Ally McBeal (1997–2002)
When Ally McBeal premiered in 1997 on FOX, Kelley was also shepherding his other two shows, Chicago Hope and The Practice, although he was not actively participating in Chicago Hope at the time. The title character Ally is a young, attractive, impulsive, Harvard-educated lawyer described by a New York Times journalist as "stylish, sexy, smart, opinionated, and an emotional wreck." In contrast to The Practice and its idealistic lawyers, the law firm in Ally McBeal was founded only to make money.
The New York Times felt that the show uniquely emphasised "character and caricature". The show lasted five seasons, seven Emmys (one for Outstanding Comedy Series for its second season), mostly positive reviews and a barrage of criticism for its portrayal of women, with many journalists saying that the character Ally was a giant step backwards.
Parallel to The Practice, Kelley penned all the scripts for the first season, then brought in other writers in subsequent years although he continued to write many episodes himself.