From Symbolic Obscurity to Cultural Visibility? African Immigrants on U.S. Television and the Ambivalence of Nigerians on American Sitcom

Toks Dele Oyedemi


Bob Hearts Abishola, a sitcom with a major Nigerian character, premiered on the American CBS network in 2019. This marks an important moment in the representation of African immigrants in the U.S. entertainment media. African immigrants in the United States experience symbolic obscurity because of their absence in media narratives and the ridicule or trivialization in their representation when stories about them are presented. This study examines the cultural relevance of this sitcom and its reception. Through analysis of introductory episodes of the show, interviews with Nigerian immigrants in the United States, and a study of social media responses to the sitcom, this study reveals the nature of cultural visibility the sitcom provides Nigerian immigrants. At the same time, the show also presents the consequence of ambivalence of media representation in the representation of African Americans, which inadvertently brings the friction in the U.S. Black community to the fore.


Nigeria, sitcom, American television, African immigrants, media representation

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