Patriot Act: Fans of Hasan Minhaj’s show urge Netflix to reconsider


Hasan Minhaj

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Hasan Minhaj was one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2019

Fans of Netflix’s topical comedy show Patriot Act have voiced their disappointment after it was cancelled.

On Tuesday, host Hasan Minhaj confirmed that the series would not return.

“Patriot Act has come to an end… what a run,” he wrote on Twitter, adding his thanks to “everyone who watched”.

It was the first weekly US talk show to be fronted by an Indian American. One viewer praised the “truly innovative” show, with another saying “South Asians definitely needed something like” it.

A petition urging Netflix to reverse its decision has gained around 7,000 signatures.

What was Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj?

When Time magazine named Minhaj one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2019, fellow comedian Trevor Noah praised the “whip-smart commentary, charisma and sincerity” the Muslim presenter used on Patriot Act.

“We’ve needed Hasan’s voice since Donald Trump came down that golden escalator and turned immigrants and Muslims into his targets,” Noah wrote at the time.

Minhaj’s series ran for 40 episodes across six seasons from December 2018, with the host riffing on the news stories of the day.

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Media captionIn one episode, which was removed in Saudi Arabia, Hasan Minhaj discussed the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi

The show “explores the modern cultural and political landscape with depth and sincerity”, according to his website.

Topics tackled by Minhaj, who used to work on The Daily Show, included global obesity, the Indian elections, censorship in China, the legalisation of cannabis, protests in Sudan, mental health and contemporary hip-hop.

Patriot Act was one of only a few topical talk shows on Netflix – a genre that has long been a staple of traditional broadcasters.

“There’s nothing on the Netflix roster that will fill that has the flexibility to respond to ongoing events with the immediacy that Patriot Act did,” wrote IndieWire’s Steve Greene.

Why was the show cancelled?

Usually when a broadcaster cancels a series, it’s because viewing figures are low. But Netflix never releases viewing figures, unless they are good.

A source familiar with the decision told Forbes that Netflix weighs viewers against cost when making renewal decisions, and has struggled to succeed in the talk show category.

No other reason has been put forward. Earlier this year, a former staff member complained that the working environment on The Patriot Act made her unhappy.

What has the reaction been?

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A petition has been launched to try and save the show

Fans have been quick to voice their disappointment on Twitter, with many drawing attention to the way it covered significant topics and its importance to Asian Americans.

“Nooooo, how can you not be there in November for the elections in the US? Or just not be there at all,” wrote film director Kunal Kohli. “Loved this show and all the comments you made on it. Only complaint was too few episodes! Demand a comeback.”

“This is such a shame, wrote culture critic Soraya Nadia McDonald. “Hasan was doing something needed and special, and spoke with such authority and clarity about issues centring South Asians.

“Hasan called out Asian anti-blackness with passion and fervour. Such a valuable voice.”

“South Asians definitely needed something like his show,” agreed freelance editor Imaan Sheikh. “Even if it veered into cringe or preachy territory sometimes.”

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