Canadian TV Queer-Story | SORT OF — A CBC and HBO Max original series

Canadian TV Queer-Story
A CBC and HBO Max original series

  • Premieres on CBC Gem on October 5, 2021
  • Broadcasting on CBC TV Tuesdays starting November 9, 2021
  • Will be available to view in the US (on HBO Max), UK, Australia, France, the Nordics and more at TBC dates

Toronto queer, trans-feminine, Muslim playwright and performer Bilal Baig (they / them) is the co-creator, co-writer and star of SORT OF, a new series streaming on CBC Gem and worldwide as of October 5.

Bilal Baig in SORT OF
Bilal Baig in SORT OF (Image courtesy of CBC)

Navigating life as a brown non-binary person ain't easy, even in a city as diverse as Toronto. SORT OF depicts the life of Sabi Mehboob, a gender fluid millennial. 

Life is messy, and the humour is often bittersweet. Sabi's carefully bland expression accepts everything, deflecting the many slights and discussions of "someone like you" as they slip from nanny to bartender to the youngest in a large Pakistani family to someone who's just looking for love. 

"Stupid cis-normy men and their cis-normy boners," says 7ven, Sabi's best friend, played by Amanda Cordner

Part-time nanny and part-time bartender, Sabi isn't exactly reaching their full potential as a human being. The story follows their attempts to lead a life as a queer / trans-feminine South Asian and Muslim, with all the layers of complications those various identities entail.

7ven has an offer for Sabi: leave your meh lifestyle, and come with me to Berlin, the "queerest place in the galaxy" rent-free. 

It sounds like the greatest opportunity...or does it?

Bilal Baig and Aden Bedard in SORT OF (Image courtesy of CBC)
Bilal Baig and Aden Bedard in SORT OF (Image courtesy of CBC)

Sabi as a character is entirely believable, and devoid of the cringe worthy stereotypes that too often go along with portrayals of non-binary characters of any kind. That's where representation is the key.

As a performer, Bilal Baig is both authentic and sympathetic, exposing both the vulnerabilities and strengths of the character, and not afraid to show contradictions or weaknesses.

In the real world, Baig works with kids in underserved neighbourhoods to in the areas of creative writing, literacy, and combatting Islamophobia through the arts. That ease with children shows, and Sabi's relationship with the kids they nanny is the warm heart of the series. 

I'd describe it as a drama with comedy sprinkled into the mix, a coming of age story about different kinds of transitions, and a central question that will resonate with many people: is it possible to live a truly authentic life, and what exactly does that look like?

And, of course, will Sabi go to Berlin?

The series will make queer history as the first (Canadian) primetime TV series with a queer / trans-feminine South Asian and Muslim performer in the lead role  — as well as featuring one of the first non-binary lead characters on mainstream North American TV. The series proudly boasts a racially, culturally, trans and gender diverse team in front of and behind the camera

CBC and HBO MAX Original Series
Produced by Sienna Films/Sphere Media. Images courtesy of CBC.
Produced with the Participation of the Canada Media Fund (CMF).
Distributed Internationally by Sphere Media Distribution/Abacus Media Rights.


  1. "Amanda has an offer for Sabi" Correction: 7ven has an offer for Sabi. Amanda is the name of the actor.

    1. Corrected - thanks for pointing it out Mr Anonymous!


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