TV Review: Ally McBeal

One man’s perspective…
By Chris Porter
February 24, 2000

Okay. Go ahead and call me a typical insensitive, knuckle-dragging man, but am I alone on the opinion that Ally McBeal just isn’t geared toward the male perspective? I mean, I tried, I really did try to watch it with an open mind, on the recommendation of family members, including my own mother. Now before you go cursing me for such blasphemy, keep in mind that I’ve seen only three shows, and this is a newbie’s opinion. Don’t get me wrong, I find Calista Flockhart to be an irresistibly cute girl-in-the-office-next-door, but of the three shows I’ve watched, her character “Ally” just tends to get on my nerves, cuteness aside.

I understand that McBeal is just a sitcom (or whatever they deem it these days), but would any one in their right mind ever seriously hire this woman to represent them in any case? I can’t tell you, and have no problem with today’s shows parodying real life, but this show seems to have built a reality of its own based around some weird, surrealistic fantasy of practicing law. Maybe that’s the draw of the show, but it does nothing but leave me confused as to where it’s going. One thing I can actually fess up to liking about Flockhart’s character is that shes not afraid to point out her neurosis and vulnerabilities towards life, the opposite sex, etc. Being a single person in today’s professional world as well, I can relate? Okay, I really can’t relate to HER character per se'(sp?), but its fun to watch. In fact, if there was any character on this planet that I thought needed therapy 5 times a week, Its definitely Ally. I mean, Shes more neurotic about stuff than me or the people she represents seem to be, and that’s quite a feat. The office guys are genuinely funny (Cage, Fish) too, in a masochistic sort of way, and Cage’s blatantly honest remarks (with sexual undertones) to the women are priceless.

The supporting females in the show, though very sexy and pleasant to look at, could show more depth, especially Nell. Whats up with that character? They should make her wear t-shirts that say: “try as you might, you will never have me”. Call me old fashioned, but as a male reaching his upper 20s, a beautiful-yet-bitchy, unattainable-unless-you’re-making-high-six-figures-a-year snob like Nell doesn’t scream sexy to me. Some like her because they say shes honest. That’s valid, but it honestly seems plain tired and insulting to me. On the flip, my appeal for Ling’s character increased ever since the episode where she defended a friend (an older man) after being kicked out of his nursing home. It showed that the show’s supporting characters do have some substance, a charm of their own, and that their sub-plots can be just as interesting as Ally’s ridiculous quests for love.

And ridiculous quests they are. In an episode, Ally literally runs into the back of a guy’s car to get his attention. Maybe its because I’m male, and an avid automotive nut, but that’s just seems so…politically incorrect…bordering on insanity! 🙂

I suppose my whole “beef” with the show is that It can be very tough to watch because it doesn’t feel geared to a younger professional male like myself (wait! did I just call myself a “yuppie”? strike that “younger professional” part). Flockhart’s character, although she can be very sweet and sincere, is so off-the-wall that its hard for me to relate to. Don’t get me completely wrong here, I can definitely see the series drawing a strong female following due to the many insights to modern day women’s issues in the eyes of Ally and her colleges, but reluctantly, I label this a more of a “chick show”, and I think thats one of the best things about it. The women are the strength factor here, all playing competant individuals holding respected positions in society. I’m glad more shows portray women in this light, because its realistic.

Speaking as a man, I can’t honestly say that I get a boatload of inspiration to keep tuning into Ally McBeal. Maybe i’m jaded because I interact in a professional atmosphere most of the time, but on the whole, this show is a whole new breed of nuts. Am I so out of it? Do women and men really carry on like this in the professional world? Could be. Check it out for yourself on FOX!

Rating: 2 out 5 stars

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