Revisiting Ally McBeal – 13 years later

I’ve started watching Ally McBeal all over again. Yep, remember David E. Kelley’s Fox series from 1997 about a young, female attorney with relationship issues up the wazoo who worked at a quirky law firm with her ex-love, his new wife, a unisex bathroom, and no shortage of dancing baby hallucinations? The show featured humorous and eccentric characters played by Calista Flockhart, Courtney Thorne Smith, Lisa Nicole Carson, Jane Krakowski, Portia de Rossi, Lucy Liu, Regina Hall, Greg Germann, Peter MacNicol, Robert Downey Jr., and Gil Bellows.

Have no clue what the show is about? Check out this storyline summary from IMDB:

Ally McBeal and Billy Thomas were going steady throughout their childhoods. Ally even followed Billy to Harvard law school despite having no interest in law. But when Billy chose to pursue a career in law away from Ally, their relationship came to an end. In the present, an old classmate of Ally’s named Richard Fish gives Ally a job at his law firm, where Billy and his new wife are also working. This puts Ally in a predicament since she still has feelings for Billy which she’s laboring to get over. At the office, Ally puts up with a nosy, gossiping secretary named Elaine, and an oddball lawyer named John Cage never seems to lose a case. At home, Ally’s friend and house-mate Renée regularly advises her on her love life. The series follows Ally’s trials and tribulations in life through her eyes, and caricaturizes her personal thoughts and fantasies.

I started watching Ally McBeal again because all of my shows are off for the winter break and there was nothing else on, but also because I could remember that I liked the show but not quite why I did. When Ally McBeal debuted, I was just starting 11th grade. The show saw its end when I was finishing my junior year of college. I probably watched more when I was in high school, for the first 2-3 seasons, which makes me wonder why this show resonated with me at all – I don’t think I was in the target demographic.

So I’m watching the legal comedy-drama again with new eyes. Now, I’m practically a lawyer myself, young (probably around the same age as Ally or not too far off) living in a major US city, working, navigating relationships, and trying to figure out what’s next in life. It’s definitely a different viewing experience and when I finish all five seasons, I’ll come back and update here. A lot of criticism was lobbed at the show because McBeal came off as an anti-feminist heroine of sorts. So yeah, I’ll get into that as well. Coming back with more Ally McB and crew soon…