Why Bob Hearts Abishola's Chuck Lorre Doesn't Think About Viewers When Creating Shows

chuck lorre bob hearts abishola tca 2019
(Image credit: Monty Brinton / CBS Press)

When it comes to TV legacies, Chuck Lorre has certainly carved out a distinct trail over the course of his career, which arguably peaked with the highest-viewed seasons of CBS' The Big Bang Theory. Lorre has a new network effort with the comedy Bob Hearts Abishola, which he co-created with former Mike & Molly writers and producers Alan J. Higgins and Eddie Gorodetsky, as well as British comedian Gina Yashere. This slow-burning relationship narrative might not be the show that Lorre's fans are expecting, either.

But you know what? Starkly expressed expectations such as those are the kinds of things that Chuck Lorre likes to avoid when in the development stages of putting a TV show together. When speaking about Bob Hearts Abishola during a panel at this year's TCA summer press tour, Lorre was asked if it was a concern that Bob Hearts Abishola might be an acquired taste for fans who have come to expect certain standards from the writer and producer. Here was Lorre's response:

I can’t anticipate. I can only do this and try to be honest with how I feel about it. 'Is it working for me?' I can’t anticipate how it’s going to be with the audience. If you try and anticipate, you start pandering. You start trying to think you know what an audience wants. That’s a path to madness and arrogance and failure, I think. I don’t know the answer to that.

Considering Chuck Lorre again has four concurrent TV shows in production, I think it's safe to say that the way he's doing things is working quite nicely for him. So if he wants to continue putting himself in a mental bubble in the midst of creating the next big comedy hit, by all means, he's earned it.

Obviously, there's a lot of logic to be found in Chuck Lorre's take on things. At this point in TV's relationship with the Internet, it's become nearly impossible to read about shows that don't have members of the fandom predicting every possible outcome that could happen. Now imagine if Lorre was trying to feed into that insatiable hunger for content when helping put together the final season of The Big Bang Theory or the first season of Bob Hearts Abishola.

Can you imagine how many babies Sheldon and Amy would have had by the time the finale rolled around? As well, it would have been a natural instinct for Chuck Lorre and Bob Hearts Abishola's co-creators to want to pair Billy Gardell back up with his Mike & Molly co-star Melissa McBride for the new show. But that obviously wouldn't have worked very well, considering Abishola is from Nigeria and McBride...isn't.

bob hearts abishola cbs

Not only wasn't Chuck Lorre thinking about audience expectations when coming up with Bob Hearts Abishiola, but he and the other producers also weren't fully considering those who would ever to write about the series, seeing as how the show's stylized title uses a heart symbol between the two characters' names. Lorre copped to missing the mark on that one when asked how people were supposed to refer to it, with Al Higgins also chiming in.

CHUCK: I think you substitute the word 'hearts.' I didn’t know it was going to freeze up and crash everything.AL: Y2K.CHUCK: Sorry. Found out later that Final Draft just explodes when there’s a heart emoji in the script. We didn’t know. Let’s suffer through this. We’ll figure it out. I guess if it is to be written out, it’s Bob Hearts Abishola.

Sometimes you just want your TV show's name to be different from everything else, and you don't give a damn about word processors or coding. Not the craziest thing in the world. At least Bob Hearts Abishola allows for a simple image-to-text substitution that doesn't involve a lot of case changes or punctuation marks.

cbs bob hearts abishola hospital

In Bob Hearts Abishola, Billy Gardell's Bob comes out of a stress-induced heart attack with a new look on life, and his look is pointed firmly in the direction of his hospital nurse Abishola, a Nigerian immigrant played with winning charm by Folake Olowofoyeku. Bob didn't expect to see a perfect match in Abishola, and their different lives don't exactly mesh together, but he's determined to try and win her heart, even if some of it gets a little creepy.

For any fans wondering about how the show arrived at the character name Abishola, that choice was directly influenced by co-creator Gina Yashere, whose parents were Nigerian. Yashere told the TCA crowd that co-creator Al Higgins erroneously pitched the name "Lupita," and the comedian was quick to shut him down over why that wouldn't be proper nomenclature for the area. She continued, explaining what the name actually means:

GINA: So I was like, 'Here is a list of Nigerian names. Pick one of these.' And we settled on Abishola, which is a nice name. It had a nice meaning which means 'born to wealth, born to guide, look after wealth.' Yes. Beautiful name and not too complicated for the American palate once you get used to it.CHUCK: And it’s such a stark contrast to the monosyllabic Bob. It’s a lovely, melodic, poetic name. Bob is a sound.

Viewers will hear that Abishola pronounces his name like "Bobe," so it can actually be two sounds. Depending on how up close and personal Bob gets when trying to win Abishola over, she might end up calling him a few other choice names as well.

Big Bang Theory's Chuck Lorre Reveals The Biggest Creative Fights Of His Career

As part of the giant fall TV schedule that's really getting underway now, Bob Hearts Abishola premieres on CBS on Monday, September 23, at 8:30 p.m. ET. 

Top Photo Credit @ Monty Brinton / CBS

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.