When Hasan Minhaj’s Patriot Act got renewed for another season in May 2020—after being postponed in March because of the pandemic—fans all over the world rejoiced. In the season that was entirely remotely produced because of pandemic restrictions, he talked about the eviction crisis, the legal marijuana industry, whether college is worth it, and the death of the news industry, among other things, and fans were happy they at least had the show, even if there was a pandemic ruining their lives.
In a tweet on August 18, the first Muslim Indian-American TV news-meets-comedy host announced that his Peabody award-winning show has come to an end, after almost three years and six seasons.
Fans, of course, were devastated to receive this news—be they news enthusiasts, pop culture lovers, or students who used to cite the show as their source for school projects.
Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj started streaming on Netflix in 2018 and was known for its particular news-meets-comedy format. Through this, the Daily Show alumnus delivered intense facts and big numbers with bite-sized doses of humour, pop culture references, and millennial lingo. In its three-year-long run, it covered a host of important news topics, ranging from the Sudan crisis to fast fashion to the flaws in the American policing system. The issues he spoke about were often things that had remained largely uncovered by mainstream media.
A lot of people online felt this cut comes at a time when people of colour are asserting their positions in the entertainment industry, and have found the timing ironic. They pointed out how low-rated and predominantly white movies like Kissing Booth were getting renewals on the streaming site, while pertinent shows like Minhaj’s were facing the guillotine.
As the first Muslim Indian-American to experiment with this format, and one of the only comedians of colour in the industry, Minhaj’s show attracted a wide variety of fans. “I'm an Indian American Muslim," Minhaj said in an interview with VICE last year. "I'm always reminded of that. And as a result, I've always had an insider-outsider relationship with America… Coincidentally enough, it's also been a huge strength for me when I've tried to connect with local and international audiences at the same time.”
And rightly so, for he made sure to bring out that brown representation on his show. His episode about the Black Lives Matter movement after George Floyd’s death asserted how Asian Americans had to step up to be actively anti-racist as well. In 2019, he covered the Indian elections and promptly got into controversies for his criticism of PM Modi and his ruling party. Now, the show’s departure is being mourned amongst Indians too, who found Minhaj’s lived experiences relatable to their own.
Some are suspicious this has to do with Netflix’s commercial interests in India, considering recent news of even Facebook allegedly willing to bend its rules for politicians from India’s ruling party.
In June 2020, however, the show got into a controversy after an Indian-American journalist accused it of breeding a hostile work environment for women of colour. She said she was compelled to speak out because of his episode on racism, which she said “reeked of hypocrisy”.
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