Chuck Lorre and CBS surprised many back in 2010 when Mike and Molly premiered. Many doubted that a sitcom starring two overweight characters could ever succeed. In the end, the show ran for six seasons and made Melissa McCarthy and Billy Gardell household names. Since then, McCarthy has done very well for herself starring in numerous movies. Gardell has appeared recently in many episodes of Young Sheldon and now he’s back with a new series and falling in love once more in Bob ♥ Abishola. And people are questioning the show’s success once again.
Honestly, until I watched the pilot episode, I thought Gardell’s character’s last name was Abishola not realizing that the heart symbol was actually an emoji, not just a decorative element. Not only is the show’s title unusual, but so is the premise. The show begins with Bob being rushed to the hospital having a heart attack. When he awakes, he meets his cardiac nurse Abishola (Folake Olowofoyeku), a Nigerian immigrant. Bob seems unfazed by his heart condition but is mesmerized by the way Abishola says his name.
Soon, the middle-aged man becomes chatty telling his nurse all about his compression sock business. He’s very proud of his socks which surprisingly becomes a running joke throughout the episode. In a matter of minutes, it becomes clear that Mike is falling for her, but Abishola isn’t interested. When he unexpectedly shows up at her home to thank her for his care while in the hospital, she rebuffs him. She has no interest in this strange man, but it becomes clear that Bob is determined to win her over.
In addition to the main couple, we are also introduced to the families of both Mike and Abishola. Bob’s sock business is a family affair that he runs with his mother Dottie (Christine Ebersole), sister Christina (Maribeth Monroe) and dumb brother Douglas (Matt Jones). They’re all obnoxious and not very likable, at least not in the pilot. When they speak, it sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard.
Abishola’s family is better and includes Auntie Olu (Shola Adewusi), Uncle Tunde (Barry Shabaka Henley) and son Dele (Travis Wolfe, Jr.). When Mike visits their home, auntie and uncle think that he’s with immigration and are afraid of him. They soon warm up when they see that he has brought socks for them to try.
The pilot episode of Bob ♥ Abishola is a little clunky. Trying to introduce us to every character in the series in its first short twenty-something minutes of air time is a tough challenge. The pilot doesn’t offer a lot of time to develop their characters much. However, the show’s overall premise of two worlds colliding (much like Lorre’s earlier show, Dharma and Greg) is intriguing. Mike is lovable and a softie; Abishola is tough but refined. The show feels timely without being politically correct or trying to make a statement. Its only real downfall is Bob’s mustache. I’m curious to see where this story goes from here.
Bob ♥ Abishola premieres on Monday, September 23 at 8:30 p.m. on CBS. (Photo credit: Michael Yarish/CBS)
I write about arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.