I delved into the world of this multi-layered television show via an opportunity to interview Amanda Cordner, who plays the effervescent bestie and truth-teller, 7ven.
I was embarrassingly late joining the bandwagon for the already popular show. After watching the first episode, I stayed miffed for days that I wasn't introduced to its brilliance sooner.
While the premise of the show focuses on a gender-fluid millennial manoeuvering through life, the many insights gained on their journey are relatable and the reason everyone is so enamoured with the show. I became a fiend for the cast, fast and quirky writing, Iife lessons and in-your-face reality. I quickly binged the entire two seasons and patiently awaited the arrival of the third.
On October 5, Sort Of creators Bilal Baig and Fab Filippo announced that this season would unfortunately be the last. Watching Baig’s character, Sabi Mehboob, and the rest of the cast cope with relationships, death, life changes, embracing oneself and moving forward will unfortunately all come to an end. I wasn't ready. But after watching the first episode from season 3 a few weeks ago, I realized that I've gained so much introspectively from the show. Here are my top 5 takeaways that I learned about steering your own ship while watching Sort Of.
Warning: spoiler alerts are ahead if you haven’t watched the show!
1. Life's punches come swift and hard.
Yes, this is a given. But let’s look at things from the show’s perspective. Since the debut episode, Sabi just can’t seem to catch a break. From being fired and having one of the worst dates in their life and having to put a sizable life decision on the back burner for work... to kissing and having feelings for their ex-boss, Bessy—it was one thing after another. Sabi tried to engage in discourse with their strict father about their life changes, only to later end up mourning the loss of their parent, ushering in another set of emotions to work through. Now, Sabi finds themselves at a crossroads where they’re searching for a springboard to finally start living life and making decisions for themselves.
If it’s one thing I’m guilty of, it’s putting myself on the back burner when things get hectic. Health, personal matters, etc., fall back, and everything and everyone else becomes a priority. I’m always scolded for my actions but I don’t take heed. However, I have come to learn that without setting boundaries, you’re opening up yourself to a host of issues. That word comes off as a buzzword of sorts, but it is a rather crucial one. Boundaries may seem like you’re being selfish (and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, see point #5). Nonetheless, many of us are exceptionally good at putting life’s obstacles before our well-being. Sometimes, without time to even contemplate how to react to situations. Sabi has been on the receiving end of major life events without a safety net in sight. Like Sabi, it’s our reaction and how we respond to these hardships that will hopefully take us in the direction we need to go—whether it’s a learning lesson or a healing one.
2. Dealing with transitioning is not a one-size-fits-all
In one scene, 7ven lovingly reminds Sabi’s mother, Raffo, that she shouldn’t be worried about placating anyone while she’s in mourning. She’s told to simply do the best she can. It’s clear Raffo is grappling with her feelings about losing her husband. She’s dishevelled, withdrawn and solemn but is consistently trying her best. Yet her emotionless family doctor, alongside her do-right brother-in-law and unemotionally available sister-in-law, all have something to say about the day’s proceedings and Raffo’s actions. All of their behaviours cumulate into events that heighten the divisible tension in the family, ultimately revealing how everyone has been dealing with their grief.
The title of this point should be a given, yet the obvious still remains to be said. After losing my dad in 2007, I had a front-row seat to grieving, and honestly, it’s complicated. I’m still grieving 16 years later. Everyone grieves and feels differently. I do not pretend to know, but I do understand that we are all carrying the love, hurt, disbelief and void that remains after a loved one passes. Collectively, I know that as individuals, we are not one and the same. Therefore, my grieving process will be a contrast compared to my other three siblings. Some people may dive into work to keep themselves from falling apart. Others may go into a deep depression, trying to cope with a barrage of feelings. There is no blueprint on how to overcome this type of emotional overflow, and each character in Sort Of makes this abundantly clear in a real and beautiful way—faults and all. Whichever route we go, the lesson here is to always make room for grace.
3. Feel all the feels
There is a lot of emotional baggage for everyone to work through and overcome in this series. While watching, it's difficult not to take people's actions at face value and label it as is. Why is this person condescending? Isn't that a rude way to respond? Why doesn't she just butt out of the situation? But for every action there is a reaction.
Everyone is going through something at some point in time. Their reaction to any given situation is valid and so is yours when you find yourself in a similar situation. People are very quick to judge, feel guilty or are terrified of what they feel in the moment. After all, our actions may sometimes be retaliatory when we don’t get the time to sit with our feelings. However, what all the characters have shown us in their respective moments of crisis is its human to react. It's imperative to feel, sift through the emotions and arrive at a clear resolution (even though it doesn't always end up that way). It's through those actions that we have a chance to arrive at a place of clarity.
4. You’re never too old to learn
Throughout the seasons, we've watched as the relationship between Sabi and their mom, Raffo, evolved from confusion and disbelief to understanding. Raffo was looking for a soft spot to land while trying to understand what her child required for peace of mind. Having to do so with religious beliefs, and the weight of everyone else's preconceived notions about Sabi and their queerness was not an easy task. But Raffo, even with the challenges before her, put all of the naysayers aside to embrace her child, learn, and be a witness and supporter of her child’s happiness.
I see some of my mom in Raffo. My mother is of Caribbean descent, a community said to be set in their beliefs and ways. However, my mom is a very liberal and loving individual who cares less about what fault-finders care to spew. We binged season one of Sort Of together and she was all in. At the same time, the show served as a learning springboard for her too. We spoke about pronouns, I shared some history about drag, and we discussed human rights and discrimination against the LGBTIQA+ community. It was a meaningful and educational conversation that I was proud to have with my mom. The mere fact that she took the time to listen and learn at her prime age of 74 showed me that it’s never too late for anything. Excuses and ignorance are not acceptable. If you apply yourself and leave the door open to development, it can happen in the most organic way.
5. It's okay to be selfish
Sabi stated that they feel so much pressure to not do the thing that will make everything explode and that there’s never a good time to stir the pot. They’re absolutely correct regarding the latter but the question remains—then when is? Looking back through the seasons of Sort Of, Sabi has been caught up in situations where their life changes were put on hold because everyone else came first. Everyone revolving in Sabi’s axis drew from their kind and breezy demeanour. Sabi was always the glue keeping everything together while their life was on the verge of imploding. Those instances created environments where Sabi’s nurturing personality hindered them from making life-altering transformations for the better simply because their choices would reverberate throughout everyone else's life. So, will we see Sabi start making commitments only to themselves this season?
It would be beautiful to see Sabi make a path for themselves with only Sabi in mind. Being selfish is not one-dimensional and doesn’t have to be taken literally where you lack consideration for others. It’s not always a negative connotation. In other words, you should always be concerned in contributing to your own happiness. And sometimes it may come at a cost higher than expected.
A rebirth can reveal itself at any time and in many forms. We have seen the main characters go through a lot over the past two seasons. In this last one, I’m hoping to see growth, healing and happiness and huge transitions with a touch of flair for Sabi and all the characters on the show.
The final eight-episode season will make its world premiere in Canada on the free CBC Gem streaming service beginning Friday, November 17 (two episodes will be available per week), with the series finale (final two episodes) set for Friday, December 8. The final season will also air on CBC TV in Winter 2024. Seasons 1 and 2 are currently available to stream for free in Canada on CBC Gem.