Billy Bob Thorton, Dwight Yoakam, Demi Moore, Jenny Shimizu, k.d. lang, and Gina Gershon all had roles. k.d. lang was one of the first mainstream entertainers to come out. Jenny Shimizu is an out lesbian model. Gina Gershon has become a lesbian icon for her role as the butch ex-con "Corky" in the movie Bound.

  3. At Little Frida's , k.d. lang plays a second part, this time as the server, Janine. Also present in the crowd are Leisha Hailey of the Murmurs (and happened to be k.d. lang's girlfriend at the time.) Kathy Najimy, a close friend of Ellen DeGeneres and a fervent campaigner for gay-rights, also had a cameo. This scene was supposedly packed with friends and VIPs. Did anyone else catch another other "celebrities?"

  4. Jorja Fox, best known for her role as the lesbian resident Maggie Doyle on ER, played the woman who hits on Paige at the coffeeshop.

  5. Melissa Etheridge, as mentioned previously, played the representative from "National Headquarters" who presents Susan her toaster oven in the closing credits. Etheridge recorded a theme song for an earlier season of Ellen that was never used. She also recorded a song that was to have been used in the opening credits of "The Puppy Episode." The song was not used, for time considerations, and reportedly, because it "gave too much away."

The Stereotypes

The episode seemed to address nearly every stereotype about gays and lesbians. The few that remained appeared in later episodes.
  1. Gays Recruit.
    Who could ever forget the toaster oven gag?
    Ellen: "I think I know what's going on. You ... It's not enough for you to be gay, you've got to recruit others."
    Susan: "Yeah, I'll have to call national headquarters and tell them that I lost you. Damn, just one more and I would have gotten that toaster oven."

  2. Any gay person is automatically interested in *every* person of the same sex.
    As Ellen struggles to get out of Susan's room, she refuses to let Susan touch her in any way.

    And after Ellen comes out,
    Janine: "Hi, I'm Janine."
    Ellen: "Listen Janine ... Hi ... I just realized I'm gay, so I'm not really ready to start dating or anything."
    Janine: "Well good for you. I'm your waitress."
    Audrey: "Uh-oh, Ellen. Your first gay faux-pas."

  3. Watching gay movies and learning about homosexuality will turn people gay.
    Ellen: "Oh god, why did I ever rent Personal Best?"
    Therapist: "You can't blame this on the media, Ellen."
    Personal Best was a 1983 movie featuring Patrice Donnelly and Mariel Hemingway (who later played one of Nancy's lovers on Roseanne) as Olympic hopefuls and teammates who became lovers. This is also a bit of a meta-joke, considering the whole controversy concerning the media circus that sprung up around Ellen's coming out.

  4. Gay people stop associating with straights when they come out.
    Therapist: "Are you planning on talking to your friends"
    Ellen: "Oh, yes, obviously, of course. I'm not going to stop talking to them just because I'm ..."

  5. Once someone comes out, they cease to have any identity other than "gay."
    Audrey: "Now, what should we call you, 'gay' or 'lesbian'?"
    Ellen: "How about, 'Ellen'?"

  6. Lesbians exist to satisfy straight men's fantasies/Lesbians are like straight men's fantasies about lesbians.
    Spence: "Ellen, I love you and respect whatever you do. And if you want to bring a woman home, I'm cool with that. Very cool."

  7. By coming out, someone is opening the door to all the details of their sex life.
    Joe: "Have you kissed her yet?"
    Ellen: "No, and it's none of your business."
    Joe: "I'm sorry, that was insensitive. But you will tell me, right?"
    Ellen: "Yeah, Joe, that's the plan."
    This also ties in with the previous stereotype.

  8. Gay relationships are unstable, lack commitment and never last long.
    Susan: "Oh, Ellen, I'm in an eight-year relationship."
    A few lines later,
    Ellen: "Eight years ... boy ... so it must be getting pretty serious."

  9. All lesbians are masculine and all gay men are effeminate.
    Spence: "Well, I always thought for a while that she might be [gay]. I mean, even as a kid, she could throw a football farther than me, you know, climb a tree faster, always beat me at arm wrestling."
    Joe: "Did you ever think that you might be gay?"

  10. Gay people live completely separate lives from straight people, just by virtue of being gay.
    Audrey: "So Ellen, what do you think of Little Frida's?"
    Ellen: "It's cute. I haven't been here before."
    Peter: "Surprise! It's a lesbian coffeehouse."
    Audrey: "You've been living in our world, now we want to experience your world."
    Ellen: "Since when did my world become a lesbian coffeehouse?"

  11. All gay people are alike, a big gay monolith.
    Janine: "Can I get you something to drink?"
    Audrey: "Oh! What do you people like to drink?"
    Janine: "Ice tea."

  12. Lesbian Chic. People become gay because it's the in thing.
    Spence: "There are a lot of beautiful women in here."
    Joe: "Yes, it's very fashionable to be lesbian now."
    Ellen: "Yeah, you know, that's pretty much why I did it. You know. It was either that or getting a nose-ring. I couldn't decide."

Coming Out is Hard to Do

Coming out is more than saying "I'm gay." As the entire season of Ellen attempted to illustrate, it is often a slow process in which the individual slowly comes to terms with her own orientation, and then shares that with others. Throughout the process, one must come to terms with the homophobia that exists without and within, in oneself, friends, family, random starngers, and the monolith that is "society." It is a process that never really ends.

This episode included many steps in the process, and to document them all, I'd have to transcribe pretty much the entire episode. But here a few key moments.

  1. Denial
    We saw Ellen first denying her homosexuality to herself and others, and making a last ditch effort to be straight.
    Ellen: "What, what is that, gay humor? "Cause I don't get it. That's how un-gay I am."

  2. Coming Out to Self
    In therapy, she finally came to terms with herself.
    Ellen: "It's not like I'm looking for perfection, I just want somebody special, somebody I click with."
    Therapist: "And obviously you didn't click with Richard?"
    Ellen shakes her head "no."
    Therapist: "Has there every been anyone you felt you clicked with?"
    Ellen shakes her head "yes."
    Therapist: "And what was his name?"
    Ellen: "Susan."

  3. Coming Out for the First Time
    Ellen: "Please let me just talk. You know how you, you know, you said in the room, you know, that you thought that maybe I was, you know, and I said no, no, no, no, no, well um I was thinking about it, you know, and I think that maybe I'm, I am ... I guess what I'm trying to say is I did get the joke about the toaster oven."
    Susan: "So are you saying what I think you're trying to say?"
    Ellen: "What do you think I'm trying to say?"
    Susan: "Oh, I'm not going to say it again and be wrong."
    Ellen: "No, you're not wrong, you're right. Um, this is ... this is so hard. But I ... I think I've realized that I am ... I can't even say the word. What can't I say the word? I mean, why can't I just say ... I mean what is wrong? Why do I have to be so ashamed? Why can't I just say the truth? I mean, be who I am. I'm 35 years old. I'm so afraid to tell people. I mean, I just ...
    Susan, I'm gay.

    That felt great. That felt so great. And it felt so loud."

  4. Looking Back and Looking Forward
    Ellen: "I guess it's been going on for a while now."
    Therapist: "But you've kept it to yourself and never acted on it. And why do you think that is?"
    Ellen: "I don't know. I guess I thought if I just ignored it, it would go away, and I could just live a normal life."

    Ellen: "Do you think that I want to be discriminated against? Do you think I'd want people calling me names to my face?"

  5. Telling "Safe" Friends
    Ellen: "I sure wish I'd realized this when I was younger, it would have been easier."
    Peter: "Easier, right. It was a real delight being 'Homo-Pete' in junior high. Ellen, it's never easy."
    Ellen: "If that's the official gay welcome speech, you need a happier ending."

  6. Being Outed
    Peter: "For godsake, Ellen, tell them you're gay!"
    Ellen's bumbling confusion turns to shock.
    Peter: "... oops, Ellen ..."

  7. Coming Clean
    Paige: "Is that true?"
    Ellen: "Hmm? Oh, Oh that? Um uh well. It depends on what your definition of gay is, you know, because uh ... Yes. I'm gay."

  8. Born Again
    Ellen: "So even though this whole thing with Susan was kinda heartbreaking, I feel like this tremendous weight has been lifted off of me. I mean, for the first time in my life, I feel comfortable with myself."

The Reactions

Coming out to friends and family can bring a variety of reactions, and Ellen covered many of them. While most of friends in this episode took it well, later shows dealt with some of the more negative reactions. Unfortunately, for some people, the consequences of honesty are far more severe than they were for the fictional Ellen Morgan.

  1. The Supportive Gay Friend
    Peter: "You know what you need? A melon baller."
    Ellen: "I'm gay. So where would I find one of those melon ballers?"
    Peter: "Oh Ellen! At the grocery store! At the grocery store! I'm so proud of you!"

  2. The Initial Reaction
    Spence: "Wow."

  3. The Ultra-Supportive Straight Friend
    Who ever expected Audrey would become the Lesbian Authority and Poster Child?
    Audrey: "Well, I for one think it's ... super!"

  4. The Supportive Straight Guy
    Spence: "Ellen, I love you and respect whatever you do. And if you want to bring a woman home, I'm cool with that. Very cool."

  5. Are You Sure?
    Joe: "Ellen, I'm very happy for you."
    Ellen: "Oh, thank you Joe."
    Joe: "One thing, are you sure this is what you want?"

  6. The Ones Who Knew All Along
    Ellen: "Aren't you sweet. Yes, I am sure. Thank you."
    Joe: "Okay. Everybody pay up."

    Peter: "This is amazing. Barrett and I were just discussing this the other day."
    Ellen: "You discuss this with Barrett?"
    Peter: "Oh yeah."
    Ellen: "What, you were just sitting around sipping International Coffees and decided 'Let's discuss Ellen's sexuality?'"
    Peter: "Café Vienna. How'd you know?"

  7. Susan: "Wow. I thought you knew."
    Ellen: "Nope. Didn't know."
    Susan: "In fact, I thought you were gay too."
    Ellen: "You thought I was gay?"

  8. The Uncomfortable Same-Sex Best Friend
    Paige: "Yeah ... it's great. I mean, I, you know, I just love learning new things about my friends, and this is NEW."
    Ellen: "Okay, so you're okay with this?"
    Paige: "Of course I am. You know, it's funny, 'cause the other day, I was just saying that I don't have enough lesbian friends. And oh ... I saw Bound."

    Paige: "I still can't believe Ellen is gay."

For what's left, you'll just have to watch the episode to get the details, because I've typed quite enough.

And so it goes.
"Hello, Muddah, Hello, Faddah" - 5/7/97
"Moving On" - 5/14/97

Have I missed any? Drop me a line and let me know. I'll credit you if you want me to, or just add it to the list.

Season Five episodes are listed in Part II of the Clues List:
The Ellen Clues List - Part II

Back to Max's Ellen Page