'She-Hulk': How Marvel's first half-hour sitcom draws influence from 'Ally McBeal' and 'Legally Blonde'

WandaVision may have regularly spoofed classic American sitcoms, but Marvel is billing its next and eighth Disney+ series as its first actual half-hour comedy.

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law stars Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black) as Jennifer Walters, a lawyer specializing in superhuman cases and cousin of Mark Ruffalo's Bruce Banner, who also finds herself going green after she's accidentally cross-contaminated with his blood.

Scenes from the series' first trailer may recall another legal comedy, the late-'90s Calista Flockhart-starring Ally McBeal. That's no accident, according to director Kat Coiro.

"Ally McBeal was absolutely a reference for this show," Coiro tells Yahoo Entertainment during interviews following Marvel's eventful San Diego Comic-Con presentation on Saturday. "And so it was always about finding that balance between making a half-hour comedy, which is a new genre for the MCU, and still feeling like we fit into the universe that has been created."

"Marvel's Ally McBeal" isn't exactly the company line, though.

"What's funny is in the writer's room, the entire time we wrote on the show, we never once referenced Ally McBeal," says series creator and head writer Jessica Gao, who instead cites Fleabag, Better Call Saul and even The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.

Tatiana Maslany in 'She-Hulk: Attorney at Law' (Disney/Marvel)
Tatiana Maslany in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law. (Photo: Disney/Marvel)

Maslany admits she's never even seen Ally McBeal. "I have watched Legally Blonde," she says. "For me that's a reference… It's Marvel's Legally Blonde."

The 36-year-old Emmy-winning actress best known for playing a ridiculously wide-ranging swath of roles on Orphan Black gets to flex her comedic chops for the first time in She-Hulk.

"I've always loved comedy, and I've always been drawn to it, I've just never gotten to do it, really," Maslany says.

Color her colleagues impressed.

"She has all of the range, and she's left none of it for the rest of us," says Jameela Jamil (The Good Place), who costars as She-Hulk's rival Titania.

"Tatiana is one of the best actors of our generation," gushes director Anu Valia. "She's so good. I could talk about her for so long. She's just a comedic genius."

— Video produced by Jen Kucsak and edited by Jimmie Rhee

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law premieres on Aug. 17 on Disney+.

Watch the trailer: