Ellen Morgan is a neurotic bookstore owner who deals with life through comedy and extensive rambling.
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Nominated for 4 Golden Globes. Another 14 wins & 29 nominations. See more awards »





Complete series cast summary:
Ellen DeGeneres ...  Ellen Morgan 108 episodes, 1994-1998
David Anthony Higgins ...  Joe Farrell 101 episodes, 1994-1998
Joely Fisher ...  Paige Clark 95 episodes, 1994-1998
Clea Lewis ...  Audrey Penney 79 episodes, 1994-1998
Jeremy Piven ...  Spence Kovak 71 episodes, 1995-1998


Ellen Morgan (Ellen DeGeneres) is a neurotic, thirty-something, bookstore employee who tries to get by life in dealing with her various friends who include the outgoing redhead Paige Clark (Joely Fisher), insecure photographer Adam Green (Arye Gross), her unsure-of-himself cousin Spence Novak (Jeremy Piven), coffee shop guy Joe Farrell (David Anthony Higgins), the critical and obnoxious Audrey Penney (Clea Lewis), and most challenging of all, Ellen also has to contend being around her annoying and overbearing parents Lois (Alice Hirson) and Harold (Steve Gilborn).

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Romance


TV-PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Another era sitcom which also stole from Ellen was The Nanny (1993), such as the title where Fran sees her therapist in a compromising position with The Nanny: The Nose Knows (1997): it was the exact same premise as Ellen: Looking Out for Number One (1996). Then again, The Nanny copied many other sitcoms, mainly Who's the Boss?: Two on a Billboard (1987) which would later be copied by Cybill: All of Me (1997) in a merry-go-round pattern, seemingly going full circle around the whole "who copied whom" affair. See more »


Margaret: Ellen, Ellen, where are you?
Ellen: [walks out of a coat closet] Here, I was in the closet.
Margaret: It's big isn't it?
Ellen: Yeah, but I wouldn't want to spend a lot of time in there, entertaining or anything.
See more »


Referenced in Saturday Night Live: John Goodman/Jewel (1997) See more »


Theme Song
Written by Sharleen Spiteri and Johnny McElhone
Performed by Texas
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User Reviews

a highlight of television comedy -- until the final season
15 December 1999 | by steve.schonbergerSee all my reviews

During most of its run, "Ellen" was set in a book store owned by the title character, and it was one of the funniest situation comedies to be produced for U.S. television. It had a variety of regular characters, each a well developed mix of comedy stereotype traits and realistic individual traits. The varied cast provided lots of opportunities for comedy plot twists.

Ellen's personal gift was humorously portraying the moments of mild embarrassment everyone experiences -- much of comedy is based on embarrassment, after all. But Ellen didn't stop with mild embarrassment. Instead of keeping quiet and hoping no one would notice her blunders, or hoping they'd forget, she tried to talk her way out of them. Of course, she was hopelessly inept at talking herself out of an embarrassing situation, and escalated each mild blush scene into a personal disaster for her, and hilarious comedy for viewers.

The show, to me, most resembled the old Lucille Ball comedies. But I had a hard time identifying with Lucy's setting in the distant past, which exists only in black and white television and the nostalgia-clouded memories of people older than I am. Ellen, by contrast, was set in a familiar approximation of the modern world, which is funnier to me because it's a world I understand.

In its final season, the show changed its focus from comedy to civil rights. It started out almost as funny as before, but the civil rights message quickly crowded out the comedy. I applaud her political message, but by neglecting the comedy Ellen DeGeneres effectively cancelled her own show, and any chance she had of using it as a political soapbox. I and others watched the show because it was funny, and in the final season in the hopes that it would become funny again. I didn't want to watch her pitch a civil rights message I had accepted years earlier.

Perhaps it's difficult to deliver a message, while still entertaining, but it can be done. Most "Home Improvement" episodes contain a family moral of some sort, but never at the expense of the humor. Giving a choice between presenting a moral and making people laugh, "Home Improvement" went for the laugh, although it didn't go for the laughs to the point of presenting (for lack of a better term) an anti-moral. Given the same choice, "Ellen" usually chose the civil rights moral instead, and the comedy lost. It's possible to make a comedy with a gay star and lead character, and deliver Ellen's civil rights position, but comedy has to come first for the show to succeed.

One exception to the badness of the final season was the farewell episode. It set aside the efforts to deliver a civil rights message, and tried to be funny again. It demonstrated that Ellen had not lost her comedic gift, but had instead set it aside in favor of her political interests.

A now-moot question to ABC: Why were there viewer discretion notices before the show? It had less adult content (sexual or other) than almost any other shows then on television. The only shows of that time period I knew of with less adult content were "Simpsons", "King of the Hill", and "Home Improvement". Occasional scenes of women kissing women don't need a viewer discretion warning. Or if they do, almost all of ABC's surviving series need even stronger warnings.

While ABC deserves mockery for its stupid viewer discretion warnings, it deserves no blame for cancelling the show -- it had become a low-rated, unfunny comedy, for which Ellen DeGeneres deserves most of the blame. Still, before the final season, "Ellen" was comedy genius.

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Release Date:

29 March 1994 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

These Friends of Mine See more »

Filming Locations:

Burbank, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


(109 episodes)

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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