With Pride Month soon coming to a close, I thought it’d be a good time to pick something that flows within that theme.
The date was April 30, 1997. The show was Ellen (that’s Ellen, the ‘90’s sitcom) and the groundbreaking two-parter in which both the character Ellen Morgan, as well as the comedienne herself, came out to her viewing audience. The character struggles with the notion of doing so, but in the process it winds up being one of the funniest coming out moments ever on television.
A number of great guest stars appeared on this episode. They would include Laura Dern who played Ellen‘s love interest, Billy Bob Thornton who appears in her dream, Melissa Etheridge, k.d. lang, and Oprah Winfrey, who played her therapist. Not only was this two-parter well done, but the next several episodes that followed were done so as well. Some of which included “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah,” which dealt with Ellen coming out to her parents. “Moving On” focused on issues with her friend Paige’s handling of Ellen’s revelation as well as her boss, Ed.
There were problems like threats from advertisers and sadly some viewer backlash, and Laura Dern said that she couldn’t find work for a year after doing the episode. But in spite of that, the episode was the highest rated of the series and was a huge success. It has been noted that many people have watched the show and were inspired to come out to their own families afterwards. It’s interesting to see how things have evolved. The episodes and all the ones preceding it aired on ABC with lame parental warnings at the beginning of every episode. However 10 years later, the show was in reruns full-swing on Oxygen and it was rated TV-G.
The Ellen season 4 two-parter, “The Puppy Episode”, my online pick of the week!