“Bob Hearts Abishola” Stars and Creative Team Take Time to Reflect as Series Comes to an End (Plus Photos from the Set)

“A cursory look at this country makes it very plain and simple to see that immigrants make the country great,” said Bob Hearts Abishola executive producer Chuck Lorre during a TCA set visit to the Warner Bros. Studio lot. The hit CBS sitcom kicked off its fifth season last week, improving on the previous season’s premiere broadcast by 17%. And yet, it’s the beginning of the end, with CBS announcing that this is the end of the road for the series on their network, with just twelve episodes remaining. For the cast and creative team, it was a bittersweet moment to pause and reflect. “Writing about it every week and portraying the extraordinary commitment, and hard work, and determination of new immigrants is joyful. It’s a joyful thing to do, to try and tell that story as best we can.”

(Evans Vestal Ward/WBTVG)

(Evans Vestal Ward/WBTVG)

“I was in a place with my health that I needed to make a severe change,” explained Billy Gardell, who plays Bob and is almost unrecognizable from his previous Chuck Lorre sitcom, Mike & Molly. The series began with Bob having a heart attack, which initiated his meet-cute with Abishola, a nurse. It helped give Billy the push to change his lifestyle, and he’s in a much better place for it now. “The idea that this guy had a heart attack at the beginning of the show and was going to get healthy anyway really lined up with where I was in my life. I hadn't had a heart attack yet, but I was running in the red as they say in the hot rod business. So, I had to make that change, and they couldn't have been more supportive about that in the way they put it in the script. But subtly. Not banging you over the head, like ‘Bob’s eating right, hey, Bob you're looking all right.’ They just let me take that journey with the audience, and I'm incredibly grateful for it.”

“We get a lot of photos of Bobs and Abisholas around the world,” shared Fọlákẹ́ Olówófôyekù, who plays Abishola. The series has touched a lot of people, which has prompted them to submit fanmail or reach out on social media. “Most especially is the portrayal of Nigerians for the first time in a positive light, as human beings. That’s the biggest impact. That’s the biggest feedback that I get. ‘Thank you for portraying us in such a positive way. Thank you for being authentic to the Nigerian woman’s experience. Thank you for having an accurate accent.’ That’s a big thing. As a Nigerian girl, I was offended by quite a few productions that depicted us like caricatures that didn’t have the appropriate language. Even though the character was being displayed as Nigerian, they didn’t have the proper accents. So, the authenticity is also something that’s being celebrated as well.” The show has also saved a few lives, with an episode featuring Abishola identifying the signs of a stroke educating viewers about what to look for.

“I just wanted to create something where you got to see us as people,” explained Gina Yashere, one of the series’ co-creators, executive producers, writers, and a member of the cast as Kemi. She was living in England when she received a call from Chuck Lorre to come to LA to help develop the show, and she quickly became an invaluable member of the team. “It was basically just seeing us as characters, as people, and not just jokes and not just flat images. And I feel like doing that is opening the doors, and now we’re getting a lot more shows like that where it's not like, ‘Oh, it's a Black show, it's a this show, it's an Indian show.’ It’s just a show with people with different cultures. And I think just by virtue, the fact that the show is on CBS, which is not the most multicultural and young audience in the world, and it's become so popular and people really love the show, just goes to show that once you put a good product out there with fantastic characters, it doesn't matter. And that was what was important to me.”

While the end is near, the cast admitted that they don’t know how the series will end, and the creative team shared that they’re still figuring that out. “You treat these characters like real people, and so you don't complete their lives, you don't try to tie a bow on it,” executive producer and writer Matt Ross said. “We get our little windows into these moments, and there could be fifty more stories to tell. It's not our job to say, ‘And bon voyage, they're done learning, and they're done being interesting.’ It's our job to have fun with them and to entertain the audience as long as we have the privilege to do so.”

Audiences have the privilege of watching new episodes of Bob Hearts Abishola on Mondays at 8:30/7:30c on CBS, and streaming live and on-demand on Paramount+. The previous four seasons are also available to stream on Max. And now, a few more photos from the set.

Alex Reif
Alex joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and has been a lifelong Disney fan. His main beats for LP are Disney-branded movies, TV shows, books, music and toys. He recently became a member of the Television Critics Association (TCA).