“Exclusive Interview with Bilal Baig: The Impact and Legacy of ‘Sort Of’
It was barely three years ago when one of the most unexpected hit shows emerged, changing the landscape of representation and storytelling. Now, Bilal Baig, the creative force behind Sort Of, is saying goodbye to their iconic cowboy boots and the beloved character they brought to life onscreen.
Similarities and Uncertainty
As Baig walks through the CBC’s downtown Toronto office, it’s clear that their offscreen persona isn’t much different from their onscreen character, Sabi Mehboob. Both are mid-twenties Torontonians, both softly spoken yet filled with impeccable timing for comedy, and both have complex relationships with their parents. The decision to conclude Sort Of has left a lingering uncertainty in the air, not just for the fate of the show, but for what comes next in the industry.
“What happens after?” Baig wonders. “What kind of stories will be told, and who will get the chance to share their voice?”
Shifting Representation in Television
Although Sort Of isn’t the first show to feature a non-binary storyline, it was among the pioneering series that spotlighted the journey of a gender non-binary individual as the main character. The widening visibility of individuals across the gender spectrum and the increasing representation on television were, to Baig, signs of progress and the potential for change when giving a platform to these stories.
Baig emphasized the significance of demonstrated respect and dignity for all individuals of the LGBTQIA+ community, underscoring the need for continuous representation and recognition of their identities.
Challenges and Hurdles
Despite the progress in representation, the future remains uncertain. While some series have introduced non-binary characters, only a few have centered their narratives around these characters. Furthermore, stories of pushback and lack of promotion from major streaming platforms reveal the challenges faced by creators and actors in bringing these narratives to life. Baig expressed frustration, stating that it’s time to move beyond conversations about needing opportunities and, instead, focus on supporting the talents and stories of non-binary individuals.
The Legacy of ‘Sort Of’
As Sort Of concludes its final season, Baig hopes that the legacy of the show extends beyond the screen. The series, rooted in Baig’s personal experiences and journey to self-discovery, aimed to cultivate a sense of empathy and universality in its storytelling. The decision to conclude Sort Of brings both bittersweet feelings and an opportunity for new and similar projects to emerge in its wake.
Baig’s aspiration for the legacy of Sort Of is defined by the success that emerges when opportunities are provided and talents are supported. Their hope is that the example set by both the show and their real-life experiences will inspire the industry to embrace and uplift diverse narratives and storytellers.
In the end, what remains is a call for empathy and respect, not just in the stories portrayed onscreen, but in the treatment and support of the individuals bringing these stories to life.
As Sort Of airs its final season, the spotlight shifts from Baig’s character to the enduring impact and legacy of the show. It’s a reminder that every story, every character, and every voice matters, and the industry must continue to evolve and create inclusive spaces for storytellers of all identities.”