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December 2022
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Wordless Wednesday: View from Helicopter

Gender bias and Ally McBeal

This might be a long post.

I’m watching the TV show Ally McBeal because it is one of Linda’s favorite shows. While watching it, I kept remarking on how much I love the character Nelle and disliked any male character that acts like an asshole. This started to trouble me (I had to take a moment), when I realized that some of the exact same behavior that I denounced in the male characters, I would applaud or forgive when it came to Nelle or Ling. My father has said that I was raised in a family that abused men by basically putting them below women. That criticism has always stuck with me despite my dismissing it as stemming from a traditional male idea of a family hierarchy. I.e. Men should be the head of the family. Every once in a while though, there seems to be a kernel of truth to it. Hence my taking a moment when I had my realization about my feelings towards fictional characters.

I’m dizzy and this is harder than it should be. I’ve been thinking about it for a while. So. I have realized that the writers actually did some clever things with the show. Richard and Ling are actually male and female versions of the same character. They don’t like to admit that they are human and have soft spots so they go around pissing people off and saying things that force people to have emotional and physical space from them. In Richard’s case, the few times his humanity and emotions catch up to him, he actually seems surprised underneath. Ling seems to know she is human and knows these things come up, so her efforts are mostly focused on making sure that other people have a damned hard time seeing her in those moments. I like both Richard and Ling. I get them. Sometimes I think I have more than a little in common with them.

The other interesting thing is that Ally and Billy are complements. Like Ying and Yang. They actually should have gotten married. Billy actually did want a 50s kind of wife and Ally wanted a 50s kind of husband. Ally said on the show that she wouldn’t mind quitting to take care of kids. That she wants kids. That she went to law school just because Billy did. Billy, for all the show set him up as being crazy towards the end because of his brain aneurysm tumor, really did want a wife to make him feel like a man instead of being in a true partnership where the relationship is more fluid and thus at times, more difficult. The reason (I think) that the whole 50s family is appealing to some people is that it gives structure and meaning and rules instead of having to make up your own. Billy tried with Georgia to have a modern relationship/family and he was just too insecure. Ally was betrayed because Billy had probably given her every indication that they were on the same page and then he left her with no male to fill the traditional role. She was a wife without a husband, a mother without kids, and a lawyer who no longer knew why she was even a lawyer.
(ETA: Linda corrected me. It was the tumor that made him crazy.)

Georgia was not there to prop up Billy’s self esteem or self worth. She was there to be a lawyer, have a husband and some kids and live her life. When she found out her husband was too afraid to figure shit out with her and wanted to revert to a life that put her in certain role, she left him, cut her hair and changed jobs. She didn’t JUST change jobs, she went to work for an all female-partnered law firm. She didn’t just walk away from the idea of being a wife and mom and home maker, she removed herself as far as she could.

Which brings me to Nelle and John. If Richard and Ling are mirrors and Ally and Billy are interlocking pieces to a coin, then Nelle and John are magnets. At times they pull at each other and at times they push away. Nelle didn’t want to remove herself from marriage and the traditional 50s wife. She wanted to turn it on its head. She wanted to at times make a mockery of it. She wanted a lover and maybe a husband, but one who flouted tradition with her. She thought that John was it. He was weird and yet successful and strange. But John, for all that he was so far from the typical male, is very much about hearth and home. John didn’t need to cling to the rules and traditions that Billy needed. He walks his own path because he finds his own joys and his own meaning. He doesn’t care about other people’s traditions and rules. He was baffled by Nelle’s need to look down her nose and mock. She needed to prove she was above it. John exists outside it entirely.

Then, finally, to the last two characters of the show that I have any tiny speck of interest thinking about: Elaine and Larry. So Elaine is basically there for comedic relief. They use her for stuff like the jog bra and let the other characters look down on her. She’s a woman who wants a husband and a job to pay the bills and to have fun. She tends to not care what others think until they marginalize her with their opinions, then she speaks or acts up. Except for the fact that they made her so mannerisms INCREDIBLY annoying, I might find her the most refreshing part of the show.

Finally, Larry. They changed the ENTIRE show for his scenes. The lighting seems different, the sound effects are different, the delivery of lines is different. Larry is RESPECT. He’s the antithesis of Billy. He’s the normalcy to John’s bizarreness. He’s SO unremarkable that on any other show, he’d be boring except for two things. 1) This is Ally McBeal, not any other show, so he’s brings astonishing relief. 2) He’s played by RDJ. Suddenly after Larry shows up, Ally has respect for herself, she cares for the people around her more, the people around her care for HER more. Before Larry, John had remarked on how Ally always made it about her. After Larry, RICHARD of all people, remarks on how Ally is taking care of everyone else when they were supposed to be supporting her through her hard time. If Larry weren’t played by RDJ, I’d be pissed. If it weren’t for the fact that his character is so very much about love and respect, I’d be pissed. Because if you look at Ally, then basically the show seems to be saying that as long as you have a man in your life, your life straightens out. The other perspective could be though, that when you surround yourself with people who accept you for who you are, suddenly you are more capable of being treated as a real person and treating other people as a real as well. The reason I find this second perspective so hard to believe though is that Ally supposedly has Renee before Larry and yet it doesn’t mean anything until it’s a MAN.

So in reality, if I just wanted to answer the question about my gender bias, I could have stopped after analyzing Nelle and Billy. But I think without realizing how the show contradicts itself on the issue of female and male roles, it’s hard to realize why Nelle’s character is easier to forgive for her transgressions than Billy. Where Nelle went wrong was in her personal unwillingness to give respect and interact with certain people, Billy tried to impose his persona on his wife and the law firm (Billy’s girls). Also, I suspect I do have a bit of a gender bias.

Whats the saddest breakfast?

Brain and I are setting up her trip to visit me and before she flies back home we are going to have breakfast. She edited that breakfast to read sad breakfast. I edited it to add “What’s the saddest breakfast?” This is what followed: Linda is red. I’m blue.

lol is this a riddle?
No. I’m asking a question. That’s what the ? is for.
But they have funny content like idon’tknow. funny content.
lol. well this is why i asked is it a riddle? i coudlnt tell
but u cant tell with riddles all the time either!
…how do you go from what’s the saddest breakfast to RIDDLE?
that’s why i asked? I Dunno
operative word
i was just checkinnnnggg
jebs mesf jesfbet jeebs mefs
:( :)
:( :)
it was a real question
mine too
so to answer
im not sure what a sad breakfast would be
and if i wanna really
eat it
we are going to find out.

so u can say
your orginal question
where we dont know the answer to
is a rhetoricla question
how tricky
well if you had asked me if that was a rhetorical question, then I would have said yes!
i see now.

Following the convo, Linda edited the breakfast to add “(Don’t answer, this is a rhetorical question)” I wrote the question expecting her to say: “THIS ONE.” I should have learned by now to never ever try and predict Linda.

2010 in review

I’ve been meaning to do this for a little while. I figure 2010 was a huge year, so it took me a whole month to review it. That seems fair to me. Remind me if I forgot anything.

Linda, considering how much of November I remember (damn that rhymes), I might be persuaded to do the blogging thing again.


  • Packed
  • Fought with Bear about packing
  • Bought boxes and tape for packing.
  • Paperwork. God I remember a ton of paperwork getting ready for closing.
  • Dealt with both Bear’s and my anxiety about moving and buying the house
  • Got Bear into a Whole Foods for the first time ever.
  • Stalked our house many many many times.
  • This was also the beginning of the hellish anxiety over Bear coming up with things he wants to change about the house and how much I can’t stand hearing about the unending lists of potential changes
  • Dealt with the anxiety about our loan going through the underwriting and approval and god knows what else because it took forever.
  • The joy of knowing we were cleared to close: i.e. we were gonna get our house!
  • TA’d one of my advisor’s classes.


  • We closed!
  • Packing became furious and concentrated
  • We cleaned the new house
  • We moved
  • We cleaned the old apartment
  • We lived on minimal computer/tv time.
  • Our house was cold and unfamiliar and new.
  • We unpacked, a little more leisurely than we had packed at the beginning of the month
  • We lit a fire in our new fireplace
  • We smoked out our living room lighting that fire and the very few that we lit after that
  • We bought a bunch of plants to make our home more homey
  • We changed out our car from a Ford to a Toyota because we hated not having cargo space
  • We had our first snowstorm at our house
  • I climbed into our attic
  • We started to get sick of Chipotle
  • TA’d one of my advisor’s classes.


  • Momma and Annie came to visit
  • Got a firepit for the patio
  • Used firepit to have smores
  • The storm from hell dumped a bunch of water in our basement
  • We spent many nights and days pushing, sucking and pumping water out of our basement
  • We stained/treated our deck while they visited
  • We learned how to change out a toilet
  • We figured out how our water pipes were run
  • We painted the white part of our green bathroom
  • We got the bulk of the unpacking done
  • We had a rare 90 degree day
  • The house started to feel like home
  • AJ visited
  • The star magnolia started to bloom
  • The spring bulbs came up (hyacinths, daffodils)
  • Cooper visited for the first time
  • We learned we had two dead trees on our property
  • TA’d one of my advisor’s classes.


  • We learned about burning permits/permission
  • We loved the birds
  • I spent some time fighting weeds
  • Bear’s birthday gift was cleaned baseboard radiator fins
  • A little bird made her nest off our deck
  • Something ate the baby chicks in the nest
  • Spent a lot of time pimping out our old apartment


  • Cooper brought his family over to visit us
  • Linda gets nicknamed
  • Mr and Mrs Right threw a “get to meet the new neighbors” for us
  • I got new glasses and got contacts
  • The peonies started to bloom
  • Cooper cut down a lot of the yard in our yard until it looked like a yard instead of a jungle
  • Bear put together a planter box for me


  • Mr Bestie and Mrs Cranberry got married, twice
  • Bear and I got new clothes for the weekend of wedding stuff
  • Bear stressed about the weekend of wedding stuff
  • Bear stressed about my mom coming to stay for a month
  • I stressed
  • Bear got some work news
  • My mom came to stay for a month


  • My father came to visit
  • Bear got my mom HOOKED on Animal Crossing
  • My mom sliced open her finger
  • I found out where the hospital is by my house
  • I found the shortest route to said hospital too
  • My mom got eight? stitches in her hand
  • I showed my mom how to comb fiber
  • Bear had job continuity issues
  • We planted the extra tomato plants
  • I got about 16 migraines
  • We had money issues
  • We had people getting pissed at us (me) issues.
  • We rented a tiller
  • We used a tiller
  • BEAR used a tiller
  • My mother left after staying for a month
  • I got a new spinning wheel
  • I felt a lot better


  • My tomato plants became blighted
  • I finished and mailed the way way way overdue legwarmers for Pippi and Lucy. Although Lucy and The General might be wearing them.
  • Some leaves on our trees start turning colors
  • We replaced our boiler and converted to propane.
  • We played SC2
  • We paid someone to remove the oil boiler
  • We regretted it.


  • We started off the month with visiting my family in HOU
  • I had lunch with Bear and his old work peeps! It was awesome.
  • I spun a lot
  • I got these NASTY caterpillars that ate through my tomatoes
  • I gave up on my garden
  • We fed Mr and Mrs Right tbone steaks
  • We fed Left ackee and saltfish and then about 5 months later found out that she thought she was eating eggs.
  • We had weird sleep this month and I can’t remember anything else about it.
  • Hopefully we saved money


  • Bear and I started visiting Mr and Mrs Right about once a week for a coke (Bear) and a chat
  • We raked leaves. Because there were MASSES of them.
  • Bear surprised me and paid someone to come take care of the nasty nasty mess on our basement floor
  • Bear and I had the ickies.
  • I napped a lot
  • Bear and I worked our tuchuses off at work
  • My mom had surgery
  • Brain went and visited her for me.


  • We raked 50 BILLION more leaves.
  • Hypothetical BABY ASP!
  • I blogged every FREAKING day except Sunday because I love Linda THAT much.
  • Mr and Mrs Right came over and saved our tuchuses with their Kubota right before Thanksgiving
  • During Thanksgiving break my aunt and uncle came to visit
  • We cooked them turkey
  • I drove to the middle of nowhere to get farm raised turkey
  • I spent hours on the internet finding farm raised turkey
  • I failed to get a heritage turkey
  • I was chastised for not finding the Fkajofwijefoiwje heritage turkey
  • Apparently I should have gotten on the list 50 years ahead of time for this akofwjieofnoviwe heritage turkey
  • Thanksgiving was awesome despite the lack of kjowinefoiwefn heritage turkey
  • We put up leaf guards on our gutters
  • My awesome uncle cleaned our our gutters
  • My awesome uncle replaced a rotted board on our deck
  • My awesome aunt and uncle made ramps for the doors in the basement so now you don’t have to step up/down 2 feet
  • I gots me some new shoes
  • Bear and I watched Sherlock and White Collar in extreme fashion
  • the fall foliage was GORGEOUS
  • Gilligan and I started a love affair with Ira Glass. She started it
  • Brain said my brain was greasy
  • Apparently I remember a ton of shit when I blog every day.
  • Bear used his grill to cook stuff in a pot.
  • We moved the TV and the couches and the internet and the wiring for the house bc my aunt and uncle are AWESOME


  • I was a little blue after my family left
  • We turned on the Christmas lights at the front of our house
  • I had some awesome days working from home. Productive and comforting days
  • I started a new project at work
  • I read The Help by Katherine Stockett
  • Bear got me grownup luggage
  • I spent some time figuring out Christmas gifts for family members
  • I spent some time fighting with family members about gifts for other family members
  • Mrs Right took Bear and I to the airport at 430 in the morning!
  • I went home and had a great time connecting to my family as a whole
  • I saw Bear’s mom and his brother
  • Bear had a decadent break with his mom and brother
  • We got a huge snowstorm at the house while we were gone.
  • Mr Right used his snowblower and went out there and made it look like we were home.
  • We really do love our neighbors.