Ally McBeal - Review

So I watched the second episode of Ally McBeal (the thinking man's Melanie Griffiths) because everyone I know has changed their allegiance from ER to AMcB, due to careful cross selling on the night of the penultimate ER.

I'm contractually bound to video something on a Wednesday night and went for the second episode. The main question? Does Ally McBeal do no work? She just runs around dealing with her emotional life and those of everyone she knows. Gossiping with her flatmate and having cappuccino-laden daydreams.

We have only seen Ally in court once so far, and just as she opened her mouth her ex-boyfriend, (law-firm-style-partner rather than sex-style partner) stepped into the breach, Sir Walter Raleigh of the Law Courts, saving her from making an argument. Legal, of course. Requested to show her teeth to the Judge? P-u-leeessee!!! Where I come from that's some sort of harassment, surely…… Dental harassment?

And have you seen Ally open a file? Apart from artfully shuffling papers on the floor to show off her legs? Take a call from a client?? Ask her Tefal-headed secretary to get out some correspondence? She just rushes from office to office exhibiting attention-seeking behaviour.

Also, a lot of time is spent in the toilets. Still unclear whether they are unisex or there are two sets but everyone is very disinhibited. Maybe it's a US thing? Cagney & Lacey also spent quality time in the bathroom in the late seventies, but at least they went out and arrested people afterwards.

Can't help feeling slightly jealous: it never happens to me that I lose my job and five seconds later run into an old friend in the street, who - looking at my legs rather than my CV - offers me a job (a partnership, no less) on the spot.

And why hasn't she been sacked? In my office, there is a collective sense that it is not OK to spend more than, say, 10% of your time on personal stuff. And that's important items like leaking bathrooms, last -minute pension contributions at the end of the tax year, and a really good sale at Warehouse. She just has her inner-life… out.

Seems to me that Ally has some friends, too. Would you hire Bridget Jones? Reference: "Inability to concentrate on the task in hand. Too many personal phone calls". Jackie Pane (Does My Bum Look Big in This?)? Reference: "Appears to have difficulty concentrating on clients needs rather than her own".

If Ally McBeal is a role model for single women, then there wouldn't be any single career women. There would be a huge queue of single, well-clad, impeccably-heeled nymphettes signing on talking about mens' inability to commit. You' d be able to get a low-cost manicure at the DHSS. People would "share" in the dole queue. We wouldn't open the Sunday papers anymore to read interviews with women who "chose" their career over family life. There'd be an underclass of a jobless thirty-something women wearing slightly outmoded (no cash) clothes selling The Big Issue.

The truth is that Ally is not - in my book - a post-feminist chick. It's cool to show some cleavage and simper if you get what you want. The millennium mantra: say what you think, ask what you want, be who you are: sisters aren't even talking about doing it for themselves any more, they just are.

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