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Why did Netflix Cancel Hasan Minhaj’s Patriot Act?

Brown comic Hasan Minhaj’s Netflix special Patriot Act has been cancelled. Its been two days after the announcement, the internet continues to mourn the show’s end and demands a solid reason from Netflix. 

In a tweet on Tuesday, Hasan announced the end of Patriot Act on Netflix in classic Hasan style – humorous, earnest but concise. 

However, fans of the show which completed its sixth season in June, have only begun digesting the news.

https://twitter.com/hasanminhaj/status/1295726954751168517?s=20

1. A Rebel Comic 

Patriot Act was the first weekly US talk show to be fronted by an Indian American.

Named after the constitutional act introduced by former President Bush in the aftermath of 9/11, and being hosted by an Indian-origin Muslim, controversy caught on with the show within weeks of its airing in 2018. 

One of the episodes making a joke on journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder and the Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman was taken off air by Netflix in Saudi Arabia. 

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But the show was not bogged down nor its creators overwhelmed. The content continued to remain as rebellious as disarming as ever with its comedy.

Some of the most looked over but urgent topics were covered by the woke show, including American export of obesity, eviction crisis, hip hop and the resistance movement and worth of a college degree post-COVID to name a few.

Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix
Patriot Act Trailer

Even before Patriot Act, Minhaj’s work was focused on dismantling racist and religious stereotypes, especially regarding Islam and Muslim Americans.

Growing up in a largely white neighborhood in Davis, California, the son of Muslim Indian immigrants, Minhaj was subject to bias at a young age. 

He frequently channeled his personal experience and stories into his work. He soon became a very relatable face for the brown community of all religions in a predominantly black and white entertainment industry.

The Daily Show’s John Stewart, however, backed the tall brown comic for more than just his death stare and big hair. Hasan worked with the senior political satirist on his show until it ended in 2015.

Minhaj was particularly praised for his topical comedy and thorough research in addition to millennial lingo and good enough comic timing.

After the George Floyd killing and re-rise of the Black Lives Matter movement in the US, he called out the Brown Asian population for their racism and urged them to stand up for the BLM too.

2. Making a Mark

In a short span of two years and six seasons, the show claimed multiple Emmy and Peabody awards.

Patriot Act cancelled by Netflix
Hasan Minhaj | Source: IMDb

His show would provide some helpful background introductions to international political malfeasance, corrupt lobbying practices, and the cultural impact of emerging trends both welcome and not.

Fans, of course, were devastated to receive this news— all the news enthusiasts, pop culture lovers, or students who used to cite the show as their source for school projects. 

Moreover, Netflix’s refusal to give a proper explanation as to why the show was cancelled is only adding fuel to fire. 

3. Why was the Show Cancelled?

Twitter has been breaking with discussions around the show’s cancellation, especially at a time when coloured people’s voices are being pushed forward across America. 

Huffington Post reported that Netflix declined to comment on why they had taken the decision. But fans have even started a change.org petition for Netflix to bring back the show.

At the same time, Netflix producing and renewing some of the most regressive and cringe-worthy shows like Kissing Booth or even Indian Matchmaking is not helping the stream’s credibility in these times. 

4. Poor Ratings

Many believe the streaming giant has failed to make its talk shows stick, with a host of such shows cancelled recently. According to Verge.com, cancellation of Patriot Act was the symptom of a larger ailment. 

Break with Michelle Wolf, The Joel McHale Show With Joel McHale, and Chelsea were all canned after one or two seasons; Norm Macdonald Has a Show, The Fix, and My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman couldn’t generate the consistent type of online hype Netflix.

Patriot Act cancelled by Netflix
Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj | Source: IMDb

As for Patriot Act, while the show did generate conversation, and people seemed to tune in for Minhaj’s episode, Verge believes it may not have been enough.

However, the fact that this show hurts more than any regular talk show is because of the relevance of its topics covered in the last two years.

“Netflix may have plenty of informational programming like the “Explained” co-productions with Vox and the recently-released “Connected”…[but] 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.”

Indiewire.com

Noting the importance of four topics covered last August and during the pandemic itself speak volumes about the quality of this show.

Video game development may not be an issue that’s top of mind right now, but it touched the topic of worker exploitation which has rippled through the last six months.

The rise in opioid overdoses during the quarantine brings a new perspective to the show’s episode on the explosion of fentanyl use.

While the topics of public transportation insufficiencies and the dangers of cruise ships proved the show’s prescience in looking at issues that the current health crisis would exacerbate.

Going forth, those in power won’t even be able to blame it all on that one pandemic either, thanks to voices of reason like Minhaj.

 So maybe fans are not all wrong in contending the streamer could have compensated for the show’s alleged poor ratings, weighing its social impact and value as much more.

5. Killer Controversy

However, some are suspicious that 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 the past, Netflix has been in the crosshairs for an alleged anti-Hindu sentiment for a list of shows, including Sacred Games, Leila and Patriot Act. 

Hasan’s coverage of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s re-election in 2019 and the Kashmir issue got him kicked out of the Howdy, Modi event held in the US last year.

Ironically, Hasan was celebrated as an Indian American celebrity during the event but was not allowed to attend it. 

It is no secret that India remains a major market for the streaming giant which is only increasing in size during the COVID lockdown. 

6. The Joke that Probably Did It

One particular joke of Minhaj’s from June 2020 went viral soon after the cancellation news broke out. In this, he had called out private corporations, including Netflix, for evading taxes. 

Check it out here-

There were also those like The Telegraph who recalled another recent controversy. In June 2020, an Indian-American journalist accused the show of breeding a hostile work environment for women of color.

She said she was compelled to speak out because of his episode on racism, which she said: “reeked of hypocrisy”. 

However, Minhaj was aware of the traps that came with doing topical comedy on an international streamer like Netflix.

Maybe the idea was doomed even before it was executed, but Minhaj didn’t seem to think so. Speaking to the New York Times in 2018, he said,

“If we get this wrong, well, it’s what everyone predicted. But if we get this right?” (His eyes widened and a grin spread across his face.) “It feels like ‘Rocky’ 1 all over again.”

Hasan Minhaj

We are glad Minhaj thought what he did or we would have missed out on a gem that Patriot Act in a sea of coal that Netflix seems to be turning into every day. 

Don’t forget to comment below and let us know what do you think could be the reason the Patriot Act was canceled and if you agree with any of ours. 

Sources: The Verge, NPR, IndieWire

Originally Written By Epic Dope

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