Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj (2018-2020) was an American comedy web television talk show (aka "visual investigative comedy podcast" or "Woke TED Talk") hosted by former The Daily Show correspondent Hasan Minhaj streamed weekly on Netflix. It aimed to "explore the modern cultural and political landscape with depth and sincerity."
Yes, they may have named the first political talk show hosted by an Indian-American Muslim after controversial legislation enacted by the George W. Bush administration to supposedly fight America's War on Terror. That doesn't necessarily mean they're trying to be provocative...
The show ran for six seasons with 40 full episodes and streamed its final episode on July 19th, 2020. The show was officially cancelled on August 18th, 2020, according to an announcement made on Minhaj's twitter.
This web talk show contains examples of:
- Bollywood Nerd: Hasan leans into his Indian heritage while also gleefully geeking out about niche topics.Hasan: Hooverville. Look how that turned out. Sorry, that's an AP Gov joke. You don't get that, you didn't take AP Gov.
- Biting-the-Hand Humor:
- Hasan admits that his episode about the shopping website Amazon is this trope since all Netflix shows are hosted on Amazon-owned servers.
- On the episode about fast fashion (clothes that are designed quickly to capture current fashion trends) and how the high volume of clothing produced by it contributes to pollution, Hasan claims that nobody needs such a high volume of clothing... before the Netflix logo appears behind him; Netflix of course being known for its high volume of programming.
- In one segment arguing that the United States should be run by somebody like NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, he notes that Silver stood his ground when China stopped broadcasting NBA games after a general manager showed support for the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, even though the NBA could lose $400 million because of it. Hasan then wonders what kind of corporation was willing to lose money standing up to a dictator... and he isn't able to finish the word "dictator" before being cut off by the Netflix logo, referencing how Netflix complied with Saudi Arabia's order to ban an episode in the country that was critical of the Saudi Arabian monarchy.
- In a segment about return free tax filing, Hasan introduces a website the show made to make finding free tax filing options easier to find online. He goes on to talk about the website's Tax Avoidance Hall of Fame, full of big companies that don't pay any income tax, like Amazon, Halliburton and... Netflix.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: He sometimes comments on how he thinks the show is going as he's doing it and/or how much fun he has with something in the production.
- Cassandra Truth: One of Hasan's guests from China finds it hard to believe that Hasan was once a contestant on a MTV dating show and thinks he's making it up which cuts to the next scene where Hasan shows the audience a picture of a younger him on that show.
- Couch Gag / Freeze-Frame Bonus: If you look very closely during the intro, you will realize one of the protest signs seen on it is different in each episode, and each message is related to the topic that will be discussed in the episode.
- Crapsaccharine World: Many episodes expose America as this. Behind the Patriotic Fervor and good reputation there are a lot of problems on a legal and sociopolitical level.
- Hypocritical Humor: Hasan points out how the Saudi government ordered Netflix to remove the episode that critizes the Crown Prince on the grounds that it was insentive to the country's Islamic culture yet they didn't order Netflix to remove another episode that critizes Saudi Arabia and the many cooking shows and documentaries about pork (since the animal is considered Haram to Muslims) hosted on Netflix.
- Insane Troll Logic: In the Debt Fucked game show segment in "Student Loans", the game show announcer stated that forbearance is a worse option than an income-based repayment (IBR) plan because forbearance would drive up a borrower's amount of interest required and so an IBR plan would better. The truth is an IBR plan would also drive up a borrower's amount of interest required.
- It's Personal: The episode about fentanyl has some particularly dark and somber moments as Hasan talks about how he personally knew not just one, but multiple people who have died from accidental fentanyl overdoses.
Hasan: I used to not take my mental health seriously. I pushed it to the side for years because I was so focused on my career. I thought anxiety and panic attacks were totally normal. I was like: "look, a constant state of panic will give me an edge. If my heart feels like it's exploding, that's how I know I'm alive."
- In the episode about mental health, Hasan mentions that the subject hits close to home for him, as he has struggled with anxiety and panic attacks himself, and that he has benefitted a lot from therapy.
- Keet: Hasan bounces around the set and changes the "view to camera" angles like a hyperactive kid, occasionally coming to an abrupt halt when he wants to make a serious point.
- Motor Mouth: His normal speech has a moderately impressive words per minute rate, even before he occasionally goes all out (eg. when he summarised the conflict in Yemen in under 40 seconds).
- No Such Thing as Bad Publicity: Invoked. Criticizing Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman in the show's second episode resulted in that episode being pulled by Netflix in Saudi Arabia. This only increased public awareness of the show and even got bipartisan support for the show in the US, which is talked about in a subsequent episode.Hasan: For the first time in my life, I was a bipartisan icon. Even Breitbart defended me! Breitbart! Do you know how hard it was for Breitbart? They would look at picture of me and MBS and be like, "Which one is browner?"
- OOC Is Serious Business: His short special episode responding to the death of George Floyd is devoid of his usual humour (though some potentially darkly-comic Smash Cut instances are still there), and his message is definitely dripping with Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped.
- Younger and Hipper: Aware of the plethora of politically orientated talk shows, Hasan has stated that he made a conscious decision not to wear a suit or sit behind a desk, because he didnt want to be just seen as "Indian John Oliver". The set uses a lot of technical graphics and Hasan's speech veers from Desi in jokes to Lit AF speak.