By Sumayah Abdulla
Banned in Saudi Arabia and swarmed with death threats over the Indian elections, Hasan Minhaj is back with a splash with season four of Patriot Act. The web series uses comedy to give new takes on social and political issues around the world. The American Muslim comedian has covered a diverse set of topics ranging from immigration in America and censorship in China to the worldwide impacts of hip-hop culture and brands like Supreme and Amazon. New episodes are released on Netflix every Sunday. Some of the most recent episodes discuss the dark side of the video game industry and the infrastructure of public transportation.
Hasan brings an honest, insightful voice to issues that are not always given exposure or deep analysis in traditional media outlets. He has a way of bringing up any topic, be it a hot political issue or segment of pop culture, and showing the audience why they should care. He presents the facts along with his opinions and a touch of comedy to keep you interested in every 25 minute episode. Comedy is the tool that he chooses to help dissect and critique relevant, serious issues. One of my favorite aspects of the show is that Hasan is not afraid to share who he is. He stays true to his identity by sometimes choosing specific topics and jokes that are relevant to Muslim or Desi segments of his audience. This can be seen in various episodes such as the ones about Saudi Arabia, the Indian elections, and cricket. He is not afraid to show that he is Indian, American, and Muslim all in one.
A disappointing part about Patriot Act is the use of profanity throughout episodes. The series is rated TV-MA which includes swearing and some vulgar jokes. It is usually related to the topic at hand or used for emphasis, but this stylistic choice may alienate Muslims looking for clean comedy to watch together as a family. This element of the series can be disheartening if you’re looking at Hasan as a prominent Muslim figure who has the potential to serve as a role model.
Patriot Act generates new perspectives and interest in political and social issues. The diversity in topics ensures that there is something for everyone, whether you’re more interested in global politics or sneakers. As a Muslim, it is difficult to recommend content that contains some questionable material. On the other hand, Hasan shares his authentic, imperfect self, an identity that I’m sure many of us can relate to. If the objectives of the show interest you, you can try out an episode or two and judge for yourself. If nothing else, you’re sure to learn something new!