“Tough Like A Laundromat Washing Machine” lazily turns a character into a caricature for easy drama, but a funny B-plot and a late moment of contrition help things along.
This recap of Bob Hearts Abishola Episode 7, “Tough Like A Laundromat Washing Machine”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Bob Hearts Abishola Episode 7 is, fittingly, a story of two halves — and one is a lot weaker than the other. While its efforts at exploring baked-in generational racism are sincere, they’re also lazy and surface-level, demoting a potentially complex character to a caricature bleating idly about “you people”. It leads to a moment of contrition and one last cultural gag which lands a bit better, but if it wasn’t for a funny B-plot, “Tough Like A Laundromat Washing Machine” would have been easily the weakest episode of the season thus far. As things stand, it’s just one of them.
It begins with Abishola (Folake Olowofoyeku), Kemi (Gina Yashere) and Gloria (Vernee Watson) driving a hard bargain when Bob (Billy Gardell) explains that he wants to hire Abishola to care for Dottie (Christine Ebersole) after her stroke. She’s due to be sent home from the hospital and will be living at his house during her recovery, and Abishola’s gift to him — a “Stroke For Dummies” book — won’t be enough; she’s going to need full-time care, and Bob, Douglas (Matt Jones) and Christina (Maribeth Monroe) can barely look after themselves.
Abishola agrees, though as usual, she doesn’t get much choice in the matter. With Bob taking the time away from work to help out, he leaves Goodwin (Bayo Akinfemi) and Kofo (Anthony Okungbowa) in charge of MaxDot, which is the clear saving grace of Bob Hearts Abishola Episode 7. They immediately rush off to exercise their newfound power, letting people go and establishing increasingly draconian rules around bathroom visits, including demanding that a visibly pregnant woman provide a doctor’s note if she wants to pee more than twice during her shift.
This stuff is good. Less so is Dottie’s treatment of Abishola once her homecare begins, which plucks the lowest-hanging fruit from the racism tree. It’s unsubtle and largely unfunny; Dottie demands to be smothered, makes aimless remarks about “you people” taking things that affluent whites have worked for, and shrieks “You work for me!” when Abishola rightly calls it a day and walks out. Whereas Bob Hearts Abishola has generally been pretty good about presenting complex ideas of race and cultural difference, this whole sequence is the most simplistic the show has been; it’s almost what everyone assumed the entire show would be after hearing about the premise.
“Tough Like A Laundromat Washing Machine” attempts to redeem itself when Bob wheels Dottie to Abishola’s apartment so she can apologize. Christine Ebersole sells Dottie’s fear and frustration at her sudden lack of independence, and her teary-eyed apology feels contrite. Abishola invites her to stay for dinner, but if it’s what she smelled in the hallway, she politely declines — foreign food is still a step too far, which feels about right.
Bob, meanwhile, returns to work to find his entire workforce on strike, ending Bob Hearts Abishola Episode 7 on a welcomely amusing note. Hopefully, it hits more of those next week.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.