Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj has come to an end

In weighing the cost of production against viewership and traction, Netflix decided the show didn't make the cut.

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patriot act with hasan minhaj
Source: IMDb.

Popular American web series Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj has been cancelled after 40 episodes and six seasons. Minhaj took to Twitter to make the announcement, informing fans that the show has “come to an end.”

Originally released in October 2018, Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj became popular on Netflix for its unconventional topics, infographics and research, and humorous delivery. Since the announcement, a Change.org petition to bring back the show has garnered over 5,000 signatures in less than a day.

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Across its six seasons, the show promised to explore “the modern cultural and political landscape.” Whether it was critiquing hype culture, the burden of student loans, or even the legal marijuana industry, it did exactly that, offering a fresh perspective to a pessimistic generation looking for a fresh news source.

Minhaj, a former correspondent of the satirical Daily Show and an award-winning stand-up comedian, was hardly the expected creator, producer, and host of such an informative show. And yet, with his research-backed episodes and fascinating stage set-up (the show even won an Emmy for Outstanding Motion Design in 2019), he created something memorable.

Unfortunately, that was not enough. In weighing the cost of production against viewership and traction, Netflix decided Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj didn’t make the cut.

To South Asian viewers, Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj provided an important source of representation, having an Indian-origin host provide an Asian point-of-view, and sometimes even whole episodes to important Indian issues.

Days before the ICC 2019 World Cup, Minhaj released a buzz-worthy episode on corruption in cricket. It highlighted the role of the IPL in establishing the BCCI as a crucial international player, and its repercussions on the game. The episode even featured the infamous Lalit Modi, who said “there is no ICC without the BCCI” and asked Minhaj with a smirk, “You think a single match can take place without India?”

Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj thrived in its no-holds-barred method of reporting. In 2018, it even took the Saudi government to task in openly discussing the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and condemned the crown prince. Two episodes in, the show was already banned in Saudi Arabia for violating anti-cybercrime laws, but by then, the message was clear: Patriot Act was something worth looking out for.

Minhaj’s episode on the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections, too, garnered a mixed response on social media. He named several controversial BJP candidates like Anantkumar Hegde and Pragya Thakur, and when questioned on the impact of his episode on voters, he was quick to respond – “Let me make this thing very clear. Comedians can’t swing elections.”

In many ways, Patriot Act created a tight-knit community in its two-year run. Whole episodes were made available on Youtube, Minhaj’s active responses on Twitter created massive engagement, and his “Deep Cuts” behind-the-scenes segments became popular in their own right. Alongside Subtle Curry Traits and other groups celebrating Indianness with a touch of laughter, desis found an outlet to poke a little fun at themselves.

Most recently, Minhaj’s heartfelt message to the South Asian community on its hypocrisy and internalised racism amid the #BlackLivesMatter movement made waves in a meaningful way: “When you became an American citizen, you don’t just get to own the country’s excellence. You have to own its failures. That is the deal.”

Perhaps petitions will work wonders and bring the show back, possibly on another streaming service. Or perhaps Minhaj will divert his unique blend of news and comedy into another vehicle. Till then, Sundays typically spent waiting for a new Patriot Act episode won’t be the same.

READ ALSO: Review: Indian Matchmaking (Netflix)

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Rhea Nath
Rhea Nath
Rhea L Nath is a writer, editor, and content creator studying at the University of Sydney.

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