A fun fact for those who may not know: Ellen DeGeneres started off as a stand-up comedian — and she’s making a return to her roots. Primarily known now for her talk show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show (and, to Disneyphiles like me, for her voice role as Dory in Finding Nemo and its sequel), DeGeneres has danced, deadpanned, and De-Generously (sorry) donated her way into fans' hearts for the last 15 years. So when does Ellen DeGeneres’ Netflix special air?
Login to the streaming service on Dec. 18, and you can watch the comedian take on the crowd in a way she hasn’t done in a long time. Ellen DeGeneres: Relatable is DeGeneres’ first stand-up special since Ellen DeGeneres: Here and Now in 2003 — the same year her now-immensely popular talk show began airing. That’s not to say that she hasn’t exercised those skills in the years since: She has hosted both the Emmys and the Academy Awards, as well as her own TV specials. But stand-up is a bit of a different beast, and she’s breaking out of her usual mold a bit with Relatable.
The title comes from a question a friend asked her when she told him that she was going to do stand-up again. The question of whether or not anyone can relate to her now that she’s a household name with substantial wealth is a valid one, but Ellen plays it off nicely, as seen in the trailer.
DeGeneres’ extreme kindness has become a major part of her public persona, as she addresses in the special. She gives guests massive checks to help with whatever they’re struggling with, and she’s been known to pull an Oprah and spoil her audience from time to time. But this comes at price: DeGeneres only sort of jokes that she “can never do anything unkind, ever,” because that definitely doesn’t fit with the idea most have of her.
Despite how well she’s doing now, things haven’t always been easy for DeGeneres. She reminds the audience of her sitcom, The Ellen Show, where she played Ellen Morgan, a bookstore owner. When DeGeneres came out of the closet in 1997, her character followed suit, and the series was canceled not long after. As she says in the special, she didn’t get another shot at a sitcom for three years, when the short-lived The Ellen Show was picked up by CBS. Of course, if that hadn’t been canceled, she wouldn’t have been available to begin her successful talk-show host career.
It’s possible that Relatable is marking a new chapter in her life. In an interview with The New York Times promoting the special, DeGeneres said she’s considering ending her talk show after her current contract expires in 2020. It’s understandable that she would want to move on — the sheer amount of time the show takes up in her life must be draining. So if you enjoy Relatable and the other side of DeGeneres that it show, there may be more where that came from in the future.
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