Monday, November 16, 2020

REVIEW: 'Bob Hearts Abishola' - Bob and Abishola Have Different Ideas About Their Future Together in 'On a Dead Guy's Bench'

CBS' Bob Hearts Abishola - Episode 2.01 "On a Dead Guy's Bench"

Bob enlists Tunde's help to buy an engagement ring, but his plans to propose to Abishola are upended by her belief that a traditional marriage is more trouble than it's worth.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the season premiere of CBS' Bob Hearts Abishola.

"On a Dead Guy's Bench" was directed by Beth McCarthy-Miller with story by Chuck Lorre, Al Higgins & Nathan Chetty and teleplay by Gina Yashere, Matt Ross & Ibet Inyang

Bob and Abishola are engaged. That's the note the show wishes to strike immediately in its second season. It sets the template for what the audience should expect this year. It's a somewhat familiar structural device. The audience can probably guess that the ups and downs of the season will come from the two of them planning their wedding. However, this show will have a unique approach to that concept because of how original its characters are. Abishola and her family have never had such prominence in this kind of story before. As such, the normality and simplicity of it all carry a nice charm to it. The show grew incredibly strong and comfortable with itself as the first season went along. It eventually struck the right sweet tone for its stories while still painting a number of its characters in broad strokes. Everyone basically has their plot functions in the show that they never totally break free from. Some are more successful than others. It's always so much fun to see the wild adventures Dottie, Olu and Tunde get into - largely at the expense of Bob and Abishola. Goodwin and Kofo provide some natural comedic relief at MaxDot headquarters. They work in that setting much better than Bob's siblings. Douglas and Christina are still incredibly forced and broad. Gloria and Kemi operate in a similar way for Abishola in her work environment. The show has a structure and it never really wants to push those boundaries all that far. That's understandable. It can grew boring and repetitive. However, the show makes it easy to invest in Bob and Abishola as a couple. This season can allow them to be stable for a little bit. They are making this commitment to one another. Abishola would be happy to spend the rest of her life with Bob. She doesn't need to marry him. She makes that decision because she knows just how difficult the process can be in the Nigerian culture. She is still married to Dele's father as well. It will be complicated to get a divorce. She hopes her family in Nigeria will support Bob. That is important for her. Hopefully, this means the show will get to cast more of Abishola's extended family this season. It may even mean the characters travel to Nigeria. That will provide some necessary perspective for Bob as to how different the world can actually be. All cultures should be loving and accepting though. That remains at the heart of this series. Abishola may fear the risk involved with marriage. She doesn't want to risk everything just to embrace the relationship she has with Bob fully. It works for her as it currently is. That should be good enough. Olu and Tunde are obviously excited. It's joyous to see Tunde haggle to get a good price on the engagement ring. Sure, that's a device that the premiere goes to one too many times. It works in the opening scene. The final laugh is solid too. It's just weird that Bob returns the ring in the middle when Abishola turns down his proposal. It means there is no ring when Bob and Abishola eventually agree that marriage is something both of them want once more. It may be nothing more than symbolic. And yet, they see that kind of love in the world and actually want it in theirs. That's sweet. Plus, it happening on the bus instead of the bench is a nice way to subvert expectations based on what the audience knows about this relationship. Again, the tone is just right for the audience to be reassured about this couple despite the comedic and narrative hurdles that are now standing in their way. The setup is easy. The audience can recognize it as such. But again, the specificity of it all is on point. That makes this story feel like a refreshing take. Yes, more depth and nuance is still necessary in the ensemble. However, the show earns a handful of laughs each week while ensuring the central romance is earned. That makes this a show that is worth viewing for another season to see just how further it can go in embracing and normalizing this romance.