Folake Olowofoyeku Gets to the Heart of the Matter in Timely New Sitcom BOB HEARTS ABISHOLA

— September 20, 2019

By BILL HARRIS

Special to The Lede

There’s something called “Florence Nightingale Effect” in the medical profession, although there appears to be disagreement about the specifics.

Apparently the original syndrome referred to nurses falling in love with their patients. Many people today think the term means the opposite, and applies to patients who fall in love with their nurses.

Either way, let’s make one thing perfectly clear about the new sitcom BOB HEARTS ABISHOLA, which debuts Monday at 8:30 p.m. ET on CTV: At least at the outset, the story is based on a cute infatuation that is irrefutably one-sided!

From award-winning creator, executive producer, and writer Chuck Lorre (THE BIG BANG THEORY), BOB HEARTS ABISHOLA follows Bob, played by Billy Gardell, who is a middle-aged compression-sock businessman recovering from a heart attack. Waking up in the hospital, he quickly becomes enamoured with his cardiac nurse, a Nigerian immigrant named Abishola, played by Folake Olowofoyeku.

It’s not that Abishola dislikes Bob. She finds him kind of sweet. But his initial kind gestures after being discharged from the hospital confuse her, more than anything else. She does her share of eye-rolling, both externally and internally.

“It's interesting what you were saying about, what was it, ‘Florence Nightingale Effect’? I'd heard of that before, but I didn't even apply it to this,” Olowofoyeku said. “I actually haven't thought about it in years, but yeah, perhaps that's what's going on here. Maybe this will last longer, though. That’s the journey, right? The audience members will be uncovering that with us.”

It’s certainly understandable why the Abishola character thinks this is “Florence Nightingale Effect” and likely nothing more.

“Especially if it happens often,” Olowofoyeku said. “The difference here, though, is probably no one has ever given her socks.”

Bob’s funny attempts to get to know Abishola better set the stage for a comic examination of immigrant life in North America, and many have suggested that the current political climate makes this the perfect time for such a tale. Lorre certainly knows a thing or two about TV timing, having come up with THE BIG BANG THEORY at the exact moment “nerd culture” was taking over the world.

“There are jokes that I feel the American side will get, and there are jokes that the Nigerian side will get, and there are jokes that both cultures, both groups, will get,” Olowofoyeku said. “It’s a pioneering show in that sense, surprisingly, but it's the first time it's being done, and people are welcoming it.”

Speaking of welcoming things, there’s a unique aspect to BOB HEARTS ABISHOLA that Olowofoyeku believes is a particularly brilliant move by the creators of the show. Depending upon your keyboard capabilities, the word “HEARTS” in BOB HEARTS ABISHOLA appears as a heart emoji.

“That is a big deal,” Olowofoyeku said. “Especially to young folks, people who are really into social media, they’re going to love that. It seems like a small thing, but it’s a big thing. Maybe I’m being a bit too mushy, but just seeing it that way, on a piece of paper, with the heart emoji, it automatically brightens it up to me.”

Whether it’s spelled out, or in the form of an emoji, the heart wants what the heart wants. Bob just needs Abishola to open up hers.

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@billharris_tv