'Bob Hearts Abishola': Is Chuck Lorre recycling his earlier sitcoms with characters of color and token diverse writers?
CBS has given a pilot production commitment to 'The United States of Al', another show by Chuck Lorre, featuring a white man and an Afghani guy, with the show including two writers of color. Is Chuck Lorre struggling to remain relevant in entertainment?
'Bob Hearts Abishola' held a lot of promise ahead of its premiere in September. Chuck Lorre developed the story and said he wanted to tell the stories of immigrants and how "immigrants make America great".
In its first few episodes, though the show found a fanbase, it has also managed to anger a large section of society. The American Descendants of Slaves (ADOS) is demanding CBS to cancel the show saying it is perpetuating harmful and racist stereotypes against Black Americans.
As each episode continues to hit our screens, most of the comedy on the show feels like recycled and derivative material, inspired by Lorre's earlier works which include 'Two and A Half Men' and 'The Big Bang Theory'.
Both shows were successful, but both also managed to end up offending a large number of people (women, people of color, nerds, etc.). Most have even called 'Bob Hearts Abishola' a reboot of 'Mike and Molly' where Molly has been replaced.
There is also an Indian doctor character whose fake accent is outdated and unnecessary. It almost feels as if British-Nigerian comedian Gina Yashere has been included as a token writer of color on the team.
A few days ago, news broke out that CBS has given a pilot-production committee to another one of Chuck Lorre's show, 'The United States of Al', which will be about Afghanistan war veterans.
This time, Lorre will include two writers of color — although that may not be by choice — Reza Aslan and Mahyad Tousi. Aslan and Tousi who founded BoomGen Studios, which focuses on content by and about people and cultures of the Middle East, Central and South Asia and North Africa.
'The United States of Al' will be about the friendship between Riley, a Marine struggling to readjust to civilian life in Ohio, and Awalmir (the titular Al), the Afghan interpreter who served with the unit and has come to the United States to start a new life.
This would be great if it weren't for the fact that it seems like Lorre is just repackaging his premise for 'Bob Hearts Abishola'. At this point, it feels like Lorre peddles a formula and fills in the blanks with writers whose backgrounds match with the "diversity" Lorre wants to focus on.
Lorre's 'Mom' and 'The Kominsky Method' are great, but he cannot tell diverse stories the way he produced his other sitcoms.
It's clear that Lorre is trying to adapt to and stay relevant in a new society that is more aware and more active about immigrant rights and the kind of diversity in the United States.
Sure, his intentions may be good but are they worth it if Lorre continues to give a platform to continue racist stereotypes?
We don't know much about 'The United States of Al' yet, and there may be time yet for Lorre to learn from the backlash against 'Bob Hearts Abishola' to deliver a better show.
Now, we are just tired of influential white artistes building their success on the stories of people of color while continuing to disrespect them.