The Ellen DeGeneres Show usually follows the same format: Celebrities appear to bouncy pop music, do some dancing with the crowd, participate in skits with Ellen, and play revealing games like “5 Second Rule.” This was no different when Cher was a guest on the show, and it seemed like she and Ellen had a great time together…until fans picked up on some not-so-subtle tension between the two. When Ellen put her on the spot, Cher had no choice but to speak her mind.
Cher isn’t exactly known for her timid ways. From her daring looks to her decade-defining music, there’s a reason the 74-year-old is still in the spotlight, and it goes beyond her legendary career. She’s known for being outspoken and blunt…two qualities that can get you in trouble on a talk show.
While Cher was maintaining her superstar status in the ‘80s, Ellen DeGeneres was still an up-and-comer. Her conversational comedic tone made her a likeable performer in the comedy world, and over the years, she has only encouraged this “likeable” persona.
Ending each episode of her talk show with the request that we all “be kind to one another,” it makes sense why so many people assumed that Ellen followed her own advice. After all, her show was filled with dancing, upbeat attitudes, and silly games — who could have a problem with that?
A lot of people, apparently. Though Ellen has a host of famous friends who are beloved in their own right — Jennifer Aniston, Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama, etc. — some celebs have been quite honest about their true feelings for the “nice” talk show host.
Kathy Griffin, for example, called her out for having “a mean streak” when Ellen didn’t acknowledge fellow comedian Joan Rivers’ death on her show. Even a squeaky-clean celeb like Taylor Swift had an awkward conversation with Ellen while she was a guest.
“This makes me feel so bad about myself!” Taylor once exclaimed when Ellen tried to get details on the singer’s romantic life. “Every time I come up here you put, like, a different dude up there on the screen.” Of course, this kind of awkwardness could always be merely a misunderstanding…
But Cher’s moment on Ellen was another story altogether. Considering all of the allegations that came out in 2020 from former Ellen staff members about the comedian’s not-so-nice ways, it makes sense why Cher’s time on the show is now being seen in a different light.
While promoting her film Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again and her ABBA-inspired album Dancing Queen in 2018, Cher stopped by the Ellen show. At first, everything was going great, and the duo even made a pre-recorded skit where they surprised people in a hair salon.
Though she and Cher were tasked with styling two women’s hair, it didn’t take long for the skit to go off the rails. In typical Ellen fashion, the talk show host immediately started to pester Cher with a blow dryer and spray bottle. For a few minutes, Cher took the silly teasing in stride.
But Cher clearly didn’t want to mess up the hair she was styling, which made all of Ellen’s teasing a little irritating after a while. Still, the singer laughed and joined in on the conversation, even when Ellen’s questions started to get incredibly personal.
“Cher, have you slept with a girl?” Ellen asked. Despite the personal nature of the question, Cher responded. “No,” she said, adding, “I flirted. Does that count?” It only got more awkward from there, especially when Ellen asked Cher if she’d do her a favor.
“No,” was Cher’s blunt response. Even so, Ellen persisted, and when she asked if Cher trusted her, the singer had another blunt reply: “I don’t.” When Cher asked for a comb and Ellen gave her a fork instead, Cher had yet another curt response, albeit one that made Ellen laugh: “You’re an idiot.”
And later, as Ellen donned a very ’80s-style black wig, did an exaggerated impression of Cher’s singing voice, and poked fun at the lyrics of Cher’s song If I Could Turn Back Time, Cher had just one response to the teasing: “Oh, you’re such a b****!”
Everybody laughed, but fans can’t help but think that there may have been genuine annoyance behind Cher’s responses. Later, when Ellen asked Cher if they were best friends, Cher simply answered by saying, “No, we’re not” — repeatedly.
Still, the duo had a good-natured blow dryer and water spritzer fight, so it’s possible that the skit was just that — a fake skit. Even so, no one could deny the tension between the two celebrities when they competed against each other on Ellen’s show in front of the live audience.
Awkward silences and expletives filled the room when Ellen and Cher played a game called “5 Second Rule,” where each player had to give three answers to a question in a span of five seconds. It was awkward from the start, but things came to a head in the final round.
A miscommunication led to Cher saying that chocolate “gets her in the mood,” and though she immediately wanted to backtrack her answer, Ellen refused. After a few tense seconds of Cher denying it and Ellen persisting, Cher responded with a now-familiar insult.
“I didn’t mean it in that way, b****!” she said, prompting laughs from the audience but only an “all right” from the comedian herself. It may have all seemed like gentle teasing between the two, but other people watching the incident on YouTube picked up on the tension.
“Ellen hated every second of that,” one viewer commented, and another wrote how “that was the weirdest, most passive-aggressive, uncomfortable to watch segment that I have ever seen on Ellen.” Other people had different opinions, however.
“Why’s everyone saying that there was tension?” one person wrote. “I didn’t get that at all.” Someone else responded, “I thought this was hilarious…they were both having fun!” Cher and Ellen may have shared some awkward moments, but that may not be the case all the time.
Cher has been on Ellen’s show multiple times, and many of their interactions seem as friendly and good-natured as if they truly were best friends. But with the recent allegations accusing Ellen of being a secretly mean-spirited person, the story may be a lot more complicated than it seems.
Trouble for Ellen started early in 2020. While she received backlash for defending Kevin Hart and sitting next to former President George W. Bush at a football game, it wasn’t until someone called out Ellen’s attitude on set that people realized there was more to the story.
Beauty YouTuber Nikkie de Jager, otherwise known as NikkieTutorials, spoke up about her awkward interactions with Ellen when she appeared as a guest on her show. Much to Nikkie’s surprise, the host wasn’t friendly, but “cold and distant.”
The next charge against DeGeneres came in the form of a viral Twitter thread. Comedian Kevin Porter tweeted out a call for “insane stories you’ve heard about Ellen being mean”, and boy did it deliver.
In next to no time there were over 2,000 replies. Everyone from former employees to customer service workers all detailed their negative experiences with Ellen. None of the accounts are verifiable, but the long list of transgressions are far from the kind persona you see on screen.
It wasn’t all gossip and rumor. Variety reported anonymous accounts from The Ellen DeGeneres Show stage crew about their employer’s lack of information and poor response to the coronavirus pandemic. Eventually, after months of bad press, WarnerMedia launched an investigation.
In the wake of the calls to cancel Ellen’s show, many of her loyal friends spoke up in her defense. Katy Perry tweeted out her support, “I think we all have witnessed the light & continual fight for equality that she has brought to the world through her platform for decades.”
Videos resurfaced of DeGeneres poking fun at Sofia Vergara’s Colombian accent, but the actress didn’t agree with the negative characterizations. She retweeted one of the videos, adding, “Two comedians having fun with each other to entertain. I was never a victim guys, I was always in on the joke.”
Friend and neighbor Ashton Kutcher added his take to the discussion, saying that Ellen, “never pandered to celebrity which I always saw as a refreshing honesty.” This was a direct contradiction to the claim that Ellen reserves her good manners for famous people.
Frequent guest of the show, Diane Keaton, chimed in on Instagram, saying, “I always enjoy my visits…I’ve seen how the audience exudes happiness and gratitude. She gives back to so many, including me.”
The former Tonight Show host came out in full support of Ellen on Twitter, saying, “I don’t discard a 40-year friendship on hearsay.” He highlighted DeGeneres’ charitable work and kindness in her defense.
Many celebrities who are notoriously close with Degeneres, like Justin Timberlake, Jennifer Aniston, and Lady Gaga, failed to comment on the issues unraveling at The Ellen Show. Though, not all of Hollywood counts the comedian as their friends.
Number one on Ellen’s feud list is the daring D-list comedian. Griffin said it herself — she’s not Ellen’s “cup of tea.” It all started when Ellen regretfully informed Kathy that she refused to do a tribute to the late Joan Rivers because she saw her humor as “mean.”
This led an angry Kathy to impulsively call Ellen an “untalented hack.” After the heated comic cat fight, a simmered-down Kathy texted Ellen to discuss the argument, which only resulted in cricket chirps.
Everybody Loves Raymond actor Brad Garrett might not return to the show after he Tweeted that DeGeneres’ negative reputation was “common knowledge.” In regards to the issues at the show, he said accountability should start at the top.
Olympic gold medal-winning decathlete Caitlyn Jenner was welcomed on Ellen’s show with open arms shortly after she came out as transgender in April of 2015. When a conversation about Caitlyn’s teeter tottering stance on gay marriage became rocky, things got awkward.
In an interview with Howard Stern, Ellen discussed Caitlyn’s hesitation to label gay marriage as marriage, calling it “confusing.” Later, in her memoir, Jenner claimed that the disagreement led to her alienation from the LGBTQ community.
After the trailer for Vaughn’s movie The Dilemma dropped, in which his character makes jokes homosexual jokes, Ellen wasn’t impressed. He wasn’t welcomed back to her show for at least a few years.
He and Ellen have an ongoing Twitter feud… though we’re not sure if Ellen is aware of it. When Morgan blasted her for “drooling over famous men’s bodies” during a bit for her talk show on 2018’s International Men’s Day, no one was buying it.
Andy Richter replied to fellow comedian Ashley Nicole Black’s tweets about toxic workplace at The Ellen Show, pointing to the hypocrisy, “Although there’s toxicity tolerated by higher-ups in every industry, but few of those workplaces are controlled by a manager who’s entire brand is being ‘nice.'”
Ellen understands that hosting a popular talk show can earn you both friends an enemies, a sentiment shared by her good friend, Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon. Over the years, he’s earned some serious critics, too.