I remember stumbling upon a stand-up comedy called Homecoming King by Hasan Minaj and being in absolute awe of this amazing comedian who had found the most brilliant way to blend hysterical storytelling with social commentary. So, when Netflix announced that Hasan Minaj would be the host of his very own talk show, I was sold! Patriot Act was born and ran for six compelling seasons. That is until it was pulled by Netflix earlier this month.
What made the series gripping, aside from Minaj’s own comedic brilliance, was its revolutionary way of starting conversations about topics that ought to be in the spotlight, spanning from civic rights under the Trump Administration to the harsh realities in Saudi Arabia. While conversations of most talk shows focus on the American system, Patriot Act managed to push barriers by encouraging passive Netflix audiences to educate themselves on international news and politics. Episodes focus on issues around the world inciting a sense of cultural awareness that’s unfortunately not done very often.
Hasan Minaj was able to bring forward fresh perspective and important representation for the South Asian community
The series was made even more unique due to Hasan Minaj’s own standing as the first Indian American host to have their own late-night show in the West. He was able to bring forward a fresh perspective that is backed with the experiences of being an immigrant with two South Asian parents who worked hard to build a life in America. To many in the South Asian community, myself included, his representation mattered – not only as a depicter to the world of our culture but also as an encouragement to achieve our own dreams.
And so, grasping that the show was coming to an end was extremely jarring and sad. But what came after was even worse. In a series of tweets last week, Patriot Act was accused to be a toxic workplace for women of colour. Numerous employees came forward with their experiences of workplace prejudices, silencing, and discrimination, claiming that the show had failed to protect the women that had brought it success. This, and The Ellen DeGeneres Show being under public scrutiny, depicts that there are larger issues at play.
With Patriot Act being celebrated for its progressive thinking and The Ellen Show being appreciated for its ‘Be Kind’ message, it seems clear that these mantras may not be practiced by all those working towards relaying them to the world. With the celebration of a show’s positives, there must also come the scrutiny of their failures especially when it comes to instances of discrimination. With the issues of race and gender inequalities being brought to the forefront more than ever, now is the time for shows like these to lead by example and practice what they preach internally.
Patriot Act may not have the opportunity to do so anymore, but what remains is a series that broke the mould and encouraged socio-cultural understanding and political dialogue in a commendable, engaging way. Our responsibility now, as its fans, is to not only admire the series and the lessons it taught us, but also to celebrate all the people who were responsible for making it the show we loved. Acknowledging the experiences of those treated unfairly ensures that their efforts in coming forward can lead to a better, more equal tomorrow.
Featured Image Credit: IMDb
Last modified: 31st August 2020