What DOES the return of Ally McBeal say about women's lives today? (2022)

Rarely do I provoke someone to the extent that they answer back on the cover of a glossy magazine.

Yet, at the tail end of the 1990s, I did exactly that, prompting the biggest (and smallest) star of the day into expressly telling me in huge letters: 'I'm thin, so what?'

I had been wailing in print — in my own magazine, Marie Claire, and in this newspaper — that Calista Flockhart, the star of Ally McBeal, was a danger to women's health.

She was the kind of Hollywood thin that rendered her features too big for her face, her skull too large for her tiny body, clad as it ubiquitously was in a pelmet skirt that revealed her kidneys.

Ally was the anti-Bridget Jones. While Bridget was healthy, self-deprecating, sweet, funny, clever and a loyal friend, Ally was a she-devil who would trample any woman who got in the way of her catching the bridal bouquet.

Unlovable heroine: Calista Flockhart as Ally McBeal

She would also, pathetically, collapse in a puddle on the floor if she found an alpha male attractive.

She was ditsy, she was shallow, she was emotionally unstable (I lost count of the catfights) and she seemed to know nothing about law, despite the degree and the job with Boston firm Cage & Fish.

In short, she was just intensely annoying.

The show was steeped in fantasy, with bizarre visual effects hammering home to the viewers Ally's inner emotions. Annoyed by a man, she throws him out of the window. Offended by a colleague's pregnancy, a missile blasts a hole through that non-existent tummy. We're not dim as well, we get it!

She was a simpering, flirtatious, skinny, hysterical cartoon, as far from being a role model for professional women as could be.

Maybe that's why men fancied her. Indecisive, insecure, naive; Ally was quite literally the little woman any man could boss around.

Which is the reason Time magazine put her doll-like face on its cover in 1998, alongside cut-outs of Susan B. Anthony, Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem, with the line: 'Is feminism dead?'

She was ditsy, she was shallow, she was emotionally unstable (I lost count of the catfights) and she seemed to know nothing about law, despite the degree and the job with Boston firm Cage & Fish

(Video) Barry White Dance (Ally McBeal 2x12)

During that time, I was campaigning with the government for magazines and the media in general to stop celebrating extreme thinness. ELLE retaliated with Calista Flockhart on the cover, saying, 'I'm thin, so what?' A big, fat middle finger to me.

Later, in 2001, I put Renee Zellweger as Bridget on the cover of Marie Claire, applauding the fact that at last we were able to glimpse a woman with cellulite on the big screen.

Now, with news of an Ally McBeal reboot in the works, it looks as though irritating Ally and the annoying Dancing Baby — another computer-generated special effect that appeared whenever she contemplated her biological clock — are back.

Oh no. Oh, God, no. Do we really need a man-chasing, office-bound, superannuated stick insect whose main achievement is to still be the same dress size? Do we need men who remain squabbling, vain boys and refuse to grow up? Do we?

More to the point, have the producers realised that in resurrecting Ally McBeal, they will be relaunching the least woke show in the world at a time when you can land yourself in hot water simply by trying to define what is a woman?

No doubt the snowflake generation will nod their self-obsessed heads at Ally's constant whingeing, but the script will have to be heavily updated to reflect the modern woes of young professionals today — not being able to 'WFH' is an infringement of my human rights, for example.

And yet, at first glance, Ally McBeal did seem presciently diverse, especially when compared with Sex And The City and Friends, which were contemporaneous on our screens (Ally McBeal ran from 1997 to 2002).

Asian actress Lucy Liu had a starring role, as did black actresses Lisa Nicole Carson and Regina Hall. The office even had a unisex washroom.

But scratch the surface, and a different picture emerges.

Lucy Liu was a stereotypical inscrutable block of Eastern ice. The black characters were curvaceous, loud, down-to-earth mother figures. The unisex loo was merely yet another location for characters to grope, bitch and wail.

Yes, Portia de Rossi was, in real life, a lesbian, but she didn't come out publicly until 2005, after the show had ended.

Ally McBeal was the nail in the coffin of the professional woman, who had been growing in stature since the early 1980s. We were portrayed as ditsy, drunk, dishevelled and impossibly hormonal. Who, frankly, would employ us?

(Video) The SAD Reason Actress Lisa Nicole Carson Got Blackballed (Ally McBeal)

Ally McBeal was the nail in the coffin of the professional woman, who had been growing in stature since the early 1980s. We were portrayed as ditsy, drunk, dishevelled and impossibly hormonal. Who, frankly, would employ us?

In contrast, although they didn't tick any diversity boxes, the four Sex And The City women were loyal, funny and ate and drank exactly what they pleased. Men came a very poor fifth.

Carrie was a one-woman celebration of fashion and individuality, whereas Ally McBeal, in her succession of mid-1980s power skirt-suits with clumpy block heels, was about presenting an acceptable silhouette which dim, unimaginative boardroom bores could understand.

I could never fathom why some intelligent women claimed to love Ally McBeal, unless they loved it despite themselves. Did anyone really resonate with the shortcomings of such an unlovable, unprofessional heroine? Or was it the case that seeing your flaws wrapped up in a size 4 figurine rendered them cute and quirky?

But then, how to explain the ever-enduring appeal of Mills & Boon? Do today's women really still hanker after a life of cliched, fairytale romance?

The show's producers clearly think so. After all, by resurrecting a character that is utterly void of backbone, they clearly think there's an appetite for a new breed of Stepford Wife. On the other hand, perhaps the rebooted show could be a salutary lesson to today's young career women, snapping them out of their neuroses quicker than the spin of a dancing baby.

If the show does indeed return, I'd love to be on board to hone the script. I wouldn't shoehorn in anything too woke, but I can imagine a world where Ally McBeal, now in her late-50s, has lost her job, home and mind because of a general flakiness and a lack of fat in her diet.

Ally McBeal unapologetically encouraged women to treat the office as a play pen when we should have been sharpening our knives, topping up our pensions, reading the small print of our contracts and childcare options, and prosecuting men for sexual harassment.

Not fulfilling every male fantasy in a mini-skirt that barely covered our legal briefs.

Ups and downs of the stars it made famous

The Kooky Leading Lady

Calista Flockhart (Ally McBeal)

Quirky, fragile and prone to song and dance-themed inner monologues, Calista was the show's eponymous heroine.

Calista was in her early 30s when she was cast as the lovelorn lawyer at fictional Boston firm Cage & Fish. The first season aired in 1997, and by 1998 Calista was holding a Golden Globe award.

She was dogged by scrutiny about her weight during the show's five-season run, later saying: 'Maybe during the filming of Ally McBeal, with 12 to 14-hour days, I was not eating as I should. But even then I only lost a few pounds.'

Once the cameras stopped rolling, Calista, now 57, essentially disappeared from screens while she focused on raising her son Liam, whom she adopted as a single mother in 2001. A year later she met actor Harrison Ford, 23 years her senior, with the pair marrying in 2010.

(Video) Josh groban - you're still you w ally mcbeal.flv

As for acting roles, Calista has remained in demand. She apparently turned down a role on Desperate Housewives, later taken by Teri Hatcher, but went on to win acclaim as Kitty Walker in Brothers & Sisters and later had a role in Supergirl.

Wonderbra Girl

Jane Krakowski (Elaine)

As Elaine, Ally's gossipy but dependable assistant, Jane endeared herself to viewers, in part because of her bizarre passion for inventions.

There was the automatic toilet seat warmer, the husband CD (which creates the audio impression that there's a man in the house), and, who could forget, the face bra (she still has one at home). Krakowski only had about ten lines in the pilot script, so at her audition she wore her 'tightest fuzzy Angora sweater, a little flip skirt and a Wonderbra' — and a character was born.

The trained singer, now 53, went on to greater fame as Jenna Maroney in comedy series 30 Rock and landed a Tony Award for Nine on Broadway.

Office Baddie

Lucy Liu (Ling)

Liu, now 53, auditioned for the role of Nelle Porter, but series creator David E. Kelley was so impressed he created icy Ling Woo just for her.

A villain of sorts (although viewers loved her), her appearance was often accompanied by the theme music for the Wicked Witch Of The West in The Wizard Of Oz.

Liu went on to appear in Charlie's Angels and Kill Bill: Volume 1. In 2015, her son Rockwell was born via surrogate. 'It just seemed like the right option because I was working and I didn't know when I was going to be able to stop,' she said.

The Ice Queen

Portia de Rossi (Nelle)

The Australian actress joined the show as ice queen Nelle in the second season. Instantly hated by women in the office, she struck up a romance with lovable John Cage.

(Video) All time best scene from Ally Mcbeal

Of her time on the show, she says: 'It's the kind of dream job actresses pray they get. And yet I was terrified of being exposed as gay.' Having struggled with an eating disorder from a young age, her weight fell to 5st 12lb.

De Rossi, 49, later married talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, and went on to further TV success in Arrested Development. In 2018, she revealed she'd retired from acting.

Bubbly Bestie

Lisa Nicole Carson (Renee)

Lisa, who played Ally's best friend and flatmate Renee, had the distinction of appearing in two hit series simultaneously: ER and Ally McBeal.

Her bubbly on-screen persona masked off-screen trauma. She was struggling with bipolar disorder and ended up being sectioned and placed on suicide watch. Her contract wasn't renewed for the final season of Ally McBeal, leaving her 'devastated'.

Following another breakdown in 2004, the 53-year-old spent a decade away from Hollywood before attempting to relaunch her career in 2014.

Wayward Hunk

Robert Downey Jr (Larry)

Love seemed to beckon for Ally at last when Robert Downey Jr joined the cast as Larry in season four.

He sang Every Breath You Take with Sting and won a Golden Globe. But it all went awry courtesy of the actor's rather troubled life off-screen.

Downey Jr, who was struggling with drug addiction, had just left prison, and was arrested again before filming for the season was completed, necessitating a script change — a wedding became a break-up. However, now 57, he sobered up and went on to make a triumphant Hollywood comeback, with starring roles in Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes.

(Video) Ally McBeal -- Barry White

FAQs

What was Ally McBeal's personal theme song? ›

David E. Kelley's initial choice for the "Ally McBeal" theme song was "Tell Him," a '60s pop tune by the Exciters. He settled on Vonda Shepard's "Searchin' My Soul." Conversely, on a recent episode, neurotic lawyer Ally McBeal, played by Calista Flockhart, first chose "Searchin' My Soul" as her personal theme.

Who is Ally McBeal's daughter? ›

Despite being only 12 years old when she first appeared on Ally McBeal's fifth season as Ally's (surprise) daughter Maddie Harrington, Hayden Panettiere had already racked up an impressive resume, including 2000's Remember the Titans and a role from 1998–2000 on Guiding Light.

What is Ally McBeal known for? ›

Allison Marie McBeal is the central fictional character in the Fox series Ally McBeal played by Calista Flockhart. Ally is a Boston-based lawyer. She is shown as a woman who constantly believes in love and is continually looking for her soul mate.

What is Ally McBeal real name? ›

Calista Flockhart (Ally McBeal)

Who is the bar singer in Ally McBeal? ›

Vonda Shepard (born July 7, 1963) is an American singer, songwriter, music director and actress. She appeared as a regular in the television show Ally McBeal, as a resident performer in the bar where the show's characters drank, danced and conversed after work.

Who fought in a kickboxing match on Ally McBeal? ›

Ally defends a doctor accused of transplanting a pig's liver into a woman without her permission; Ally and Georgia square off in a kickboxing match; and Whipper dumps Fish for toying again with Janet Reno.

How Old Is Calista Lockhart? ›

Does Ally end up with Victor? ›

At the end of the season, Ally breaks up with Larry who moves to Detroit to be closer to his son and ex-girlfriend. In Season 5, Ally briefly dates Victor Morrison but breaks up with him.

Does Billy and Georgia divorce? ›

Georgia serves Billy with divorce papers, with Renee agreeing to represent her. The firm is shocked when Georgia sues them for the destruction of her marriage.

Who does Ally end up with? ›

Fade into 10 years later, and Austin and Ally are married with a son and a daughter.

How tall is Calista? ›

Why does Ally McBeal see a dancing baby? ›

Anyway, on Ally McBeal, the Dancing Baby showed up as a symbol of Ally's fear about her biological clock, an obvious metaphor that hasn't aged well but was still sort of charming at the time, as charming as that show got, anyway.

Are Calista and Harrison still together? ›

Harrison Ford Has Been With Wife Calista Flockhart for Twenty Years.

Why did Calista Flockhart stop acting? ›

She didn't want to be the star of the show anymore. She still wanted to work in television, but she was looking for a different kind of role this time around. That's exactly why she agreed to be a part of Brothers & Sisters — she specifically wanted to be on an ensemble show.

Why is John Cage called the biscuit? ›

Close friends also often refer to John by the nickname 'The Biscuit. ' Cage told a story of the nickname once, indicating that he had been a chubby child, and that the nickname is a reference to the Pillsbury Doughboy.

Who are the backup singers on Ally McBeal? ›

Renée Elise Goldsberry: Singer, Backup Singer #1, Ikette #1, Backup Singer, Go-Go Dancer #1, Renee, Singers.

Who wrote the music for Ally McBeal? ›

singer Vonda Shepard

Who wrote Ally McBeal? ›

Ally McBeal

Can you watch Ally McBeal on Netflix? ›

Netflix is now streaming five seasons of Ally McBeal thanks to an expanded deal with Twentieth Century Fox that also benefits fans of Glee and Sons of Anarchy.

How many seasons of Ally McBeal are on Hulu? ›

Hulu has every season of Ally McBeal

If you have a Hulu account, the entire five-season run of Ally McBeal is available to stream at your leisure whenever you wish.

How can I watch Ally McBeal in Australia? ›

  1. Kayo Sports.
  2. Kayo from Telstra.
  3. Foxtel from Telstra.
  4. Main Event.
  5. Optus Sport.
  6. DAZN.
19 Sept 2022

How long have Calista and Harrison been together? ›

When did Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart meet? The pair started dating in 2002 and tied the knot eight years later in 2010. The sparks were flying between the two almost immediately, as they met at the Golden Globes Awards in 2002.

What's the meaning of Calista? ›

Calista is a baby girl name of mixed origin. Meaning “most beautiful,” the name Calista can be a proud exclamation of your admiration for baby. Calista derives from both the Greek name Kallisto and the Roman name Callistus.

What is Ally McBeal's net worth? ›

' She also appeared in 'Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her' the following year. As of September 2022, Calista Flockhart's net worth is estimated to be roughly $30 Million.
...
Net Worth:$30 Million
Country of Origin:United States of America
Source of Wealth:Professional Actress
Last Updated:August 2, 2022
4 more rows
3 Aug 2022

Does Ally McBeal marry Larry? ›

His character, Larry, began dating Calista Flockhart's character of Ally McBeal. In the penultimate episode of the season, Larry was all set to propose and the final episode was going to be "The Wedding." Then things went wrong and the penultimate episode was re-written so that Larry dumps Ally instead.

Why did Larry leave ally? ›

Robert Downey, Jr. was added as a new character named Larry Paul and served as Ally's love interest during the season, but due to the actor's problem with drug addiction, he was written out.

Why did they write Billy off in Ally McBeal? ›

According to reports from It's A Stampede, John Cage was all set to continue the character he was playing in the fifth season. But, when he was arrested over drug use, his character was written out of the series.

Why do Billy and Georgia break up? ›

They were together in high school and she followed him to Harvard Law where they stayed together for a year until Billy decided to move to Michigan after having met Georgia while visiting the school there. He didn't tell Ally that, but used the importance of clerking in Michigan as a reason for the break-up.

What happened to Billy Thomas? ›

Billy Thomas, Ally McBeal (2002)

In one mid-season episode, Billy found out he had a benign brain tumor. So, okay, we figured he'd die at the end of the season, after the tumor turned out to be not so benign. But no! The next episode, Billy collapsed in court and died, just like that.

How does Ally McBeal end? ›

The series ended with McBeal moving back to New York City to be with her long, lost daughter, Maddie (Hayden Panettiere).

Do Dez and Trish get together? ›

In the second time jump, we find out just how everything came together: Dez ends up marrying Carrie and together they have a little six-year-old named Darrie, Trish ties the knot with Chuck and they have a beautiful daughter together, and Austin and Ally become married with 2 kids.

Why does Ally say no Austin? ›

In the two part series finale, Musicals & Moving On and Duets & Destiny, Austin and Ally's relationship doesn't go well because of their busy schedules and they break up for 4 years, which causes them to not speak to each other for that long, but from the help of Trish and Dez, they perform a duet together and rekindle ...

Is there going to be a reboot of Ally McBeal? ›

A new iteration of the beloved TV show “Ally McBeal” is said to be in the works. The new series will be a sequel rather than a reboot and will focus on a young Black woman who joins the law firm from the original “Ally McBeal” after she graduates from law school, according to Deadline.

What does Calista Flockhart weight? ›

Her height is 1.66 m tall, and her weight is 51 kg.
...
Calista Flockhart bio: net worth, age, height, weight, husband, kids, wiki.
Real Name/Birth NameCalista Kay Flockhart
Height(s) Feet5 feet and 5 inches
Heights in cm166 cm
Weight51 kg
Weight(s) in pound112 pounds
12 more rows
10 Jul 2022

What is Harrison Ford's net worth 2022? ›

Harrison Ford net worth is around $300 Million in 2022.

Harrison Ford has earned a huge amount of money throughout his career in films and other works.

What does the baby dancing mean? ›

Baby Dancing (BD'ing) is a term used to describe having unprotected sex with the intention of getting pregnant, ideally when you're most fertile, to improve chances of conceiving. You and your partner get to “dance” your way to pregnancy—and you don't even need any music to make it work.

Who owns the dancing baby? ›

Although Girar credits Lussier as being responsible for the meme's spread, news website Vox reports that the meme became viral after it was converted and posted as an animated GIF by developer John Woodell. Users and animators were able to render their own video clips of the 'original' animated dancing baby (sk_baby.

Where did the dancing baby meme come from? ›

Girard said it was likely first sent out by one of Autodesk's customers, Ron Lussier, who made modifications to the original source file and attached a low-res version to a message. But according to Vox, the "Dancing Baby" spread across the wider internet when web developer John Woodell turned it into a GIF.

How does Ally McBeal get a daughter? ›

10-year-old Maddie Harrington shows up on Ally's door saying she is her daughter, the result of a mix-up on the egg bank Ally deposited her eggs ten years ago.

Who does ally end up with? ›

Fade into 10 years later, and Austin and Ally are married with a son and a daughter.

Why does Ally McBeal see a dancing baby? ›

Anyway, on Ally McBeal, the Dancing Baby showed up as a symbol of Ally's fear about her biological clock, an obvious metaphor that hasn't aged well but was still sort of charming at the time, as charming as that show got, anyway.

Does Ally McBeal marry Larry? ›

His character, Larry, began dating Calista Flockhart's character of Ally McBeal. In the penultimate episode of the season, Larry was all set to propose and the final episode was going to be "The Wedding." Then things went wrong and the penultimate episode was re-written so that Larry dumps Ally instead.

Why did they cancel Ally McBeal? ›

Over the course of four seasons, Ally McBeal experienced an increase, then a stabilisation in the ratings. However, during the show's fifth year – a year in which a number of regular characters either disappeared or were written out – the ratings declined and the series was cancelled.

What happens at the end of Ally McBeal? ›

The series ended with McBeal moving back to New York City to be with her long, lost daughter, Maddie (Hayden Panettiere). “Ally McBeal” was often criticized by feminists.

Who fires Ally McBeal? ›

Ally makes personnel changes at the firm and lets one of the lawyers go. Fish represents Claire Otoms, who was fired for using the bathroom at work.

Do Dez and Trish get together? ›

In the second time jump, we find out just how everything came together: Dez ends up marrying Carrie and together they have a little six-year-old named Darrie, Trish ties the knot with Chuck and they have a beautiful daughter together, and Austin and Ally become married with 2 kids.

Why does Ally say no Austin? ›

In the two part series finale, Musicals & Moving On and Duets & Destiny, Austin and Ally's relationship doesn't go well because of their busy schedules and they break up for 4 years, which causes them to not speak to each other for that long, but from the help of Trish and Dez, they perform a duet together and rekindle ...

Is there going to be a reboot of Ally McBeal? ›

A new iteration of the beloved TV show “Ally McBeal” is said to be in the works. The new series will be a sequel rather than a reboot and will focus on a young Black woman who joins the law firm from the original “Ally McBeal” after she graduates from law school, according to Deadline.

What does the baby dancing mean? ›

Baby Dancing (BD'ing) is a term used to describe having unprotected sex with the intention of getting pregnant, ideally when you're most fertile, to improve chances of conceiving. You and your partner get to “dance” your way to pregnancy—and you don't even need any music to make it work.

Who owns the dancing baby? ›

Although Girar credits Lussier as being responsible for the meme's spread, news website Vox reports that the meme became viral after it was converted and posted as an animated GIF by developer John Woodell. Users and animators were able to render their own video clips of the 'original' animated dancing baby (sk_baby.

Where did the dancing baby meme come from? ›

Girard said it was likely first sent out by one of Autodesk's customers, Ron Lussier, who made modifications to the original source file and attached a low-res version to a message. But according to Vox, the "Dancing Baby" spread across the wider internet when web developer John Woodell turned it into a GIF.

Does John Cage marry Melanie? ›

The relationship becomes so serious that John eventually asks Melanie to marry him. When she declines because she doesn't believe in marriage and then tells John she isn't capable of spending her entire life with one person, John ends the relationship.

Who does Richard end up with in Ally McBeal? ›

Richard Fish gets married in the final episode of Ally McBeal. The character, played by Greg Germann, ties the knot with Liza Bump, played by Christina Ricci.

Why did Larry dump Ally McBeal? ›

Robert Downey, Jr. was added as a new character named Larry Paul and served as Ally's love interest during the season, but due to the actor's problem with drug addiction, he was written out.

Videos

1. Ally McBeal Barry White - Finale with Barry White
(3sha214)
2. Vonda Shepard - Searchin' My Soul (Official Music Video)
(Erie Oktaviar)
3. Ally Mcbeal I can't stop this feeling
(MsMorrisone)
4. Ally McBeal - Santa Baby
(Chriz1107)
5. CDS S3 EP15 | #rhop's Juan + Robyn Finally Ready To Wed, Jessie Williams and Ally McBeal Reboot!
(Carmine Davis)
6. 'Ally McBeal' Sequel: Calista Flockhart Set To Return To Iconic Role | Celebrity Hot Goss
(Celebrity Hot Goss)

Top Articles

Latest Posts

Article information

Author: Tuan Roob DDS

Last Updated: 01/13/2023

Views: 5821

Rating: 4.1 / 5 (42 voted)

Reviews: 89% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Tuan Roob DDS

Birthday: 1999-11-20

Address: Suite 592 642 Pfannerstill Island, South Keila, LA 74970-3076

Phone: +9617721773649

Job: Marketing Producer

Hobby: Skydiving, Flag Football, Knitting, Running, Lego building, Hunting, Juggling

Introduction: My name is Tuan Roob DDS, I am a friendly, good, energetic, faithful, fantastic, gentle, enchanting person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.