In the second season premiere of the wonderful Canadian dramedy Sort Of, Sabi Mehboob (Bilal Baig) expresses a hope of finding “normal love.” Asked what that phrase means, Sabi explains, “You know: easy, uncomplicated — probably what Rachel McAdams has.”
Regardless of what Rachel McAdams is actually dealing with in that department, Sabi’s own love life — and their life in general — tends to be difficult and complicated. They are the twentysomething, gender-fluid child of Pakistani immigrants. They work as a nanny for the children of Paul (Gray Powell) and Bessy (Grace Lynn Kung), mix drinks at a queer bar/bookstore, and struggle to find a partner who will accept every aspect of them. “When I’m one way, it’s bad,” they once lamented about the challenge of fitting in with friends, lovers, and family. And yet: “When I’m another way, it’s bad.”
In the first season, Sabi was preparing to leave Toronto with artistic best friend 7ven (Amanda Cordner) when Bessy got into a bike accident and wound up in a coma, inspiring Sabi to abandon their own dreams to help out. In the new season, Bessy has finally woken up, but to a life she only vaguely remembers and seems to strongly dislike — much to the consternation of the perpetually, amusingly, flustered Paul. And while Sabi’s mother (Ellora Patnaik) has accepted their gender identity, their father (Dhirendra) returns from business overseas still referring to himself and Sabi as “father and son.”
So things are messy all around, and that’s before we get to Sabi and 7ven trying to rescue the bar from financial ruin, or 7ven dating an insufferable Instagram influencer, or Sabi’s sister Aqsa (Supinder Wraich) flirting with a “cousin” who she is not actually related to, or… Well, you get it. The show (created by Baig and Fab Filippo) continues to deftly juggle silliness and sadness, often in the same scene.
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“To love someone,” an imam tells Sabi and their dad, “you need to understand them.” Because Sort Of works so hard at understanding each and every one of its characters, it’s very easy to love.
The first two episodes of Sort Of Season Two begin streaming December 1 on HBO Max, with two additional episodes each Thursday through December 22. I’ve seen all eight episodes.