After six seasons and over forty episodes, Netflix cancelled ‘Patriot Act.’
The show was hosted by Indian-American comedian Hasan Minhaj, and is modelled after political and comedic talk shows like “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” and “Last Week Tonight by John Oliver,” the kinds of shows that survived the cable-TV-to-streaming-services migration
There were a few aspects of “Patriot Act” that made it truly special though. For one, Minhaj always spoke specifically from his Asian-American perspective and having grown up brown in America. He wrote about subjects that were relatively universal and evergreen, from the unethical business practices of Amazon, to fast fashion and gun laws.
At the same time, Minhaj was good at speaking to and from a POC perspective, in an industry slash TV genre that, even at its most woke, tended to privilege white voices. In season 6, Minhaj spoke about the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement in a way other communities didn’t: by calling out Asian-Americans’ complicit participation in white supremacy and racism.
Hasan Minhaj was formerly a correspondent for “The Daily Show,” back when it was hosted by the incendiary pundit Jon Stewart. He came to great prominence, however, with his comedy special “Homecoming King” (which also came out on Netflix), essentially a politically incisive bildungsroman that happened to have super good delivery and punchlines. So when it came to being an affable host, MInhaj was a perfect fit for “Patriot Act,” and equipped to bring something fresh to the political comedy format even when American TV was starting to get saturated with it.
One thing that set Minhaj apart from other comedians in his field was that he was… youthful. Like, legitimately hip. Comedians like John Oliver can play off how old and out of touch with Gen Y and Z they are, but Minhaj could reference a TikTok without being cringey. There was a certain woke dudebro swagger to the way he carried himself, which meant that whenever he got investigative and analytical with any social issues, it always came from a genuine place, not an ivory tower.
You could see it as well in his free Deep Cuts webisodes (up on YouTube for free!), extensions of the main ‘Patriot Act’ show that saw Minhaj answering live questions from the audience, building a relationship with his viewers without it feeling forced.
Six seasons is a good lifespan for a TV show, but it’s hard to ignore the fact that ‘Patriot Act’ is going off the air at an extremely crucial time. The show’s coronavirus coverage tackled not just the pandemic as a health crisis but also as a problem faced by home-renting Americans. This unique point in America’s history could do with more Hasan Minhaj content, or at least a just-as-good, if not better show, to fill the void that ‘Patriot Act’ left behind, the void that Netflix created.