|Also known as||These Friends of Mine|
|Theme music composer|
|Opening theme||"So Called Friend", performed by Texas (seasons 3-5)|
|Composer(s)||W. G. Snuffy Walden|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||5|
|No. of episodes||109|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Distributor||Buena Vista Television|
|Original release||March 29, 1994 -|
July 22, 1998
|Related shows||The Ellen Show (2001-2002)|
Ellen is an American television sitcom that aired on the ABC network from March 29, 1994, to July 22, 1998, consisting of 109 episodes. The title role is Ellen Morgan, played by stand-up comedian Ellen DeGeneres, a neurotic bookstore owner in her thirties. The title of the series was These Friends of Mine for the first season, but it was subsequently changed to avoid confusion with the NBC series Friends, which premiered in September 1994.
The series centered on Ellen's dealing with her quirky friends, her family, and the problems of daily life, set in Los Angeles. The series is notable for being one of the first in the US with a main character to come out as gay, which DeGeneres' character did in the 1997 episode "The Puppy Episode", which aired shortly after DeGeneres publicly revealed that she was gay in real life. This event received a great deal of media exposure, ignited controversy, and prompted ABC to place a parental advisory at the beginning of each episode.
The series' theme song (used in season 3 onwards) is a version of "So Called Friend" by Scottish band Texas with altered lyrics. A running gag during the third and fourth seasons was that each episode had a distinct/different opening credits sequence (often with singing and dancing), resulting from Ellen's ongoing search for the perfect opening credits.
In 1997, Ellen made television history when the title character came out as a lesbian in the famous "Puppy Episode" (DeGeneres herself came out concurrent with the episode on The Oprah Winfrey Show and in Time). To ensure a memorable moment, the coming out scene was made into a gag where, at an airport, Ellen turns and tells Laura Dern's character "I'm gay!" - only to realize that she had turned right into the public address microphone, announcing her sexuality to the entire terminal. Ellen DeGeneres's mother Betty can briefly be seen as one of the people in the terminal with a shocked reaction to the announcement.
The revelation ignited a storm of controversy, prompting ABC to place a parental advisory at the beginning of each episode.
Ellen was successful enough in its early seasons to warrant annual renewal, due largely to DeGeneres's perceived appeal and comic ability, but only with Ellen's coming out did the show make its way into the wide public consciousness and hit a critical plateau. After the initial coming out frenzy, however, the show's ratings declined, and ABC began feeling the pain of a backlash regarding the "gay content" being exhibited. The final episodes of Ellen were criticized for focusing too much on gay issues. Eventually, even some members of the LGBT community, including Chaz Bono (who at the time was the media director for GLAAD), began to criticize the show's serious new tone as well. ABC cancelled the show in May 1998 after five seasons.
Note: Between seasons one and two, there was not only a title change from These Friends of Mine to Ellen, but several characters disappeared without explanation.
|Season 1||Season 2||Season 3||Season 4||Season 5|
|Ellen Morgan||Ellen DeGeneres||Main|
|Joe Farrell||David Anthony Higgins||Main|
|Adam Green||Arye Gross||Main||Recurring||Does not appear|
|Holly||Holly Fulger||Main||Does not appear|
|Anita Warrell||Maggie Wheeler||Main||Does not appear|
|Paige Clarke||Joely Fisher||Does not appear||Main|
|Audrey Penney||Clea Lewis||Guest||Recurring||Main|
|Spence Kovak||Jeremy Piven||Does not appear||Main|
|Harold Morgan||Steven Gilborn||Recurring|
|Lois Morgan||Alice Hirson||Recurring|
|Peter Barnes||Patrick Bristow||Does not appear||Recurring|
|Barrett||Jack Plotnick||Does not appear||Recurring|
|Ed Billik||Bruce Campbell||Does not appear||Recurring||Does not appear|
|Laurie Manning||Lisa Darr||Does not appear||Recurring|
|Season||Episodes||Season Premiere||Season Finale||Ranking||Viewers|
|1||1993-94||13[a]||March 29, 1994||August 30, 1994||N/A||N/A|
|2||1994-95||24||September 21, 1994||May 17, 1995||#13||21.05|
|3||1995-96||25||September 13, 1995||May 21, 1996||#39||16.59|
|4||1996-97||25[a]||September 18, 1996||May 13, 1997||#30||16.79|
|5||1997-98||22||September 24, 1997||July 22, 1998||#42||12.4|
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Reruns of the show first started airing on Lifetime in the fall of 1998, and stopped in 2001. Starting October 4, 2003, during DeGeneres's surge in popularity through her role in Finding Nemo and her new daytime talk show, Lifetime began airing reruns again, on 1AM-2AM ET Sunday mornings, starting with the second season. Before long, it went into the 1:30AM-2AM ET time slot Monday-Friday. The reruns stopped two episodes into the controversial final season. Oxygen then picked up the entire series to air starting October 4, 2004, daily at midnight and noon ET, but it has since been removed from the schedule. In September 2013, Ellen began airing on FX Monday-Saturday from 9-11am.
Reruns of the show aired in the UK on ABC1 until the channel closed in September 2007. These were shown only on weekend mornings, along with other Touchstone Pictures productions. No other UK channels are currently airing the show.
In Australia episodes air on 111 HITS weekdays in a daytime timeslot. New Zealand is currently airing double episode reruns on TVNZ TV2 every Monday night.
In Canada, it is currently being aired by TVtropolis.
On October 11, 2017, the entire series was made available for streaming on Hulu as part of 'National Coming Out Day'. It has since been removed from the streaming service.
A&E Home Video has released the entire series on DVD in Region 1. These DVDs do not have captioning or subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired.
|DVD Name||Ep #||Release date|
|Season One||13||September 28, 2004|
|Season Two||24||February 22, 2005|
|Season Three||25||February 28, 2006|
|Season Four||25||September 26, 2006|
|Season Five||22||November 28, 2006|