Twenty Years of Toasters

Twenty Years of Toasters

If you’ve wondered why the logo of this site is a toaster, it’s from a scene in the infamous coming out episode of Ellen, aka “The Puppy Episode.” The episode aired on Wednesday, April 30th, 1997.

In the episode, Ellen goes out to dinner with her old friend Richard, a reporter who is in town to cover a story. His producer, Susan, joins them for dessert and she and Ellen hit it off. Ellen goes back to Richard’s hotel room. He comes on to her and, uncomfortable, Ellen leaves. She runs into Susan in the hall and returns with her to her room. They continue to enjoy each other’s company until Susan tells Ellen that she’s gay and that she thought Ellen might be too. Ellen denies it and suggests that Susan is trying to “recruit” her. Susan sarcastically says that she’ll have to call “national headquarters” and let them know Ellen got away. (“Damn, just one more and I would have gotten that toaster oven.”) An agitated Ellen leaves Susan’s room and returns to Richard’s room, determined to have sex with him to prove to herself she is not gay.

The next day, Ellen tells her friends at the bookstore that she and Richard had amazing sex. She tells her therapist the truth, that she could not have sex with Richard. Ellen laments that she just wants someone that she clicks with. Her therapist asks if she has ever clicked with anyone and Ellen replies, “Susan.”

During the closing credits, Susan leads Ellen over to Melissa Etheridge, who confirms that Ellen is gay and, after completing the necessary paperwork, awards Susan a toaster oven.

Of course, Susan has a girlfriend, and it ends terribly for poor baby lesbian Ellen, but she’s gay and the world changed for all of us. Suddenly, there was a lesbian on television, and while the show was canceled for being “too gay” back in the late 1990s, it certainly did make a marked change in the number of lesbians we saw on TV.

Thank you, Ellen, for changing the world.

About Mika A. Epstein

Mika has been deep in fandom since she could say 'Trekkie.' With decades experience in running fansites, developing software, and organizing communities, she's taken on the challenge of delving into the recesses of television for queers long forgotten. Making this site with Tracy is nothing short of serendipity. Mika lives with her wife and their cats in Southern California. Of course she has a hybrid, but she'd rather ride her bicycle.
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