Join us as we review the CBS sitcom, Bob Hearts Abishola, on The Pilot Podcast. We meet Bob, the successful owner of a sock company and his new crush, Abishola, a Nigerian nurse in Detroit. Can these two polar opposites come together and form a couple? Are Bob’s feelings even genuine? Also, how badly does Abishola need some good socks?
Bob Hearts Abishola is a love story about a middle-aged compression sock businessman from Detroit who unexpectedly falls for his cardiac nurse, a Nigerian immigrant, while recovering from a heart attack and sets his sights on winning her over. Undaunted by Abishola's lack of initial interest or the vast differences in their backgrounds, Bob is determined to win Abishola's heart, in this comedic examination of immigrant life in America.
Special thanks to our friend and editor, Ronnie, from Bristol Pod Works
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Welcome to The Pilot Podcast!
Where we watch the pilot episodes of TV shows and recap other shows to answer your question: should I watch this?
My name is BJ.
And my name is Mitu.
And this week we're checking out the new CBS sitcom, Bob Hearts Abishola.
So stay tuned to the end to find out if BJ has ever been swept off his feet.
Never. I've never felt love.
No, BJ, I love you. And if I were a sock CEO, I would give you all the socks you ever wanted.
So you would bribe my coworker to get my address come to my door and hand my family a bag of socks?
Well, more like I would just give you all the socks you ever wanted.
Okay, well, how about you explain what happened in this first episode?
Well, we open with Bob, the protagonist of the show, experiencing a heart attack in this pilot episode. And the premise of the show is as he's recovering from this heart attack, he receives help from this nurse Abishola and ends up falling for her. And I think is experiencing some level of escapism because she is so different from his family. The other central characters of the show our Dottie, his mother, Douglas, his brother, who's actually played by Matt Jones, known for another Chuck Lorre show, Mom, and Christina, his sister. And they all work together at MaxDot, which is Bob's compression sock manufacturing company. And then we have Abishola, the nurse and her family. She lives with her aunt Olu, her uncle Tunde and her son Dele. And she also has Gloria, her best friend, who is one of the nurses at the hospital where she works as well as Kemi her other best friend. So in this pilot episode, we see Bob trying to sweep Abhishola off of her cheaply soft feet and trying to outfit her friends and family in high quality compression socks.
So I think the main question is, do you think that they should get together? Or do you think Bob has kind of confused his feelings for love?
Oh, that's a deep question at the crux of the entire show. Because my initial impression, and we'll see if the show changes my mind, is he's coming out of something as traumatic as a heart attack. He literally sees her first as he comes out of his recovery from his surgery. And she's surrounded by light, which is the lamp that was behind her head. And so she's almost like an angel to him. And she's so different from his family, which is a point of stress in his life. I can imagine he might think he loves her or cares for her but really, it's just some level of infatuation or even escapism because she's so different from his family. Because there's a scene toward the beginning of the episode where she helps them to the bathroom and she sings this song so he feels comfortable enough to use the restroom in front of him. And it's this Nigerian lullaby, I believe sung in, I think she's Yoruba. Later when his family is acting up at the office, and they're all yelling, being super annoying, he thinks of that song. And that seems to spark some of his greater obsession toward Abishola. So I don't know. I don't know if it's real love. But the show is literally called Bob Hearts Abishola. So maybe it becomes real love. The jury is still out.
True. There's a lot of questions behind Bob's feelings for her. And it definitely is a one sided relationship. Abishola does not heart Bob, in this first episode, at least.
I think she's amused by him.
Yeah, he's entertaining. I'm sure it's flattering to have a suitor. She clearly likes these socks. So she keeps getting free socks. So why not take advantage of that? I do think that there is the potential where because her best friend mentioned she is getting older and she does have a son, she might want someone who can provide some extra stability. So right now she's living with her aunt and uncle, but I can imagine she might want her own place with her and her son. And whether or not Bob is someone she loves, he is someone who could provide some financial benefits that could benefit not only her but also her child.
So your team Abishola getting that money?
I'm saying go on a few dates, see if you can tolerate him, and just consider the money for your child.
What is marriage but a contract?
And maybe they don't even have to get married.
Don't lock yourself in unless there's no prenup. Actually look up the laws in Michigan, and then decide if marriage is a good option.
How did you feel about their dynamic generally? Because my concern going into the show, was it was going to be like we're these kooky Midwest people and they're those far out there West Africans.
Their dynamic was what I expected, where I felt like there was a wall between them. Where he doesn't understand her and she doesn't get why he's doing what he's doing. And I think that has to do with them first meeting. So once they warm up to each other, spend some more time together, they'll loosen up and have a more natural relationship or better banter because they still feel like strangers in a sense.
They are strangers. That's why they feel that way.
Yes, they are still strangers.
So you feel like there's a wall between them? Do you think there's a chance of breaching that wall? Is that the point of the show, immigrants, they're just like us, we all have family troubles. One of the things that Bob and Abishola connected on, for example, was the fact that they're both highly annoyed by their families. Are we going to find some bridges over that wall, if you will?
Yeah, I think think the whole premise for this first season at least is going to be Bob and Abishola finding common ground and that's what they're going to bond over. Where they're gonna say, oh, we actually do have stuff in common and oh, you're actually going through things I understand. I think one of the other problems with this pilot episode is that Bob's storyline and Abishola's storyline were so distinct and separate and that it didn't feel like they were the main characters together. Yeah, it felt like just to plot lines and then every now and then they bump into each other over some socks.
Maybe as the show progresses, those lines will cross a bit more.
Hopefully, I think their chemistry is the foundation or should be the foundation of the show.
It's also important to point out that Chuck Lorre is behind this show and he is behind Mom, Big Bang Theory and other iconic comedy shows that are sitcoms, multi-cam, involve a soundstage, and live audience contribution but also is someone who blends sitcoms with heavy topics. On Big Bang Theory, much like with Bob Hearts Abishola, they dealt a lot with the topics of crossing cultural boundaries, clashes of culture, even nerd culture outside of people's racial or ethnic backgrounds. And they also dealt with the topics of loneliness quite often. And then on the show Mom, you get more of that conversation around loneliness, as well as being unafraid on a network sitcom to talk about substance use issues and addiction, and how that can really greatly affect you and your family. On Mom, there are literally characters who do not speak to some of their family members anymore because of their struggles with substance use. All that to say, he's not afraid of going there but then in this journey to the metaphorical "there," finding some laughs along the way.
So do you think Bob Hearts Abishola is CBS's next breakout sitcom that can really last? Because one of the prominent things about Chuck Lorre's resume is that his shows go on for seasons and seasons and seasons.
I don't know. So I think it's funny, and I can understand why this show would be really funny to the CBS audience. But I don't know how relatable a show about a Nigerian family is to the typical CBS viewer. So there's value in doing some teaching, but I don't know if it's the same as like a Mom or a Big Bang Theory, where those are majority white American casts.
Yeah, this is a break away from tradition. So I guess it's good that CBS is taking some baby steps to improve representation on network television. But it's hard to guess now how wide the appeal will be because I don't think we are the target audience either.
No. They do have a Nigerian British comedian who writes for the show, Gina Yashere. She actually plays Kemi, Abishola's best friend on the show as well. And I think we have her to thank for some of the more quote unquote authentically Nigerian moments of the show. So we have conversations in Yoruba., which is really cool. We have conversations about Nigerian culture, we have conversations about Nigerian food. And it's also cool that they don't stop to necessarily explain what's happening. You either know or you don't. But I don't know how that would play for the larger CBS audience because there was also a moment that I didn't love. And I'm not sure if I'm misinterpreting this, but the audience laughed as soon as Bob started speaking Mandarin to the manufacturer in China, who was speaking Mandarin back to him, the representative from the manufacturer. And people laughed as soon as he started speaking Mandarin and I couldn't tell if the joke was what he was saying or the fact that this business person spoke Mandarin.
You don't find foreign languages funny?
Surprisingly enough, BJ, they are not inherently funny to me.
Interesting, so I can see why you didn't laugh with the laugh time.
I noticed that you didn't laugh either because we watched literally together
Correct, I didn't think it was funny. I also was thrown off, I think the very first time we heard the laugh track in the beginning. I'm used to the laugh track not reflecting what I think is funny in the majority of shows with the laugh track.
Fair, I guess I was more prepared for it because when I saw Chuck Lori's name, I assumed this is going to be a show with a laugh track.
That's smart. Context clues.
With the show to there are some cultural discussions about the diaspora and people of African descent. We already see some budding conversations of black American versus black immigrant, and I'm not in love with those conversations and how they're framed.
Yeah, it was very much one side is going to be more successful. One side has more respect for people. And that was a little concerning.
A little? [laughter] Just a smidge.
There's levels of concern, you know. Wasn't a nuclear bomb but...
It's not Threat Level Midnight.
And obviously those types of butting of head between groups, those particular groups of black people are happening. It just kind of sucks that that was like a plot point in this episode. So this all centered around Abishola's son getting in a fight at school, and he could have gotten in a fight with someone else and it didn't have to be about race.
Both ways so the race issue went both ways.
Yes. And in one of the reviews I read, it sounds like they keep this conversation up in still this not great framing, and I hope that if they truly want to pursue talking about differing outcomes, or treatments, or whatever, of people in the diaspora and black Americans, then I hope that they offer so much more nuance. Just take a second to do some googling. It doesn't have to be like this.
And even some things as simple as you don't have to be a doctor to be successful.
Oh, yeah, we can start there. The GPA of your child should not determine how they are punished. I did not like that.
They were very much using essentially your resume, your report card as a way of determining who is more mature, more successful, in the right, even better than others, which is a very dangerous take, especially when you're comparing children.
Chuck Lorre is clearly trying to use this show to depict immigrants in a positive light. The closing image of the show is Chuck Lorre productions as a banner. And the image above it is a yellow ball cap with IMAG written on it, which is Immigrants Make America Great. Which that statement in itself, something we could talk about. And apparently he wore that hat to a showing and was excited to talk about it. But I hope that they don't use that, to try to do what has been done before, which is positioning immigrants against ethnic minorities native to the US, like black Americans and being like, why can't you be like them? Why can't you be like them? And doing that positioning of groups against each other. Because putting one person down is not how you highlight another person.
Exactly. We can bring up the differences between all these different groups.
We can celebrate our differences.
Yeah, celebrate the differences, educate people on the differences without ranking and comparing the differences.
So I hope that that's not where this show is going is these black immigrants are fabulous. So these black Americans, y'all better learn to do better, because look at these hard working black immigrants whose productivity is making America great.
And then there's the Chinese company making our compression socks, or selling out and going to Nike.
That was a weird line to where they said that their company had suicide nets before Apple. So he runs a sweatshop. Right?
I forgot about that. That was dark. It seems like a small operation in Detroit.
Yeah, they contract a sweatshop.
Yeah, they definitely are aware of what's going on in the facilities that manufacture these socks
Because in the beginning of the episode, he mentioned to Abishola that her socks were cheaply made Vietnamese socks that become loose or lose their grip after one wash versus his socks were quality made. And I thought that the show was going to use that as an opportunity to be like buy union Made in America products. But no.
I was like, oh we're going to talk about labor but no. A girl could hope. Especially in Michigan.
Yeah, I would have been a great time to be like look, these compression socks are made in Detroit. So what did you think of the acting by the cast? Did anyone stand out to you?
The auntie and uncle, Olu and Tunde, absolutely stood out. Oh, Barry Henley place Tunde, and I would suggest you do a quick google of his life and career listeners. He is a legendary actor, actually from Louisiana, so he's just such fabulous comedic relief. And then same with her Auntie Olu. She is played by Shola Adewusi. She, to me is best known for lots of acting roles in British shows, but also from her role in Chewing Gum. She is so funny on that show. Actually, if you're looking for a show made by African diaspora, that's really funny, maybe just tiptoe on over to Netflix and watch Chewing Gum. That show is good.
It's funny. How did you feel about the acting on the show?
I feel like it was acceptable. No one stood out. But I think the storyline also didn't give them enough to work with.
And this may be more of an editing thing that worked against the cast is that there were so many transitions and even really short scenes that I felt like we were constantly going from one thing to another and cutting back and forth and we never really got settled and kind of get to know the characters better.
True. Not only did it feel like Bob and Abishola were in totally separate stories that progressed on their own and they some times intersected with each other. But then on top of that their own stories felt like little vignettes,
Which I think worked against them. It's an interesting choice though.
It felt a bit disjointed.
So on that note about we go into our final thoughts on the show.
Alright, Beej. What would you rate CBS's Bob Hearts Abishola?
I would unfortunately rate this would not watch again.
I really like what they're trying to do but this pilot really didn't grab me. And unless I really have some strong reason to come back to it, I think I'm out. So Mitu, how do you feel about it?
I also didn't love this pilot episode. I wouldn't say I'm a strictly a would not watch again as BJ. Because there were still some jokes here. There are still some funny moments. But if I happen to catch this show on again, because I'm somewhere below would watch again casually, and it still has these uncomfortable moments where it's hitting African Diaspora against black Africans are continuing to use languages as a butt of a joke. I don't know that I can keep buying into it. Like you said, BJ. I appreciate the grander mission of the show. And if it's able to educate the primetime CBS audience, and then great. But I don't think I am in need of that education.
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