Pop Culture Fix: Ellen DeGeneres Is Ready To Not Make Nice and Other Stories

Welcome to your weekly pop culture fix, coming in a little late today from me, a person who slept two hours last night!!!

+ Ellen DeGeneres Is Not as Nice as You Think: Ellen is getting a little worn out about having to be nice and dancing all the time. This headline surprised me because in Los Angeles people are always talking about how Ellen is not as nice as you think and telling stories that generally inspire me to plug my ears and leave the room. I just don’t believe it! But that’s not what this piece is about, it turns out! It’s about Ellen being tired of being the character she has created for her talk show, and apparently Portia thinks she should quit.

At a transitional moment in her remarkable career, DeGeneres agreed to sit for a rare series of interviews over two days. As much as anyone possibly could, she has taken on Oprah Winfrey’s mantle as the queen of inspirational daytime talk, providing an oasis of positivity and escapist comedy in a culture short on both. But with DeGeneres’s status as a sunny stalwart come certain burdens and constrictions, like the expectation to dance, which she finally stopped doing on her show two years ago, after some agonizing over how her audience would react.

+ The Screen Actors Guild Award nominations were announced and two lesbian films are up for big prizes: Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role,Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role) and The Favourite (Best Ensemble, Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role, Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role). Queer-women-inclusive television nominations include G.L.O.W., The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, The Handmaid’s Tale and Killing Eve.

+ Selena Scripted Series a Go at Netflix!

+ In which we met Lesbian Batwoman: DCTV SuperFlarrow “Elseworlds, Part 1″ Recap: Batwoman Begins, DCTV SuperFlarrow “Elseworlds, Part 2″ Recap: Batwoman Returns and DCTV SuperFlarrow “Elseworlds, Part 3″ Recap: Twisted Sister.

+ Will & Grace Books Samira Wiley for Guest Arc: Wiley will be in three episodes when the show returns in 2019! I hope she’s gonna be gay.

Netflix’s Carmen Sandiego Reboot Gets January Premiere Date

+ Netflix Reveals Its Most-Watched Shows of 2018: I am sad that billions of people watched the incredibly fucked up second season of the incredibly fucked up TV show 13 Reasons Why. But also, a lot of people saw The Haunting of Hill House!

Emmerdale star Michelle Hardwick gets engaged to producer girlfriend Kate Brooks

+ ‘Tangerine’ Is the LGBTQ Christmas Movie We Need

+ Gender-Fluid Star Nico Tortorella Said Awards Shows Should Nominate Actors In A Single Category: I do honestly wonder what the solution here is! I’m not sure that there is one.

+ 8 best LGBT video game characters of 2018

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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3228 articles for us.


  1. I’m so old I remember when all those “Ellen’s not so nice” articles featured Rosie O’Donnell AKA Queen of Nice.

  2. My sister’s friend use to live on the same block as Ellen and Portia and said they were good neighbors until they decided they wanted to buy the 5 other houses on the block(it was a cul-de-sac) and became ruthless trying to kick the neighbors out, most of which were West Asians families. That’s the only Ellen is not nice story I have really heard.

  3. oooh the 8 best lgbt video game characters is exactly the kind of content I need in my life, ty!

    The awards category is a tricky dilemma, tbh. If we stop separating them by gender, will it just be (white) men who win them time and time again, like it is with nearly all the behind the scenes awards? How do nonbinary people fit into that? We shouldn’t have to force ourselves into binary boxes to have our achievements recognised.

  4. Hot take: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel shouldn’t get credit for including a gay/queer character if the writers refuse to acknowledge her gayness/queerness.

    • What I wrote today on Reddit about this topic:

      I love this show so much, and I’m waiting to binge season 2 until after finals are over, so hopefully what I’m about to complain about might get fixed in the future, BUT…

      It kind of pisses me off that Susie is clearly coded as gay (I don’t think I really need to enumerate all the evidence for this particular audience) and, specifically, butch, and living in the 1960s, and yet this aspect of her life is never addressed. There are off hand jokes (Joel complimenting her blouse and Susie telling him he’s “barking up the wrong tree,” a cabaret dancer calling Susie Midge’s “boyfriend,” etc.) and Susie once says she’s resigned herself to the fact that she’ll be alone forever. But we never get anything deeper than that. Midge muses on her role as a woman performing femininity in this society, her inadequacy as a mother, her desire to become a truer version of herself. Susie, aside from a brief discussion of her terrible family, never opens up. It would be so easy to show the difficulties of a butch woman existing in heteronormative spaces. Doing so wouldn’t have to be preachy (although this show certainly doesn’t shy away from feminist messages), but I find it kind of surprising that no one ever gives her shit for being such an obvious lesbian at a time when that was still classified as a mental disorder.

      Maybe I’m projecting my perceptions of mid century American culture as homophobic into this show. Maybe I’ve watched Carol too many times. But all I know is that it gets under my skin that Amy Sherman Palladino is using a butch lesbian-coded character as a source of brilliant comedy without giving her the courtesy of exploring the full extent of how her identity would shape her experience of life in the early 1960s.

      • 2/2 because I have a LOT of feelings about this:

        I’m not saying that Susie should be out there declaring her sexuality or bringing extra attention to herself, because obviously that would turn real dark, real fast. It’s just that she’s inherently noticeable the way she is right now. For all the joking they do, she clearly isn’t a dude, and I guess it just seems weird to me that when ventures out of her bubble and heads uptown there’s not more of a reaction. Midge is poised as the iconoclast who’s disrupting social norms by splitting from her husband and doing comedy, while Susie is rejecting femininity and heteronormativity on just about every level. I wish we could get a moment of her expressing her life experience and how she finds the courage to present herself the way she does in such a restrictive era. Considering how often she serves as Midge’s cheerleader, it would make sense for her to relate her own story of not fitting in and celebrating her divergence from the norm. It doesn’t even need to be a plot line, and I certainly wouldn’t want to sacrifice tone and humor in order to prove a point about society. It just continues to baffle me that they never even hint at what Susie’s existence in 1950s-1960s might be like outside of her relationship with Midge and her career. It feels like the show runners are trying to have their cake and eat it, too, by including a butch/lesbian coded character but not addressing what that might mean in the context of the time period they’ve chosen as their setting. (Also, Amy Sherman Palladino doesn’t have a great record when it comes to social issues and lgbtq+ rep in general, so I’m naturally distrusting of her)

        • This is exactly right. It’s not that I want harsh reality for Susie, as no one else in this candy-colored has to deal with that, and I get tired of period shows that are cheerfully unrealistic for everyone but the LGBT characters. But it’s really frigging odd that absolutely no one in-show comments on it, except that running joke about people thinking Susie is a man that gets less funny with each usage. Susie comes from a very specific context and so many things – her clothes, her demeanor, her apartment – reflects that context perfectly. So why doesn’t the writing?

    • Yeah. I understand their reasoning and I think the current system is far from perfect, but I fear that collapsing the two categories into one would result in only cis men ever winning the awards.

      • Take the Oscars for instance. Oscars voters are 91% white and 76% male
        Gee, I wonder who they’re gonna see as being worthy of awards and who they will think should just be happy to be nominated…

  5. I’ve also heard some “Ellen’s not so nice” stories but they really weren’t bad. Like, if a man had done the same thing people wouldn’t even be thinking about it twice

  6. Our community owes a great deal to Ellen
    She sacrificed her career and in the process made homosexuality understandable, relatable and acceptable for a massive number of people that otherwise would probably not have any contact with gays. She has enlightened so many people and benefitted so many families..
    Ellen is the true Lesbian Jesus

    • You know, everyone asks Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego but no one ever asks How in the World is Carmen Sandiego…

  7. Riese, you changed you avatar! There go my chances of ever working out what you were doing in the old one.

    • yeah it was kind of like a magic eye photo. for the first year i thought it was a side-profile of a person’s face (presumably riese’s) who had short dark hair and was wearing a baseball cap–a julie goldman lookalike. when i saw a bigger picture of riese i was like, who tf is that? but then the avatar clicked into place in my brain, and julie goldman was gone.

    • yes i decided to be a real person with a face!

      but what i was doing was standing in front of a window, holding onto piping that was against the wall. as a+ members i imagine you recall a recent essay i wrote for a+ which detailed my former employment — on the website they’d post pics of us but our faces always had to be obscured, so we did our staff pics in front of a window where the lighting was such that our faces were in the shadows.

      anyway here you go:

  8. I hear the new season of Ms. Maisel is a mess, and thus far I’ve only seen one episode, but i WOULD like to say that there is a scene where Susie answers the phone as she’s getting out of bed and isn’t wearing a bra and her t-shirt is so wonky, and it is SO EFFING RARE to see people with normal, varied bodies on tv without a shitload of boob management. As a person who wore bras to bed for YEARS because of big boob shame, I just really appreciated that moment!

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