Sitcom and New IMAG Ball Cap
By BERNICE FOX
Special to Circling the News
After settling in to talk with entertainment reporters and television critics about his new sitcom, “Bob Hearts Abishola,” Palisadian Chuck Lorre reached into a bag at his feet and pulled out a new yellow ball cap.
Big letters across the front of the cap say IMAG. Lorre says that stands for Immigrants Make America Great.
“The story I wanted to tell is about the greatness of first-generation immigrants, about the focus and discipline, the hard work, rigorous, rigorous honesty that goes with coming here and grabbing ahold of the American dream. So, the premise of the series is Immigrants Make America Great.”
That premise is told in looking-for-laughs sitcom fashion in “Bob Hearts Abishola,” which is set in Detroit, though filmed here in Los Angeles. Comedian and actor Billy Gardell stars as Bob.
In the first episode, Bob has a heart attack from the stress of running his compression socks business. In the hospital, he falls (figuratively) for his cardiac nurse, Abishola, an immigrant from Nigeria, played by Folake Olowofoyeku.
Ever the prolific sitcom creator and producer, Lorre tells Circling the News the immigrant idea was secondary to his wanting to work again with Gardell, who played Mike in “Mike & Molly,” which ran from 2010-2016.
Lorre says the first step was “we have to find something to do that we can do with Billy” and the immigrant story “kind of developed around him.”
When it comes to the national discussion about immigration, Lorre says he doesn’t “understand the anger.” He points out that “a cursory look at American history says that’s what we’re all about is immigration. … That’s exactly the greatness of this country: the melting pot.”
Lorre hopes “Bob Hearts Abishola” will have a positive impact and says “if we bring a little laughter to the conversation, that would make it worthwhile.”
“Bob Hearts Abishola” premieres Monday, September 23, 8:30-9 p.m. on CBS.