Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj: Season 1/ Episodes 1 & 2 “Affirmative Action & Saudi Arabia” [Series Premiere] – Recap/ Review

Title card for Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj
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Unlike most new political shows, you finally feel like you’re not watching something inspired by, or ripping off, the Daily Show.


Network
Netflix
CreatorHasan Minhaj, Prashanth Venkataranmanujam
Director(s)Richard A. Preuss
Head Writer(s)Prashanth Venkataranmanujam
Air Date10/28/2018
Genre(s)Talk Show, Political Program
Good If You LikeMuslim & Indian Jokes

Jokes About Bougie Topics Like Art House Films

Political Humor

Your News In A Edutainment Style

Introduced This Episode
HostHasan Minhaj

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The Introduction

With no desk on stage and the kind of screens you’d expect from a tech conference, Minhaj seems to take note of Samantha Bee’s show. Just with him using the budget you’d see for correspondents on a more sophisticated screen backdrop. Which helps him stand apart and keep you engaged as he presents a case brought up by Edward Blum to end affirmative action as well as speak about Saudi Prince Muhammad Bin Salman. Two topics which, of course, are spoken about to a certain degree but then Minhaj takes advantage of how he has a different take on these two stories.

For with Minhaj being both Indian and Muslim, it gives him a unique take on these two stories. As an Asian American, who are the “victims” of the affirmative action case, he presents how culture plays a role in this fight. Why, like Abigail Fisher, there is a certain sense of privilege, audacity, if not assumptions in play here. Making so the things which should be examined, like Harvard apparently thinking Asian Americans score low on personality tests, are ignored. That and how often legacy students get a quick and easy ride into schools.

But, he also highlights, to balance the story, how Chinese immigrants brought about ESL to American schools. Much less, bringing in some comedy about Tiger Dads, Indian uncle jokes and habits, to give you some texture to a story that we’ve heard before. Truly giving us some diversity beyond Minhaj’s skin color.

Hasan Minhaj posing, like he is giving a tech conference.
Hasan Minhaj.

Which also comes into play when it comes to his religion. For if there is one thing this two-episode premiere does, it introduces you to two prominent aspects that formed Minhaj’s opinion on the world. Being brought up as an Asian American was one, then episode two, about Saudi Arabia, addresses him being Muslim.

But, one thing you have to enjoy about Minhaj is, like many a comedic news reporter, he brings himself into the story. However, taking it a step further, he doesn’t just bring himself with anecdotes that are self-deprecating. Speaking on Saudi Arabia, he speaks on how a country which represents such a small portion of the Muslim population has a large effect on them worldwide. Be it their sponsorship of the 9/11 terrorist attacks which changed the safety and perception of Muslims in the western world forever. Also, there are the alleged actions (said for legal reasons) of Muhammad Bin Salman.

All of which leads to him finding this nearly perfect balance. Minhaj finds a way to bring technology into his routine, without making it a huge distraction; he reports on the news, while keeping it from getting boring; and figures a way to make it personal without making it seem the sole reason you should care about any given story, is because of how it affects him. Even with both stories directly dealing with two, of the many things, which has made Hasan Minhaj the man, and comic, he is today.

First Impression: Positive (Watch This)

Title card saying: "Indians: As Bad As We Want To Be"

Like many, I’ve stopped watching full episodes of political comedy and waited for them to post highlights on YouTube or just would stick to the interviews. Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj might be one of the first, in a long time, which really pushes you to watch the full episode. For without a desk, a sophisticated screen, and Minhaj owning up to all he is, religious-wise, ethnic wise, and that he is definitely bougie, you feel like you get the whole person.

Making it where Patriot Act comes off as the least formal, and least preachy, political commentary show that clearly has a budget behind it. For with a fervor that only someone from two expressive cultures could bring, with the approach of a charismatic cousin who didn’t get into the Ivy league, but acts like he did,  Hasan Minhaj is one to watch. Also, perhaps the first one since John Oliver who seemingly got there can be only one Daily Show – Do something different.


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