Check out ET's set visit to the CBS sitcom.
As Bob Hearts Abishola heads into its recently renewed fifth season, co-creator Gina Yashere admitted she's been thinking about all the guest stars she'd "love" to have on the show.
"I was at the Essence Black Women's luncheon just before the Oscars, and I met Sheryl Lee Ralph, who is a wonderful actor on Abbott Elementary. And she was like, 'I want to be on your show.' So I'm gonna try and work out a way to get her on the show as a guest," Yashere told ET during a recent chat on the set of her hit CBS sitcom.
The British comedian expanded on the idea, pitching that Abbott Elementary creator Quinta Brunson join in on the fun as well. "Listen, let's do a whole crossover thing," she said. "Come on ABC, let it happen. Don't stop this, it's magic!"
While viewers can cross their fingers in hopes that Yashere's ideas come to fruition, there are plenty of exciting things happening with Bob Hearts Abishola.
Yashere teased that the show's fourth season ends with "big decisions" being made by the titular couple, Bob Wheeler (Billy Gardell) and Abishola Adebambo (Folake Olowofoyeku). When the show premiered in 2019, Bob met his future wife, Abishola, as a cardiac nurse in the hospital while recovering from a heart attack. Three seasons later, Abishola has been working to get into Johns Hopkins University to become a doctor but "stuff has happened that throws a spanner in the works," Yashere explained.
"There were some big decisions that Bob and Abishola are gonna have to make together," she added.
Reflecting on the show's journey, Yashere marveled at how far the series has come. "I didn't know how far we were gonna get; when you write a pilot and shoot it, you just hope it gets picked up. And then when it gets picked up, you just hope that people like the show," she noted. "And so every time we get a new season, it's just a blessing and a dream come true. I cannot believe it's, four seasons have gone like that already. [It] just feels like yesterday when I got the call from Chuck [Lorre] to come and fly from New York and leave my home and everything I knew to move to Los Angeles and create the show."
She attributed the show's success to its characters and universal relationships that fans easily resonated with. "I think what fans are connecting to most of all is just the characters. You know, it doesn't matter where they're from, most of the people watching the show on CBS will never have met a Nigerian in their life, and may likely never meet one. But the fact is, people are falling in love with the characters on the show," Yashere said, adding that "nearly every story" in the series is pulled right out of her life. "They've realized that no matter what we look like [or] where we come from, we all want the same things. We all want love, we want happiness, we all want our kids to do well in life. And basically, that's what the people are really connected with. They're hilarious characters and three-dimensional, which is the most important part."
Olowofoyeku echoed Yashere's sentiments, adding that its authenticity is why she feels "honored and blessed and fortunate to be a part of this wonderful movement that is Bob Hearts Abishola."
"I attribute the success to Chuck Lorre assembling an amazing group of people, an amazing group of professionals to do the beautiful job that we do on this show," she added. "We have a big cast and I really enjoy when we have our dinner scenes or our party scenes, especially our dinner scenes where we all get to sit around the table."
The actress also revealed that the Nigerian food shown on the series is real and although the cast tries "to be good," especially during early morning shoots, "we very rarely succeed in not partaking in the feast. That's definitely one of my favorite scenes to shoot."
ET also spoke with Gardell about his weight-loss journey, during which he's dropped more than 150 pounds since the start of the pandemic.
In 2022, Gardell was encouraged to undergo bariatric weight loss in an effort to minimize his COVID risk, and has since worked on adopting a healthier relationship with food. The 53-year-old actor weighed over 370 pounds nearly a decade ago.
"I float between 205 [pounds] and 210 [pounds]," Gardell revealed. "Self-care is important, and I think I finally got there."
"I think you got to find peace with yourself and at some point, look in the mirror and go, 'You know, it's probably time to take care of you.' And I didn't get that note early on," he said. "But I'm a big believer that when you get it, you get it. It doesn't matter what it is, as long as you get it."
Gardell said his resting heart rate has dropped from 113 to 68 since reaching his current weight, and that he no longer suffers from Type 2 diabetes.
"Walking around pretty healthy these days," he said. "Of course, there's always people online that, you know, when I was heavy, they were like, 'You're too heavy!' And now it's like, 'Are you sick?' Can I just walk the earth, please?!"
Bob Hearts Abishola viewers have been along with Gardell for the ride. "That was one of the gifts of the show was to be able to, you know, talk to our producers and say, 'This is what I want to do' and they were incredibly supportive and they just gave little nods to it as it was happening," Gardell said of his physical transformation.
"The true people that were tortured here was my wardrobe guy and my makeup people because I kept getting smaller and they kept having to go buy shirts, tape them up, you know," he continued. "At one point, we were taping my neck because my skin hadn't adjusted yet and stuff, so God bless them. They got me through it. They made me look good all the way through. And it was a nice progression to have the audience watch in real time."
Looking ahead to the future of the show, Gardell marveled at its "amazing run" so far.
"That's like catching a unicorn," he said of the series' longevity. "I'm very, very grateful that we've been able to do this with the show. We found a nice audience, we keep getting a little bigger and bigger each year. I think we're putting out a good message and I think people adhere to that."
Bob Hearts Abishola's season 4 finale airs on May 22.