Ellen Degenarrated: Breaking the Heteronormative Narrative Contract

  • Dirk Schulz


‘You’re about to watch adult content. Discretion is advised.’ This warning, accompanied by an extradiegetic voice-over, preceded several episodes of the final season of Ellen, a sitcom which until that point had been a mainstream international hit. How did one of the most successful American TV series get to the point of needing to overtly ‘warn’ its audience about its content? How did Ellen (DeGeneres) become so degenerated, or rather degenarrated? The recent popularity and growing number of gay and lesbian characters on television has led to the widespread assumption that the love that once dared not speak its name can now finally be narrated and celebrated on screen. However, if one looks at the narrative conventions by which the issue of homosexuality is presented, it becomes evident that this seeming liberation might be only a new strategic disguise for preventing and excluding the subversive potential of gender and sexual confusion, thereby affirming a heteronormative value system. To illustrate this, I will focus on a TV series that was accompanied by an enormous tabloid frenzy and public outcry, first and foremost in its country of origin, the United States.


Hotel Room Semantic Field Public Outcry Ellen DeGeneres Story World 
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© Dirk Schulz 2005

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  • Dirk Schulz

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