I first started watching Ally McBeal after reading Portia de Rossi’s memoir “Unbearable Lightness,” and I never would’ve guessed that the life lessons from Ally McBeal would have such a strong impact on me. The quirky, ‘90s law show follows one bizarre case after another. Apart from the legal lingo, you pick up life lessons from Ally McBeal; it changes you. Watching this show has taught me so much about life and for that, I am grateful.
If you’ve seen the show, you’ve heard Richard Fish’s motto: Bygones. He practically ends every sentence with it! Saying ‘bygones’ is Richard’s way of not only dismissing the conversation but also moving on. I find myself using this phrase in everyday life, when friends don’t catch my jokes or when something doesn’t go the way I planned. This life lesson from Ally McBeal taught me that life is what it is, so let bygones be bygones!
I just watched an episode of Ally McBeal this morning where John Cage shares the quote: “My uncle used to say that riding a bicycle and laughing, two things you never forget how to do.” He goes on to stress the point that so often we get wrapped into the materialistic world that we forget to just take the time aside to laugh. I know whenever I watch Ally McBeal, I always find myself laughing at the ridiculousness of some of their cases and the fun-spirited air of the show. It keeps me entertained when my weeks gets more stressful than I wanted.
3. Theme Song
If you don’t have a theme song, then you should probably reconsider it! Ally’s therapist Dr. Tracy Clark introduces the idea of having a theme song which was new for me. Barry White’s voice takes the stage in John Cage’s mind while Ally McBeal strums a different tune, “Tell Him” by Linda Ronstadt. Having a theme song is meant to pick you up and give you the confidence boost you need. After watching this show, I chose Natasha Bedingfield’s song “Strip Me” as mine, which I love to sing whenever I need that little extra to get me through the day. What’s yours?
Sometimes you just click with someone, and you can’t quite explain it. The relationship between John Cage and Ally McBeal gets me thinking. They are completely honest with each other, even if they know it’s not what the other person wants to hear. John Cage even points that out when he says, “That’s the trouble I suppose in coming to people with honesty, sometimes they counter with it.” By the end of the show, Ally needs to say goodbye to everyone in her office, the people who have changed her into the woman she is. I want connections with friends like that, so that when I have to move on, I can cry because we had something special.
5. Fish-isms and McBeal-isms
Throughout the show, Richard Fish shares his words of wisdom, aka ‘Fish-isms,’ with those around him. Ally McBeal even goes to make a ‘McBeal-ism.’ These words of wisdom are really what these people are known for because it’s true to their characters. I may not walk around spitting out ‘Handy-isms’ but I think it’s important to keep in mind your own advice; that is to say, what your values are and what you stand for. It helps when you’re, as the theme song suggests, ‘walking the line painted by pride.’
It’s no mystery that Ally McBeal is plagued with insecurities, about relationships, herself, and her future. In a conversation with Georgia Thomas, she asks, “Ally, what makes your problems so much bigger than everyone else’s?” Her reply: “They’re mine.” I’m not saying you need to discredit other’s experiences because they are just as valid as yours. But I also think it’s important to know that you’re not selfish for working through your own. It may be a real or imagined stressor but to you, it’s real and so you have to work from there.
People will come in and out of your life. And your relationship with them may fade along the way. But that doesn’t make the memories any less important than they were. I think about how Renée Raddick, Ally’s roommate, and her slowly drift apart during the show. It doesn’t mean that their time spent living together is any less fun, insightful, or entertaining, but rather a stepping stone to who Ally becomes.
Ally McBeal is one of my favorite shows because of it’s quirky nature and subtle life lessons. I think you can learn a lot from the employees at Cage & Fish & McBeal, as the firm becomes by the show’s end. What’s one thing you learned from this motley crew?