The new CBC and HBO Max original series, SORT OF, made its North American premiere at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Sort Of will make queer-story by becoming the first (Canadian) primetime TV series to have a queer / trans-feminine South Asian and Muslim performer cast 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. 

The big-hearted Toronto-shot-and-set series follows a gender-fluid, South Asian millennial character named “Sabi” (played by Bilal Baig ) who straddles various identities from bartender at a queer bookstore/bar, to the youngest child in a large Pakistani family, to the de facto parent of a downtown Toronto hipster family. It’s a refreshing coming-of-age story that embraces different forms of transition, exploring the themes of gender, love, sexuality, family, career, and landscape.

Bilal Baig

Credit – Jackie Brown

Co-created, co-written and starring Bilal Baig (they / them), a Toronto queer, trans-feminine, Muslim playwright and performer best known for their play Acha Bacha . They also work with youth in under-resourced neighbourhoods to promote creative writing, literacy and combatting Islamophobia through the arts.

Bilal is also a core team member at non-profits such as Story Planet and Rivers of Hope, where they develop and facilitate workshops for youth in under-resourced neighbourhoods in Toronto focused on creative writing and literacy (Story Planet), and combatting Islamophobia through the arts (Rivers of Hope).

After its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, the series is available to stream in Canada now on CBC Gem. It will then be broadcast on CBC TV beginning Tuesday, November 9th. The series will also be available to watch in other countries, including: the US (HBO Max), UK, Australia, France, the Nordics and more.

Watch an exclusive interview with Bilal at On The Couch.

    About the Author

    Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.