An irreverent piece of political comedy, Patriot Act is a more modern twist on the traditional late-night talk show; reminiscent of John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight but more animated and young. Hosted by Hasan Minhaj, Patriot Act has made a name for itself in the short amount of time it has been around, though it is a relatively recent addition to Netflix’s vast catalog of viewing content.
Minhaj operates in a format that has him standing and surrounded by stunning visual graphics that effectively display the most relevant pieces of information to whatever he is talking about at any given time; a stark contrast to the often stagnant layout of traditional talk-shows. In the show, Minhaj tackles the controversial and mundane with the same exuberance and passion. From the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia to the public transport system in the United States, Minhaj is a master at speaking about a variety of different topics in a way that does not make the viewer uncomfortable or uninterested.
Minhaj brings his own passions and hobbies into his work with episodes such as “Hip Hop and Streaming,” “Supreme” and “the Dark Side of the Video Game Industry.” These episodes take otherwise generally looked-over matters and discuss them in more serious terms. For example, he has talked about how fashion brand Supreme has taken over and influenced the fashion industry. He has also discussed how poorly video game designers are treated and the poor working conditions they operate in.
The show has garnered a great deal of attention since its first episode on October 28, 2018. It has since featured the likes of Bernie Sanders, Justin Trudeau, Andrew Yang, and many more to comment on everything from the Canadian general election to the state of retirement in the United States. Minhaj brings a unique voice to the table, but he understands the need to supplement it with people who have more tangible experience, and different perspectives than him.
One of the reasons the show stands out among a crowd of others lies in Minhaj’s background. An Indian-American, Muslim man, Minhaj is strikingly different than many of his peers in the talk-show and entertainment industry at large, something he isn’t shy about noting. “I’m the brown one! That’s why you have to watch,” he said when asked about his show.
He is right. Minhaj has been as unapologetically Indian as he can be, and at the same time entirely American. He reminds us that no matter who we are, we all have roots around the world, and we’re connected by the major events shaping everything from technology to politics. Patriot Act is an ideal addition to any person’s watchlist, it also exists in an authentic manner in which representation or opinion does not feel forced. The existence of the show is a manifestation of entertainment’s need to better reflect the demographic realities of American society, and that makes it all the more special.
It is only fitting as we evolve into a new decade that we further advance and acclaim intelligent, yet representative media that does not exclude, and makes an active effort to appeal to a new generation of Americans – and that is exactly what the show does.
Netflix doesn’t share viewer ratings, but by its prominent placement, diversity of perspectives, and focus on civic responsibility, Patriot Act is already a success. Minhaj, with his incredibly eclectic show, has successfully used comedy to expertly address complicated topics with a unique, visually compelling, and interesting platform that was needed in entertainment.
Patriot Act releases new episodes every Sunday and has full episodes available on both Netflix and Youtube.