Review: ‘Patriot Act’ is back with more punches

Hasan Minhaj in 'Patriot Act' (Photo via YouTube.)

Hasan Minhaj is back, and he’s got more hot takes on divisive topics, tackling the largest players in the game with an act that blends exposé with stand-up comedy routine.

His show, Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj, started streaming new episodes this past Sunday — less than a week after Netflix CEO Reed Hastings made headlines for defending the company’s January decision to censor Minhaj’s content in Saudi Arabia.

An episode of Patriot Act that criticized the Saudi government was taken off streaming in Saudi Arabia at the Saudi royal family’s request. Hastings’ quote that Netflix isn’t in the “truth to power” — and is solely here to entertain people — made the rounds online, drawing criticism from the likes of Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Twitter.

Minhaj’s show is, of course, exactly that. From breaking down the affirmative action myth within the Asian American community to inviting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada onto the show and shaming him for failing indigenous people and selling arms to the Saudis, Minhaj is bold and declarative with the truth — sometimes, dangerously so. Saudi Arabia’s beef with him is no laughing matter, even though he invites us to laugh at it on his show.

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It’s too early to tell whether Minhaj will take on Hastings’s comments sometime this season. It wouldn’t be the first time he criticized the company on his show, but for now, it seems he’s content with another contentious issue — not authoritarian regimes, but mental health coverage under private insurance companies.

Minhaj’s newest episode throws private insurance companies into the spotlight for abusing and breaking the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which requires physical and mental illnesses to be considered the same way when it comes to coverage.

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As usual, Minhaj didn’t avoid calling out people and companies by name. The new episode also used a skit with Anna Kendrick to add some more variety to the show’s layout. As the show has gone on, Minhaj has increasingly used formats other than his TED Talk-esque routine.

Already in its fifth season in just over a year of production, Patriot Act has been churning out episodes. The quick turnaround has provided content that’s as relevant as it is funny. Minhaj started out pretty bold: His first season not only tackled the Saudi crown prince, but the oil industry, Amazon and immigration policy. But his episodes have become even more dramatic — he’s now actually bringing notable figures on and publicly grilling them about their positions.

Patriot Act had a glowing start, and if the newest season continues on the path Minhaj has laid out for it, it’ll surely continue to shine. As to whether Minhaj will continue to poke at important issues or be stopped by Netflix, we’ll have to wait and see.

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