Two days ago, comedian Hasan Minhaj announced on Twitter that his popular Netflix talk-show Patriot Act has been cancelled.
After 39 episodes across six seasons, Patriot Act has seen its fair share of controversy and criticism, particularly in 2019 when Netflix removed an episode from streaming in Saudi Arabia after complaints it was critical of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his role in the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Minhaj himself later voiced his criticism against Netflix’s decision to remove the episode.
Also in 2019, the talk-show series won a Peabody Award and an Emmy for outstanding motion design, with many fans attributing the show’s success to the graphics behind the host. Around the same time, Time magazine named Minhaj as one of the 100 most influential people in the world and comedian Trevor Noah wrote: “We’ve needed Hasan’s voice since Donald Trump came down that golden escalator and turned immigrants and Muslim’s into his targets”. Minhaj himself gained support for his tell-it-like-it-is style, as well as the open discussion surrounding his background as the Muslim son of immigrants from India. The first weekly US talk-show hosted by an Indian American, the series found itself discussing topical issues from ranging from the Indian elections, censorship in China, protests in Sudan, mental health, and more recently, the murder of George Floyd, where Minhaj passionately spoke out about Asian anti-blackness.
Despite its popularity and support from fans, Patriot Act is only one of a group of talk-shows Netflix has cancelled, including Chelsea hosted by comedian Chelsea Handler, The Break With Michelle Wolf and The Joel McHale Show With Joel McHale. Whilst streaming has gained popularity especially in recent months, apparently, the one thing it fails at is late-night talk-shows.
Recently, as fans have taken to social media to show their disappointment at Netflix’s decision, a petition urging Netflix to reconsider has gained approximately 7,000 signatures. This is interesting considering Netflix rarely releases viewing figures, and the outpouring of support following this cancellation suggests the show’s outreach was further than expected, especially with regards to Asian Americans.
Words by Meghna Amin