Hasan Minhaj's Patriot Act accused of being a toxic workplace for women of colour

Published 25 Aug, 2020 01:43pm

Images Staff

"That show was not just one star’s brilliance and charisma, the people whose labor made it what it was were treated horribly."

After six sensational seasons and a total of 40 episodes, award-winning Netflix original Patriot Act came to an abrupt end with host Hasan Minhaj bidding goodbye and expressing gratitude to fans across the world.

While the show was sincere in its depth of exploring modern cultural and political landscapes through important conversations; it apparently lacked effort in practicing what it preached, most importantly, protecting the women who were the backbone in building its success.

Back in June, journalist and editorial producer, Sheila V Kumar had written on Twitter that she had "never been more unhappy" than when she was working at Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj.

While she didn't elaborate, she wasn't the only employee who had a disappointing experience.

Pakistani writer Nur Nasreen also opened up about her time on set, voicing the ordeal she faced when the cameras were off.

"A lot of people have asked me to talk about Patriot Act. I avoided it because each time I relive the experience of being humiliated and gaslit, targeted and ignored, I sink back into days of depression", Nur wrote.

Acknowledging the necessity of the work they were putting out and the massive opportunity she received because of the show, she was sure that tweeting now would probably not help her, or anyone who has suffered.

"But I wonder if it was worth the mental anguish I went through over my last few months there," she continued. "I wish we still had Patriot Act. I also wish they truly practiced the progressive ethos they cultivated on screen. Then they would really deserve all your love."

As Nasreen's tweets started getting traction, many involved with Patriot Act took to point out how it was not a one-man show, but instead built on the labour of many, who were treated dreadfully.

"That show was not just one star’s brilliance and charisma," posted Iva Dixit from New York Times. "The people whose labor made it what it was were treated horribly, and I’ve watched my friends break down in real time from what they went through while working there."

Producer Amy Zhang extended support and sympathy, confirming that they were not the only women of colour who went through this.

"It was traumatizing to witness Sheila + Nur, intrepid producers who led some of our top episodes - Amazon, Saudi Arabia, Indian Elections—be silenced, treated unfairly + made to later doubt their own skills in a toxic newsroom," the producer exclaimed. "They were not the only WOC who went through this."

Previous employees too came forward to condemn workplace prejudice:

"Labor matters, labor is political, if you treat your workers badly but preach progressiveness otherwise it’ll catch up to ya."

While Patriot Act should be celebrated for what it was - raw, truthful in its social commentary and crucial in South Asian representation, it should also be condemned for what it failed to do - protect those responsible for its success.