The Big Picture

  • Fleabag
    authentically blends humor & tragedy to showcase personal growth.
  • Sort Of
    , created by Bilal Baig, fills the void left by
    Fleabag
    with raw, relatable, and comedic storytelling.
  • Both
    Fleabag
    and
    Sort Of
    tackle life’s struggles with wit, heart, and humor, resonating with viewers.



Very few series have been able to accomplish what Fleabag did. Created by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, the Prime Video dramedy introduced viewers to a unique brand of hilarious introspection that had them laughing and weeping in equal measure. Starring Waller-Bridge as the titular “Fleabag,” this award-winning series gave audiences a realistic example of someone’s journey to process their grief in order to become a better person. Aided by the exceptional acting of its cast, including Olivia Colman, Sian Clifford, and Andrew Scott, this Emmy-winning show garnered a well-deserved fanbase who felt seen by the authentic message at its core, making its short two-season run that much more heartbreaking. It’s amazing that, even with so few episodes, the program was able to tell the story it had set out to from the start, its end coming at what the creative team believed to be its natural stopping point.


But no matter how well executed, this end still left audiences hungering for the series’ innovative approach to storytelling that created painful yet hilarious situations watchers could learn from and relate to. We may not have a Season 3 of Fleabag, but that doesn’t mean viewers are out of luck when searching for a show that seamlessly merges emotions and humor to tell an important message. With its similarly resounding story of someone just trying to find their way, Sort Of, created by Bilal Baig, is the true spiritual successor that Fleabag fans have been waiting for.

sort of poster

Sort Of

Follows a gender-fluid millennial who straddles various identities, exposing the identities and labels that are no longer applicable.

Release Date
November 18, 2021

Creator
Bilal Baig, Fab Filippo

Cast
Bilal Baig , Amanda Cordner , Gray Powell , Gracy Lynn Kung , Kaya Kanashiro , Ellora Patnaik , Supinder Wraich , Aden Bedard

Main Genre
Comedy

Seasons
3

Creator(s)
Bilal Baig , Fab Filippo



‘Fleabag’ Offers an Authentic Perspective

Before Sort Of premiered, Fleabag was the best example of a drama-comedy that used its humor to broadcast real truths about life. Of course, this in no way means it’s the only show of this genre fusion out there, with shows like Shameless combining funny and sad elements to tell a riveting story. But it was Fleabag that perfectly meshed these differing tones together so that one aspect didn’t have to falter to allow the other to shine. Whether it be through heartbreaking monologues detailing the struggles of trying to do better or the myriad of hilarious flashbacks that fill each episode, this story awed viewers with just how effortlessly it imbued each scene with poignant thoughts on what trying to become a good, happy person looks like. Audiences saw someone who was deeply flawed in the show’s main character, someone who tried their best but so often made colossal mistakes in the pursuit of learning what they’re meant to do in life, and they felt seen.


It’s rare for a show to perfectly balance its conflicting tones as well as Fleabag does. Similar programs inject unbelievable comedy to soften the harshness of their messages (cheapening them altogether) or do the opposite, amplifying extremely distressing plots and making it impossible to enjoy any humor through the heartbreak. Fleabag is a destructive and troubled woman who, by making common mistakes, comes to terms with her faults and fights to address them in a journey that many watching can relate to.

Even with its raucous comedy, this approach to unabashedly portraying a realistic and nuanced personality (the good and bad parts of it) makes the narrative’s core theme of striving to do good so much more impactful. Even more, it validates viewers, assuring them that it’s normal for people to mess up and do things they’re not proud of — as long as you recognize this and take the necessary steps to do better next time. This extraordinary character writing and commitment to realistic representations of internal struggle are what gave the show its legendary status, and this overwhelming success of storytelling wasn’t truly seen again until Sort Of aired in 2021.


‘Sort Of’ Navigates Our Confusing, Hilarious World

Bilal Baig in Max's Sort Of
Image via Max

While a superficial glance at both shows reveals absolutely no similarities between them, viewers will recognize in Sort Of the integral elements that made Fleabag so great. Created by Bilal Baig, the series follows Sabi (played by Baig themself), a genderfluid millennial living in Canada trying to navigate their way through a world that’s done nothing but confuse them. Surrounded by their loving but needling Pakistani family, a group of overbearing friends, and a wide set of anxieties over what their purpose in life is, Sabi’s constant attempts to discover their “purpose” in life may shock viewers with their authenticity. Even those who don’t share Sabi’s or their friends’ identities will find it hard not to identify with their frustration, with the constant disappointment stemming from believing you’ve found something that will lead you to self-fulfillment only to be left wanting once again. This struggle is a mainstay of the human experience, and with its dry wit and inventive storytelling, Sort Of gives this struggle a voice.


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Even amidst its fourth wall-breaking and unbelievable situations, what made Fleabag such a phenomenon was its ability to speak so blatantly about the hardships of the human experience. While not everyone has experience with the wild conflicts it showcases, the protagonist’s difficulties (and the comedy that stems from them) are so endearing it’s hard not to grow invested in the personal journey on display.


Sort Of sees Sabi face various issues (dealing with friends’ obnoxious partners, learning to present your most organic self while still looking cute, trying to find independence outside of parents’ expectations, etc.) and addresses them in a comedic, flawed, and captivating way. They are trying to address these issues, and it is extremely funny and devastatingly realistic, emphasizing the anxiety of trying to understand the world around you when you hardly understand yourself.Sort Of is an emotional, hilarious program that uses its comedy as a vehicle for the realistic story of someone just trying their absolute best. Its comprehensive understanding of life’s flaws echoes a similar recognition Fleabag had with both excelling in spotlighting these troubles, validating the audience’s struggles with them, and showing an inspiring story of someone overcoming them (or at least trying to).

‘Sort Of’ and ‘Fleabag’ Tell the Truth Through Comedy


Rarely can a drama broadcast raw truths in a way that the addition of comedy wouldn’t cheapen. Shows have attempted and succeeded to varying degrees, but few have been able to do as much with their stories as Fleabag did. With its choice to spotlight the successes and failures of the flawed character at its center, this series offered an organic portrayal of life and the grievances that inevitably go with it. A show hasn’t been able to portray this comically stressful situation as perfectly as this one, until Sort Of.

Both shows display unflinching stories of the messiness that comes from the best intentions and just how tiresome the path to self-fulfillment can be. But, they’re also heartwarming and make you feel good. Through Sabi’s pride in their identity, Fleabag’s commitment to never giving up, and so many other amazing parts of both series, they not only establish themselves as similar to one another but also as insightful glances into the experience of living sure to resonate with audiences, no matter their situation. Sort Of continues what audiences have longed for since Fleabag went off the air, and it is undoubtedly this famous series’ spiritual successor.


Sort Of is available to watch on Max in the U.S.

WATCH ON MAX

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