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Ally McBeal was a groundbreaking late 1990's television series that followed the professional and personal misadventures of a young female attorney in Boston. The show was an often ingenious confection of comedy and drama, frequently mixing a comic subplot with a relatively dramatic overall theme. Many of the characters in the series enjoyed a healthy fantasy life that was depicted on screen in the form of daydreams, hallucinations or nightmares. One of the most well-known hallucinations that Ally experienced during the series was the dancing baby, symbolizing her ambivalence about motherhood, which quickly become a pop culture phenomenon.

The series was set in the fictional Cage and Fish law firm where the title character was employed. Partners Richard Fish and John Cage enjoyed their reputations as quirky employers, often taking on cases from which other firms would shy away. Their unconventional approach to the legal practice made for entertaining plot lines and created a great deal of conflict with Ally and other series regulars. One of the most notable facets of Cage and Fish was their unisex bathroom facilities, a device that was much talked about when the series premiered.

The Ally McBeal character was often the subject of controversy during the five season run of the show. Critics felt that her ultra short skirts and overt emotional problems did a disservice to professional women. However, fans suggested that Ally McBeal simply highlighted many of the insecurities and pressures that all modern women face. That Ally could take a lighthearted, and often bittersweet, view of many of these problems underlined the complexities for women who feel they must choose between a career and a family.

Many of the plots in the series dealt largely with Ally McBeal's personal travails. She regularly visited a therapist, and many episodes revolved around her search for love and fulfillment. These plot lines were frequently dovetailed with a courtroom plot that might help characters make personal realizations. Unconventional storytelling methods and a distinctly modernist outlook made for compelling viewing.

Most episodes were heavily driven by music. Employees and clients of Cage and Fish regularly patronized a bar where recording artist Vonda Shepard performed on a nightly basis. Many cast members performed numbers throughout the series run, displaying their gifts for multiple talents. Characters within the show often connected through songs, and the music is considered to be an essential component of the series.

5 Seasons, 112 Episodes
September 8, 1997
Drama, Comedy
Cast: Calista Flockhart, Ally McBeal, English Wikipedia, ČSFD, Courtney Thorne-Smith
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Ally McBeal Full Episode Guide

  • When Maddie suffers a nervous breakdown, Ally decides to move to New York, leading to tearful goodbyes with her friends; Fish and Liza decide to wed.

  • When Maddie suffers a nervous breakdown, Ally decides to move to New York, leading to tearful goodbyes with her friends; Fish and Liza decide to wed.

  • When Fish's father is sued for sexual harassment, Fish's mother asks for a divorce; Elaine has high hopes when she tries out for a role in "A Chorus Line"; Fish finds himself increasingly drawn to Liza.

  • When Fish's father is sued for sexual harassment, Fish's mother asks for a divorce; Elaine has high hopes when she tries out for a role in A Chorus Line; Fish finds himself increasingly drawn to Liza.

  • Ally represents Victor when he's sued by an ex-girlfriend, and is appalled to discover that Victor created a painting of her... complete with cellulite; Wilson plays dirty when a client's ex-girlfriend threatens to go public with a videotape of their lovemaking; with Claire's assistance, Fish makes advances on Liza.

  • Ally grows nervous when her third date with Victor approaches; Cage meets his match -- a tiny, beautiful, and masterfully manipulative attorney nicknamed "Lolita"; the attorneys attempt to arrange a pre-nuptial when Claire suddenly announces that she's getting married.

  • Ally does a lot of soul searching after she asks Victor out on a date; Fish, Raymond, and Claire represent a woman seeking a heart transplant from her father -- who is serving time for killing the woman's mother.

  • Ally decides to have a DNA test performed to determine if Maddie is her daughter; a woman suffering from dementia mistakes Victor for her lover; Claire arranges a meeting between Fish and his first love.

  • Ally fires two of the firm's employees; Fish defends Claire Otoms when she's accused of sexually harassing co-workers; Nelle and Ling lip-synch a song at the bar; Maddie throws a slumber party for her friends.

  • Fish offers to make Ally a partner; a woman with AIDS sues after she's fired from a law firm; Ally adjusts to the responsibilities that come with parenthood.

  • A little girl claims she is Ally's daughter; Fish and Cage take on their first murder trial, defending a man accused of kicking his wife in the head.

  • Ally aids a man determined to make a lifelong dream come true by flying across a river using a pair of wings; a matchmaker sets up Elaine and Fish on dates.

  • Ally falls in love with a dumpy house being renovated by construction worker Victor Morrison; a woman sues after her adoring ex-husband goes bankrupt by lavishing her with gifts; Jenny's chiropractor's chair proves sexually fulfilling.

  • Frances' fiance hits on Ally; Kimmy takes a matchmaker to court after she spends a great deal of money and fails to find a man; Ally encounters the ghost of a young boy.

  • As Christmas approaches: a minister loses his job because he no longer believes in God; a town mayor cancels Christmas celebrations; a woman sues for sexual harassment after a man kisses her under mistletoe during a party.

  • Ally, Glenn, Raymond, and Jenny go out on a double date; Cage returns to the office after his mysterious disappearance only to learn that Fish accessed his "hole" during his absence; a fifty-six-year-old man asks Fish to overturn a judge's ruling that forbids the love of his life from marrying him because she scammed older men; Ling poses nude for a photo shoot.

  • Jenny's mother, who is marrying a 22-year-old man, sues her former employers for sexual harassment; Elton John sings at the bar.

  • Jenny represents Raymond in a sexual harassment case; complications arise when Raymond expresses an interest in dating Jenny and Glenn expresses an interest in dating Ally; Fish moves into the hole behind Cage's toilet when Cage mysteriously disappears.

  • The attorneys develop a novel approach to gain leverage against the telephone companies; Cage expresses his feelings for Ally.

  • Ally and Jenny are shocked to discover that the name plaintiff in the telephone company solicitation case is a man in drag; Ling becomes a judge in small claims court; Coretta convinces Cage to have a make-over.

  • The firm hires attorneys Jenny Shaw and Glenn Foy; Shaw sues all the telephone companies for making annoying solicitation calls; Cage believes Ally loves him.

  • As Ally struggles to move forward after her break-up with Larry, she represents a shy boy devastated by the rejection of his would-be prom date. Fish develops concerns over the firm's apparent lack of compassion.

  • Ally and Larry have a misunderstanding, which leads to their breaking up. In L.A., Fish handles a contract case involving the publishing of nude photos, and gets some unusual help from Cage in Boston.

  • A man sues rock star Sting for ruining his marriage; a Barbra Streisand impersonator sues a plastic surgeon for making his nose too big.

  • Cage faces off against Larry when he represents a man seeking to clone his dead wife.

  • A woman sues for fraud after she falls in love with a man online only to discover he is a little person; a man is sued for ruining a wedding.

  • A couple about to marry find their relationship thrown into turmoil when their attorneys -- Jackson and Larry -- bicker over a prenuptial agreement; a man attempts to have his father declared incompetent on the grounds that he's too happy.

  • Fish and Cage travel to Los Angeles for a much-needed getaway, where they become involved in the lives of two women.

  • A man seeks an annulment after his wife changes her mind about having children; Ally seeks therapy when she experiences fantasies about falling -- and Larry.

  • The firm defends a female attorney who fired all her male workers; Fish and Cage attend couples therapy after a dispute erupts over a baseball glove.

  • As Valentine's Day approaches: a man wed to a nymphomaniac seeks to annul the marriage; Ally has visions of singer Barry Manilow; Cage proposes to Melanie; handsome attorney Jackson Duper joins the firm.

  • A dance instructor claims his former partner stole his dance moves; Larry's son attempts to sue his estranged parents for emotional distress; Cindy McAuliff attempts to wed a man.

  • Ally reluctantly represents a woman who fired an employee for being overweight; Cage fears he's being stalked by a transient; Elaine hopes to win a dance contest.

  • Larry's girlfriend announces her intention to move to Canada; Melanie is fired from her job; a bride-to-be asks Ling to make advances on her fiance to test his faithfulness.

  • Cage defends a Tourette's syndrome sufferer accused of running over her lover; an elderly woman fears her attorney-husband will never retire and sues for divorce.

  • As Christmas approaches, Larry receives a surprise visit from his ex-girlfriend; Nelle's father, who believes he is Santa Claus, sues his former employer for wrongful termination.

  • A former employee sues Elaine for sexual harassment; a gay man wins a date with Fish during a charity auction; Nelle dates a man with a secret.

  • The firm represents a newscaster who exposed the truth about Santa during a broadcast; Ally learns why Larry hates Christmas; Cage attempts to impress Kimmy by assuming the role of a rock singer.

  • Ally, who fears she may have forgotten how to kiss, battles Larry Paul in court when Kimmy sues her former law firm.

  • A woman sues for defamation after Ally makes embarrassing remarks in front of her conservative friends; Ally hires Larry to defend her in court; Mark makes a final decision regarding his relationship to Cindy.

  • Ally falls for two men at once: an older gentleman and a handsome stranger; Fish considers telling Mark about Cindy; a client claims she lost her husband after a seminar guru encouraged her to be submissive.

  • Ally cleverly stages a way for her and her friends to meet desirable men at the bar; a man claims he was forced to quit his job when his female employer pressured him for sex; Fish realizes that Mark has fallen in love with a woman sporting male genitalia.

  • Ally develops cold feet when Brian Selig asks her to move in with him, then seeks advice from cute therapist Larry Paul; a client seeks an annulment instead of a divorce after she discovers that her husband has been cheating on her.

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