I just watched the first two episodes of Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj on Netflix and was blown away by them. Each show focuses largely on one issue, somewhat like John Oliver does, but whereas Oliver mixes hard news and analysis in the form of a news show with him as the anchor seated behind a desk, Minhaj uses a high-energy stand-up comedy format to mix hard news with analysis, with him moving around on a stage with large screens behind and below him and talking in a fast pace. He, like Oliver, provides lots of facts and background information that one does not often hear even on news shows but interspersed with plenty of comedic analyses. It really kept me glued to the show. The fact that I agreed with everything he said on both shows may had aided my enjoyment.
The first episode dealt with the court case brought by Asian-Americans complaining that the admissions policies of Harvard University discriminated against them. Minhaj blasted them for being the willing pawns of white groups who are using them in their goal of completely dismantling of affirmative action in college admission and ridiculed them for their complete lack of self-awareness, noting bitingly that the only ‘suffering’ that Asian-American students experience by not being able to get into Harvard is that they might have to attend (Gasp! Oh, the horror!) Cornell. I totally agree with him on this issue and hope the Asian-Americans lose their case.
The second program was a brutal expose of Saudi Arabia and its awful leader Mohammed bin Salman and the atrocious policies that he and the kingdom follow, and that it took the murder of Jamal Khashogggi to make people realize that they had been conned by this ruthless and bloody autocrat who had painted himself as a reformer. The last five minutes were used to point out that Indian-American immigrants have reached equality in America in that they are now producing not just doctors and engineers and lawyers but also utterly corrupt and greedy corporate CEOs and ghastly public figures like Bobby Jindal and Dinesh D’Souza.
The fact that Minhaj is a Muslim Indian-American means that he can tackle topics and take a position on some issues that white comedians might fear to take for fear of appearing to attack a minority, just like female comedians can tackle issues and say things that male ones may shy away from. This is why it is so important that there be wide diversity of the people doing these shows, not because we want to give employment to a wider range of people but because we, the audience, deserve a wider range of views presented to us.
Netflix seems to have put up both shows on YouTube so here they are.
johnson catman says
Wow. I hope that Hasan Minhaj does not plan a pilgrimage to Mecca anytime in the future. I would seriously fear for his life.
Marcus Ranum says
That was pretty good! He’s got great timing and energy.
I thought the set was a bit distracting. I kept catching myself wondering if they had a back projection system under the floor or if it was LEDs or just bluescreened in…
Given Minhaj’s comment on what the majority of Muslims think about the Saudis, perhaps it might be possible to remove Mecca from Saudi jurisdiction? In much the same way that the Vatican is not part of Italy.
Mano Singham says
Said Arabia will never relinquish control of Mecca. They need to be seen as the birthplace of Islam in order to give their ghastly version of Islam any credibility.
Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says
Weirdly, I saw the first episode and I thought it was a net positive and I’d watch it again, but I would definitely not say my experience of it was “great”. I get the references about Asian-American/PI-American parents having high educational expectations for the children, and I’m a complete law nerd, so you’d think that first episode would be right up my alley, but the jokes were just too predictable to me, and though some of the info on the current case was absolutely new to me, the info about the previous cases was well-known to me.
Maybe the jokes in other shows will work better for me, or maybe my sense of humor is just always going to be different from that of Minhaj, but I’ll continue to watch because the content is solid and the presentation is well done without (if my future reactions remain similar to my first impressions) ever considering the show “great”. On the other hand, I’ve only watched the first one, so there’s the real possibility that it will appeal more to my tastes as the show develops over time.
But whatever happens, the show itself is good and I hope it continues; any differences I have with it are matters of taste.