It’s easy (and fun) to criticise Chuck Lorre sitcoms, but not everything he’s ever produced has been overtly annoying idiocy, just about 78% of his work. But Mom is a surprising gem that six seasons in is still extremely fun, and a very rare example of a network sitcom where there’s six female leads and only one male cast member, and Lorre was partially responsible for Roseanne as well.
Of course Chuck Lorre is often only one of many involved in the creation of a show (or the last link when money / status is required) and Bob Hearts Abishola is no exception as it’s from Al Higgins (Malcolm In The Middle, other Lorre sitcoms), Eddie Gorodetsky (Creator of Mom) and Gina Yashere (best known in the UK as a fairly weak stand up), I have to confess to being no fan of Yashere but the other two have pretty decent comedy cv’s, which suggested that this series would be one of Lorre’s better efforts.
Judging from the pilot it is, too. It’s by no means perfect and there’s no question about the fact that it’s a mainstream network multi-camera affair and you won’t mistake it for the sort of hyper real comedy you sometimes find on FX or Comedy Central, but it does at least tackle a number of different subjects and isn’t just jokes about, say, Charlie Sheen fucking people, or nerds saying nerdish things in a tedious and over the top manner.
It starts in a fairly brutal manner too with Bob (Billy Gardell) having a heart attack and being rushed in to hospital, though this is a sitcom heart attack so he’s able to chat quite happily, and there’s a fart gag in the opening minute which is never a good sign, and which made me wonder if this was going to be a disappointing mess. Fortunately it improves fairly quickly after this, mainly as it introduces Abishola (Folake Olowofoyeku), a nurse who is plain speaking and not taking any nonsense from Bob, happily telling him that his attempt at flirtation / humour wasn’t funny at all.
Because it moves at a decent pace the next thing we know Bob is back at work, where he sells socks for a living and is something of an expert in them. His family also are part of the company (including former Mom actor Matt Jones who’s always a reliable presence), they don’t get a huge amount to do in the pilot but their characters are introduced well and there seems potential for some strong gags about them. The same of which applies with Abishola’s family, who are all paranoid when Bob visits Abishola at home after bribing a nurse for her address, because this is a terrifying world we live in.
As well as a good few more jokes about socks (which are funnier than I’ve made sound) we get to see Abishola’s son in trouble after being called a racial slur, it’s a storyline which is given relatively short shrift but at least it shows that the series is prepared to take on more complex themes, and the same applies with Abishola’s reaction to a shitty Doctor who declares a patient dead without seeming to care. Of course there’s still some more average gags concerning Bob’s obsession with Abishola, and a couple of fat jokes which are just lazy and tiresome, but at least it’s a sitcom trying to do something a little different and for that it should be applauded.
How the rest of the season will pan out is difficult to predict though I imagine they’ll do the “Will they / Won’t they” thing for most of it before Bob and Abishola inevitably get together. But hopefully while doing the odd couple romance thing it will continue to tackle interesting themes and ideas and not just result to lazy tropes like too many Chuck Lorre sitcoms have in the past, and if it does do this then it’ll be a sitcom on CBS other than Mom which is worth checking out.