Season 1, Episode 1
Date of airing: September 23, 2019 (CBS)
Nielsen ratings information: 5.886 million viewers, 3.7/7 in Households, 0.9/4 with Adults 18-49, 0.5/3 with Adults 18-34, 1.4/5 with Adults 25-54
Chuck Lorre’s sitcoms never stuck with me for some reason. TWO AND A HALF MEN I’ve tried to tackle multiple times, but Charlie Sheen always alienated me, especially when he turned all crazy on his tiger blood and gave the American entertainment industry something to worry about in a rather teasing moment of what’s to happen after November 2016. I was never a fan of THE BIG BANG THEORY and never went past the first couple of episodes of the show. MIKE & MOLLY (which Lorre did not create, only wrote on) I gave up watching pretty quickly because my interest in things with Melissa McCarthy was falling off a cliff. MOM had a very interesting premise and a great cast, but elements of it never intrigued me, so I stopped watching that one, too. From the 1990s, GRACE UNDER FIRE is definitely on my to-do list, but while I’m currently somewhat obsessed over 90s shows at the moment, I haven’t found the opportunity to get into Lorre’s second-ever show he created. BOB HEARTS ABISHOLA could change things for me, because the third broadcast network pilot of the 2019/2020 season has made the connection with me and I will plan to watch the second episode. Not because the pilot was super fun or incredibly charming, but because Abishola and her portrayer Folake Olowofoyeku could turn out to be one of the most surprising things about this season, and I would love to follow up on that and see her rising in the business and winning a couple of awards the next year.
Not that I’m saying that Olowofoyeku is going to win the Golden Globe in January and the Emmy in September, but as long as the show stays where it is and doesn’t drive itself over another cliff with ridiculous storylines and punchline humor, then the character of Abishola could turn out to be revolutionary for broadcast network television, and that is usually the first step towards becoming a nominee in whatever awards ceremony that has been watching this show. Abishola is almost not ready to be part of a multicamera sitcom, but here she is, grounding the show in reality that I wasn’t expecting from a Chuck Lorre show (and yes, I know I haven’t seen more than 25 episodes of Chuck Lorre shows in my life) and giving BOB HEARTS ABISHOLA a hyper realistic touch that I hope will be part of the show for episodes to come. In sitcoms that deal with a central romantic pairing, I’m expecting for the two main characters to get together quickly so that the writers can get into the domestic sitcom stuff, but I don’t even see that happening here. Bob might be in love with his cardiac nurse, but the thing is he just likes her in this episode because she was nice to him and not because she is the greatest thing that ever happened to him. That must not mean “let’s get married in episode four,” although Bob and Abishola are certainly allowed to get to know each other, fall in love and then start a romantic relationship that will weird out their respective families, because they never had to deal with someone from a different race. The writers should take the entire season to play with that premise, it would just hurt the show when they bring the two titular characters together this quickly and have a domestic relationship be established after a handful of episodes. Sometimes there is an idea behind following a couple forming over many months and maybe a year. Look at Mark Greene and Elizabeth Corday during season five of ER — they were around each other for half a season, establishing a repertoire and personas for each other before the writers finally brought them together over the final episodes of that season. It made for a realistic portrayal of two people becoming a pair, and all I want is to see that again.
And there is a good chance that Bob and Abishola will take a little while to go on their first date together. He has a business to run and expand (judging by his disappointment that none of the hospital staff members were wearing his socks), and she is dealing with her potentially unruly son who is about to fight just for the heck of it, turning into a realistic teenager learning what life really is about by not giving a damn about it. He is dealing with a family who probably pressures him to perform in the job, while she is about to deal with a family who is pressuring her into living an American life, making a typical American decision about who to date, and becoming more … American in the progress. Those stories could quickly turn into character arcs and become more important than the actual blossoming romance between Bob and Abishola, which is one of the reasons why I liked this episode from the beginning. It wasn’t necessarily out to couple up the two, and it instead focused on individual storylines for the two that have nothing to do with the other person.
Here is to hoping that Bob and Abishola’s families will get some character depth and meaningful storylines as well. Matt Jones could definitely disappear right now, since he was one of the elements in MOM that chased me away from that show, but there could be something wonderful about a stereotypical American family become friends with an immigrant family from Nigeria, building bridges that will lead to two cultures understanding each other a little more, which could turn BOB HEARTS ABISHOLA into a parable of what real life could look like if it weren’t for the super racist president in the Oval Office right now. One thing is for sure, conservatives and right-wing nuts won’t like this show, which could make Chuck Lorre one of the most progressive writers on television during this season — which is a thing I can’t even believe I just wrote down.