For Millennials. By Millennials.
Recently, toxic work culture and work environments on talk shows have been in the news a lot. The Ellen DeGeneres Show has recently been under fire a lot for not treating its employees right. As a result, they fired three top producers from the show. But, it seems the problem of toxic work culture is bigger than just Ellen’s show, unsurprisingly. Two brown women have recently come forward and claimed that the ‘Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj’ also had a toxic work culture. After them, a number of women of color came forward and narrated their horrible experiences on the show.
‘Patriot Act’ has received a lot of praise over the years for its genuine and sincere analysis of issues related to politics and pop culture. But, that was not just because of Hasan Minhaj’s own brilliance, but the effort of his entire crew. However, it seems that the ‘Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj’ did not practice what it preached. It failed to protect the very women without whom the show could not have been a success.
Women of color accuse the ‘Patriot Act’ of having a toxic work culture
Sheila V Kumar, a journalist and editorial producer on the ‘Patriot Act,’ went on Twitter back in June and made some serious allegations against the show. She said she had “never been more unhappy” than she was working on the ‘Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj’.
Moreover, Sheila mentioned that she isn’t just talking about a few inconveniences she faced on the show. In fact, the ‘Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj’ had the worst work environment of any place she had worked on in the industry.
Sadly, Sheila was not the only employee who had a terrible experience on the ‘Patriot Act’. Recently, Pakistani writer Nur Nasreen also revealed her disappointing experience while working on the show. She revealed how she was “humiliated and gaslit, targeted and ignored” while working on the ‘Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj’. It was so terrible for her that she even went into depression. She tweeted:
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. Tweeting this will probably not help me or anyone who has suffered.
— nur nasreen (@Nuri_ibrahim) August 20, 2020
Nur also acknowledged the importance of her work and the brilliance of the show. She deemed the show necessary, but questioned if it was “worth the mental anguish”. Furthermore, she also wished that ‘Patriot Act’ had “truly practiced the progressive ethos they cultivated on screen”:
But I wonder if it was worth the mental anguish I went through over my last few months there. 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.
— nur nasreen (@Nuri_ibrahim) August 20, 2020
After Nur and Sheila, many women of color came forward with allegations against ‘Patriot Act’
As Nur Nasreen’s thread went viral, other women who worked on the show also revealed their own difficult experiences. Former Producer Amy Zhang mentioned that Sheila and Nur were “not the only WOC 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.
They were not the only WOC who went through this. https://t.co/yED47UaoXB
— Amy Zhang (@azhang852) August 24, 2020
Another former employee Wil Kauffman also revealed how women of color “faced mistreatment while employed by the show” while recognizing the importance of the work they did on ‘Patriot Act’:
While Patriot Act should be celebrated for the underrepresented voice it brought to a blizzard white genre, it should also be condemned. Nur is my brilliant friend who, among other WOC, faced mistreatment while employed by the show. Absolutely no workplace is immune to prejudice. https://t.co/1s6BlM4uI6
— Wil Kauffman (@wilburman4) August 22, 2020
Finally, the employees and women of color who came forward with their allegations also got external support. The audience editor for the New York Times Magazine, Iva Dixit also tweeted in support of Nur Nasreen. She mentioned how ‘Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj’ was “not just one star’s brilliance and charisma”:
Even though Netflix pulled the plug on the show just a few days before Nur’s revelation, it still puts the show under a very bad light.
What now for the show?
Even though the show is dead, it does raise a lot of questions on the ethical standards it preached and what’s going on in the rest of the industry. ‘Patriot Act’ always preached about worker’s rights, labor unions, and the eradication of racism among brown families as well. However, it itself failed to uphold all these standards for the women of color that worked on their own show. This happened despite the host being a brown man himself.
For now, Netflix has not commented on the allegations and neither has Hasan Minhaj. And currently, it’s unclear whether there would be an investigation regarding this matter or if they’ll face any repercussions.