For the last decade, hashtags like #representationmatters and #diversityandinclusion have transcended digital campaigns and become actionable, measurable opportunities.
“Patriot Act” by Hasan Minhaj and Prashanth Venkataramanujam was another example of that, with brown voices and faces executing an idea in their own way, with the backing of a major streaming platform.
Audiences around the world felt seen and heard as the team behind Patriot Act crafted immensely impactful yet consumable content into funny, quick-witted 30 minute segments. From covering America’s COVID response and the Black Lives Matter movement, to dissecting the hierarchy and barriers of entry to the modern-day marijuana conglomerates, Minhaj’s show was truly one of its kind.
Communities near and far were both champions and critics of the series. Saudi Arabia’s response to his criticisms landed him on no-fly lists in the Middle East, and the show’s commentary on Modi’s policies led to being locked out of the ‘Howdy Modi” event in Texas.
Patriot Act in many ways felt like justified defiance, it felt like advocacy and criticism of injustices and fraudulent practices were being discussed in an open forum, on one of the world’s largest stages, with the conversation being led by a South Asian man.
But just as we began to relish Mihaj’s presence and awaited the next topic he would de-construct, Netflix decided “Patriot Act” will not be renewed for a seventh season.
The news was met with much disappointment from supporters and fans of Minhaj and the show, due to its cutting edge critique, that was accessible and digestible, while being informative.
As many mourn the end of what feels like a victory for South Asian creatives in film and tv, many ex Patriot Act employees have taken to Twitter with accounts of their unpleasant experiences working on the show.
While Minhaj and the rest of the team have yet to address the claims from employees, it is certain that the show itself will leave a void on Netflix's platform, and for many who enjoyed the representation.
Will Netflix provide context on the cancellation? Will it find a format that makes talk shows just as profitable and effective as their fictional sitcom and reality series?
We can’t be sure, but Minhaj dives into some of that in an interview with Variety Magazine.
He closes his interview with this “If you’re a creative of colour, now is the time,” he said. “If you have a definitive voice or a project or thing that you want to put forward, I would say, just be unapologetic. Go for it.”
As sad as we are to see Patriot Act come to an end, perhaps this time is meant for us to work on that script, submit that treatment, sign up for that class and start writing our own narratives.
There’s room for all of us.
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