(Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.)
The Show: Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj
Where You Can Stream It: Netflix
The Pitch: A weekly news show infused with energy and a millennial perspective, Patriot Act did deep dives into some news stories that all of the other big news shows often didn’t cover – everything from hype culture to Indian elections to fast fashion.
Why It’s Essential Quarantine Viewing: Netflix canceled this series earlier this year, which feels like a huge loss. Patriot Act not only had a vibrant, charming, personable host with a valuable and underrepresented perspective, but it was also the most slickly produced news show on television. Its giant screens and incredibly detailed customized graphics, swooping in with a chart or a statistic to highlight a point being made, became a defining characteristic of the show and another way for it to stand out in a crowded field of late-night shows. But while the show aired weekly, many of its topics are evergreen, and if your watch lists are running a little dry at this point in the pandemic, I encourage you to fill the gaps by catching up with this insightful and often hilarious whirlwind of a show.
Yet another talented comedian to emerge from the proving grounds of The Daily Show, Hasan Minhaj parlayed that talent (as well as the success of his excellent stand-up special, Homecoming King) into hosting Patriot Act for Netflix in 2018. In the two years it was on, the series won a myriad of awards, among them an Emmy and a Peabody. It was one of the smartest shows on television, but it never felt like it was talking down to its audience: with the aid of its top-tier graphics team, the show frequently broke down complex topics in a relatable, easy-to-understand way. And between jokes, Minhaj would passionately wax rhapsodic about things that mattered to viewers: things like student loans, the dark side of the video game industry, and why doing taxes is such a giant pain in the ass.
Incisive, enlightening, and always entertaining, Patriot Act had the potential to keep audiences engaged for another decade. If a different streaming service is interested in resurrecting one of the best news shows of the past few years, I’d love to see it live on. But if not, this show helped get me through two of the most hellish years in my lifetime, and I’ll always be grateful for that.
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