Fans are now re-examining an awkward 2017 interview between Ellen DeGeneres and Jessica Simpson as allegations of a "toxic workplace" on The Ellen DeGeneres Show grow. Former employees have accused DeGeneres of facilitating a workplace where racism, sexual harassment and simple mean-spirited behavior flourished, causing some viewers to look at the host in a new light. Now, many are turning their attention to an infamous encounter between DeGeneres and Simpson.
Back in May of 2017, Simpson appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show for an interview that put many viewers on edge. The singer seemed flustered and out of sorts, stumbling over her words and misremembering simple facts about her own life. Some feared that Simpson was under the influence of drugs or alcohol during the interview, which Simpson later confirmed. Regardless, many thought that DeGeneres could have handled the encounter more kindly.
In the interview, Simpson could not remember how long she had been married, and seemed uncertain about her previous visits to the show. She told several incoherent stories that went nowhere, leading DeGeneres to end the interview by look at the audience and sighing with exasperation. Simpson appeared hurt by the gesture.
That interview perplexed fans right up until January of 2020, when Simpson admitted that she was drunk during that 2017 appearance. In an interview on The Today Show, she told Hoda Kotb that her spiral into drug and alcohol use was related to the childhood trauma described in her new book.
"I can't even watch the interview," Simpson said. "I just can't. It was a weak moment for me, and I wasn't in the right place. I had started a spiral and I couldn't catch up with myself. And that was with alcohol."
In her autobiography, Open Book, Simpson revealed that she had been sexually abused for many years, starting at the age of six. She said that drugs and alcohol were an unhealthy means for her to cope, but that she finally acknowledged that these habits were "killing her." She quit drinking in 2017, the same year as her infamous interview with DeGeneres.
Taking this into account, many fans see Ellen as something of a bully when re-watching that interview now, wondering why the host known for her catch phrase "be kind" poked fun at Simpson. Sources at the show told BuzzFeed News that DeGeneres uses that mantra as a "mask" to hide behind.