In 1997, television was a different place. NBC dominated the ratings game, especially with shows Friends, Seinfeld, Frasier and ER in their early runs (though it was late in Seinfeld‘s run). But also in 1997, Ellen Degeneres came out as a lesbian, and her on-screen persona, Ellen Morgan, on ABC comedy, Ellen, also came out in a memorable episode entitled “The Puppy Episode,” which first aired on Apr. 30, 1997.
And now, according to The Hollywood Reporter, those who were involved the episode will be reuniting on Degeneres’ talk show, The Ellen Degeneres Show, on Friday, Apr. 28 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the milestone episode airing.
The full 60-minute episode will feature the members of the cast in addition to video-taped segments by other celebrities and regular people who talk about how the episode affected their lives. The episode will also be the first reunion between the cast members of “The Puppy Episode,” including Laura Dern. Joely Fisher, Clea Lewis and David Anthony Higgins. Even Oprah, who played herself in the episode, will be taking part in the cast reunion.
Ellen first aired on ABC starting on March 29, 1994 and ran through July 22, 1998. “The Puppy Episode” was the highest rated episode of the show’s run and was watched by 42 million people. The episode won two Emmy awards, one for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series and the other for Outstanding Multi-Camera Picture Editing.
While the episode was praised, subsequent episodes garnered criticism for focusing too much on the fact that Degeneres’ character was gay and was also criticized for ABC airing a parental advisory at the beginning of the subsequent fifth season episodes. However, many cite the episode as the reason shows like Will & Grace and The L Word were able to be a part of television history.
The Ellen reunion will air on Friday, Apr. 28 on The Ellen Degeneres Show.