“Sleeping Next to an Old Boat” raises an issue about the value of things, and a robot threatens to replace Olu.
This recap of Bob Hearts Abishola season 2, episode 5, “Sleeping Next to an Old Boat”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
The Nigerian approach to education is something of a stereotype, but the latest episode of Bob Hearts Abishola plays it up. Dele has received an A in every subject in school, but there are near-perfect A’s, and there are only-just A’s, and only the former is good enough for Abishola, Tunde, and Olu, all of whom act like Dele has come home with a tattoo and a pregnant girlfriend.
Bob is shocked, too, but for different reasons. He just sees them as A grades — he used to get five dollars for one of those. The idea of rewarding a child for something they should be doing anyway is mysterious to Abishola, who considers it a matter of personal pride to do one’s best at everything, always. But is that a realistic viewpoint for a kid?
Bob, you get the sense, doesn’t think so. He wants to spend some more time with Dele and establish a bond with him since he’s going to be his step-father, but Abishola will only concede if he puts him to work. Later, she speaks with Gloria about whether it’s normal to pay for good grades — they establish it’s a white thing — and the well-known merits of hitting your children. In 2020, having a character even express this sentiment is more daring than it seems.
Dele helps Bob clear out his garage in Bob Hearts Abishola season 2, episode 5, and he just can’t understand why he has so much stuff. Bob tries to explain the concept of retail therapy, but it doesn’t take. To Dele, Bob is simply his “elder”, not his buddy, but he’s willing to take what he says on-board since it’s an excuse for him to live a bit more in a way he’d clearly like to. Bob lets him have whatever he wants in the garage in exchange for working so hard, and he takes most of it home.
Dele is smart enough to have his excuses pre-loaded when Abishola returns home and finds him with all kinds of gadgets. He reframes most of them in an educational context, but it’s no good. Abishola later confronts Bob about him spoiling Dele, and blames his privilege. Abishola comes across as unreasonable in this scene, especially in how vehemently she attacks Bob for never having had to work for anything. She might not have been privy to the story that Dottie later shares with her about Bob keeping the company afloat on his own after the death of his father, but she has seen how hard he works. This just felt like a contrived way of having the argument.
“Sleeping Next to an Old Boat” takes its title from the B-plot, in which Olu and Tunde acquire a robotic vacuum cleaner from Bob’s garage. It makes Olu feel inadequate. I couldn’t help but want one. I suppose that’s the show doing its job in highlighting cultural differences — guess I’m just lazy.
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