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Rosie O’Donnell Defends Ellen -- And Blames Her Bad Reputation On Fame & 'Social Awkwardness'

rosie o'donnell ellen degeneres awkward

We’ve heard quite a few interesting excuses from Ellen DeGeneres‘ Celebrity Defense Squad, but “she’s socially awkward” is a new one!

In fairness, this defense comes from the one person who is uniquely qualified to understand Ellen’s predicament: Rosie O’Donnell, who hosted her own popular talk show from 1996 – 2002 (famously followed by a couple brief stints on The View). Rosie was a guest on Busy Philipps’s new podcast Busy Philipps Is Doing Her Best, and briefly weighed in on the scandal currently surrounding Ellen’s show. 

Related: Ellen Will ‘Talk To Fans’ Upon Return To Talk Show

The 58-year-old noted she’s known Ellen for many years and has her “own kind of history with her,” humorously sharing why she’s never been on the show. She explained: 

“You know how Ellen surprises everyone? I’ve never done that show because I’m terrified she’s going to scare me and give me a heart attack.”

Touching on the scandal itself, in which Ellen’s employees have described her as secretly mean — even nicknaming her “Talk Show Karen,” Rosie said:

“You can’t fake your essence. That’s why I have compassion for Ellen, right? I have compassion, even though, you know, I hear the stories and I understand. I think she has some social awkwardness.”

Social awkwardness??

One of the most prominent accusations about the comedienne was that staffers and other non-celebs were warned not to look her in the eye. Rosie’s explanation would seem to suggest this was the result of being awkward rather than a better-than-you, tyrannical boss attitude (which is how it came across, honestly). Not gonna lie, we find this reasoning a bit hard to believe.

After all, we’ve also been hearing stories of laughing at her producers screaming at employees, getting random service industry workers fired on a whim, and just generally saying mean things to people. That’s not shyness.

More interesting was the A League of Their Own star’s reflection on the psychology of hosting a popular talk show. She offered: 

“[Hosting] wasn’t like anything close to real life. You know, you get mass adulation from the multitudes every day like a shot of heroin in your arm. You get people clapping at your very existence and then telling you how you altered their life, and it’s a lot to take in. And when I stepped away, I knew that this was all I could take.”

Maybe this gets more to the heart of the issue than simple social awkwardness. Even the most grounded, down to earth person would suffer from inflated ego if they were nearly universally beloved by audiences, a required stop for any A-list celeb’s press tour, casually hanging out with pop stars and presidents — and making millions to boot. That kind of experience might warp anyone’s perspective, making it hard to relate to the “little people” who work underneath you.

Even if it’s the cause, that’s not remotely an excuse for bad behavior. Plenty of stars are in that position and are still incredibly kind and down to earth. For instance Drew Carey and Alex Trebek are well known for chatting to the audience in between takes.

Related: Michelle Obama Recalls Experiences With Racism As First Lady

The other parallels between Rosie and Ellen are very interesting: both pioneering lesbian comics who adopted relentlessly positive personas for their daytime talk shows. You may not recall this as no one really thinks of her this way anymore, but Rosie used to be known as the “Queen of Nice” — for real! Look it up!

Both of their nice-girl reputations soured during their later television tenures, partially based on behind-the-scenes drama. There were some pretty serious accusations of cruelty lobbed at Rosie in her day, too! (Infamously in a 2003 lawsuit, a former employee of her magazine, who was also a cancer survivor, claimed Rosie had called her a liar — and told her cancer had been her punishment for lying. Ick.)

So the question is, is Rosie defending Ellen here? Or herself??

[Image via WENN/Instar]

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Aug 28, 2020 06:14am PDT