Link: Queer family relationships are complicated. But Bilal Baig’s hit show ‘Sort of’ gets it Like the 28-year-old actor and writer who co-created the show and is its star, Sabi uses they/them pronouns, wears their hair long, dresses femme and sports manicures and bangles. This fact plagues Sabi’s well-meaning, conservative dad, Imran, so much so he mostly ignores it. “You’re really handy,” he says leaning on the ladder as Sabi, a former electrician, works the wires above. “You’re going to make a very good husband to a nice lady someday.” Continue reading.
From Soraya Roberts of Maclean’s:
Link: The Uncertain Stardom of Bilal Baig The first time Bilal Baig discussed gender with their parents was last fall, a week before the premiere of Sort Of, the CBC series inspired in part by Baig’s life. Yes, they know they should have done it earlier. Or at least before network promos began beaming Baig’s face into homes across the country. Continue reading.
CBC and HBO Max have renewed SORT OF for a second season, it was announced today. Created by Bilal Baig (Acha Bacha) and Fab Filippo (Save Me), the critically acclaimed CBC and Max Original comedy debuted on HBO Max in November 2021 following its Canadian premiere on CBC Gem in October 2021. The series was an official selection of the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival and made The Hollywood Reporter, The Globe and Mail and Vanity Fair’s Best TV Shows of 2021 lists. SORT OF also leads this year’s Canadian Screen Award nominations with 13 nods, including Best Comedy Series.
“We are so thrilled that we are able to dive back into the worlds of SORT OF, and to keep exploring the evolution of all our characters (including some new ones!) as they continue to investigate who they are in the world as friends, family members, lovers and human beings,” said Bilal Baig, co-creator, showrunner, executive producer and lead actor.
“SORT OF speaks to the complexity of being human in the world with wit, warmth and an authentic sense of inclusivity, thanks to the distinct voices of Bilal and Fab,” said Sally Catto, General Manager, Entertainment, Factual & Sports, CBC. “SORT OF has struck such a powerful chord with audiences, and we are thrilled to work with HBO Max and Sienna Films on the next chapter of Sabi’s story.”
“Baig and Filippo’s honest and insightful storytelling is a lesson in unraveling conventional views of identity,” said Jeniffer Kim, SVP, International Originals, HBO Max. “We could not be more excited to partner with CBC and Sienna Films on another season of this very special show.”
“It’s been a wonderful experience to develop this show from the ground up with Bilal and Fab, and now to have the opportunity in Season 2 to dig even deeper,” said Jennifer Kawaja, executive producer, Sienna Films.
Called “funny, tender, and humane” by NPR, “the kind of representation everyone deserves” by Mashable, and “a small masterpiece of contemporary urban storytelling” by The Globe and Mail, SORT OF follows the journey of “Sabi Mehboob” (Baig), a gender fluid millennial who straddles various identities from sexy bartender at an LGBTQ bookstore/bar, to the youngest child in a large Pakistani family, to the de facto parent of a downtown hipster family. Sabi feels like they’re in transition in every aspect of their life, from gender to love to sexuality to family to career. A coming-of-age story, SORT OF exposes the labels we once poured ourselves into as no longer applicable…to anyone.
The series is created by Bilal Baig and Fab Filippo, who also serve as showrunners and executive producers, and produced with the participation of the Canada Media Fund. Sienna Films’ Jennifer Kawaja is also an executive producer on the series. SORT OF is distributed worldwide by Sphere Media. Abacus Media Rights handles sales outside of the United States and Latin America.
It’s part of CBC’s mandate to tell Canadian stories. To reflect the faces we see in our communities from coast to coast. So it was a true pleasure when the public broadcaster announced Sort Of would be headed our way.
Debuting Tuesday on CBC Gem before bowing next month on CBC, Sort Of is ambitious, hilarious and heartfelt. Co-created by Bilal Baig and Fab Filippo (Save Me), Sort Of tells the story of Sabi Mehboob (Baig), a fluid millennial who straddles various identities from a bartender at an LGBTQ bookstore/bar, to the youngest child in a Pakistani family, to the de facto parent of a downtown hipster family.
In the debut episode, “Sort Of Gone,” Sabi contemplates an opportunity that would change their life until an accident puts their new plans in jeopardy. With a cast boasting Grace Lynn Kung, Supinder Wraich, Alana Bale, Amanda Cordner and Gray Powell, Sort Of is definitely great. We spoke to Bilal Baig and Fab Filippo ahead of the show’s debut on CBC Gem.
Bilal, the idea for Sort Of came while you and Fab chatted during breaks a play you were both performing in, Theory. What was it about those conversations that got you excited about working with Fab? Bilal Baig: I appreciated the sense of humour. I thought there was something really fun in figuring out what tickles each other. We had a similar sensibility in that our humour isn’t slapstick. I had also consumed both seasons of Save Me and got a sense that his sense of humour could be twisted too, and I’m all about that.
The other part of it was that he not only met me at every point in the making of this together, but he really brought his heart into it and I really appreciated that as a collaborator. It was really important that this was something we were really going to pour ourselves into.
Fab, what excited you about collaborating with Bilal? Fab Filippo: Right off the bat, I got the sense that Bilal had an unusually clear voice for someone their age. I was taken by how they moved in the world and how much generosity they had in the world toward other people in helping see who they are.
At first, it was getting together to hang. And then, when we discovered we laughed at the same stuff and started to pitch ideas back and forth, it became really clear that there was a kinship and a kind of understanding of how to move forward in collaboration.
Bilal, there is a lot of heart in Sort Of. Near the end of Episode 1 is a wonderful and funny scene between Sabi and their mother. Can you talk about walking the line in those moments? BB: The word I’ve been using is truth. We didn’t go into this looking to load every episode with as many huge, knee-slapping jokes as possible. It was more, ‘What feels truthful in this moment? What would these characters actually say and do?’ What I love about that scene, in particular, is that there are these other messages inside the words that actually come out of peoples’ mouths and to strive for that is really exciting. It goes back to the type of humour Fab and I like and working with the writers we didâ€”Jenn Engels, Ian Iqbal Rashid and Nelu Handaâ€”they all got on board too.
Fab, how did the writing room work, with COVID? FF: A lot of marathon Zoom meetings. [Laughs.] It was interesting to open it up to a writing room. It was, for the longest time, Bilal and I with the project. And then there is this vulnerability when you bring it to a room with the thoughts and ideas we had in our own, private, world. But they brought so much and added some much texture and dimension.
BB: It was kind of hard to step into my power because I was so in awe of these people who had come to serve this story. It’s one thing to create something on your own, but a whole other thing to have a room full of people dedicated to wanting to honour the vision. It was actually through Fab bringing me more and more into the process and reminding me that people want to hear from you and your voice is essential to all of this. I think I had forgotten that because I was so enamoured and scared.
Having two other South Asian folks in the room, the onus wasn’t just on one of us to get it right 100 percent of the time. If I missed something from our community, Nelu or Ian would step in. That was such a privilege.
Sort Of is available for streaming on CBC Gem on Tuesday. Sort Of debuts Tuesday, November 9, at 9 p.m. on CBC.
CBC has greenlit new original comedy SORT OF (8×30) from Sienna Films (Trickster, Cardinal). Created by Bilal Baig (Acha Bacha) and Fab Filippo (Save Me) and starring Baig, SORT OF is a big-hearted series about Sabi Mehboob (Baig), a fluid millennial who straddles various identities from sexy bartender at an LGBTQ bookstore/bar, to the youngest child in a large Pakistani family, to the de facto parent of a downtown hipster family. Sabi feels like theyâ€™re in transition in every aspect of their life, from gender to love to sexuality to family to career. The half-hour single-camera comedy begins production in Toronto today.
In addition to Baig, the cast includes Gray Powell (Hudson & Rex, Designated Survivor), Amanda Cordner (Baroness von Sketch Show, The Expanse), Ellora Patnaik (Kimâ€™s Convenience, Schittâ€™s Creek), Grace Lynn Kung (Transplant, Star Trek: Discovery), Supinder Wraich (The 410, Crawford), Kaya Kanashiro, Aden Bedard, Gregory Ambrose Calderone (This Movie is Broken, Salvation) and Alanna Bale (Cardinal, Killjoys).
When Sabiâ€™s best friend 7ven (Cordner) presents them with an opportunity to live and find themself in the “queerest place in the galaxy,” Sabi instead makes the decision to stay and care for the kids they nanny after their mom has a serious bike accident. Do they regret it? Sort of. A coming-of-age story, SORT OF exposes the labels we once poured ourselves into as no longer applicable…to anyone. A show about how each and every one of us is in transition. Sort of.
A CBC original series produced by Sienna Films, SORT OF is created by Bilal Baig and Fab Filippo, who also serve as showrunners and executive producers. The series is written by Baig, Filippo, Jenn Engels, Nelu Handa and Ian Iqbal Rashid, with Filippo and Renuka Jeyapalan (Kimâ€™s Convenience, Workinâ€™ Moms) directing. Sienna Filmsâ€™ Jennifer Kawaja and Julia Sereny are also executive producers.