The Diplomat, smart and fascinating television

Keri Russell talks on the phone in The Diplomat

The Diplomat stars Keri Russell as Kate Wyler, the newly appointed US Ambassador to the UK. It wasn’t the job she wanted. She was thrown into it in mid crisis when somebody blew a giant hole in the side of a British Navy ship.

The Diplomat takes off running and never slows down. It’s not an action series, but a fast-paced swivel and pivot through foreign policy, intelligence, political ambitions and secret intrigues. The characters are smart, the dialog is snappy, the surprises and twists are numerous. It’s fascinating and exciting and very well done.

The series was created by Debora Cahn, who has credits like West Wing and Homeland to build on with this series. She crafted a story with high stakes consequences, outstanding characters, a dash of humor, some insightful personal lives, and a lot to like.

Keri Russell and Rufus Sewell in The Diplomat

Ambassador Kate Wyler and her husband Hal (Rufus Sewell), a former ambassador himself, arrive in London in a crumbling marriage. They work together well and understand each other, but don’t trust each other. Their relationship is both powerful and broken. It informs the potential meltdown in global affairs in interesting ways.

Kate Wyler is a great character. I think I love her. She’s two steps ahead of everyone most of the time. She wears black pant suits and sensible shoes, hates dresses, and needs a good haircut. Keri Russell is fantastic in this part – taking charge, striding around with her hands in her pockets, her brain racing through possibilities at warp speed.

Some characters and a plot

Kate’s focus is figuring out who bombed the ship and planning an appropriate response. Was it Iran, Russia or someone else entirely? The British PM Nicol Trowbridge (Rory Kinnear) is ready to start a war to make himself look strong, even if they don’t have the bombers scoped out yet.

Keri Russell and Ato Essandoh in The Diplomat

Kate works closely with Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy Stuart Hayford (Ato Essandoh), shown whispering in her ear above. He’s good at his job, but Kate is unexpected and challenging.

Other important characters include UK Foreign Secretary Austin Dennison (David Gyasi), and Chief of CIA Station Eidra Graham (Ali Ahn). These are the people she’s supposed to deal with as she tries to prevent an all out war.

Lots of other people have roles in the story. President Rayburn (Michael McKean) and his White House Chief of Staff Billie Appiah (Nana Mensah) have secret plans for Kate when this crisis is over. The American Secretary of State Miguel Ganon (Miguel Sandoval) has a say in things.

There are a lot of powerful people who don’t always know what the others are doing or why. Kate has to grasp what they are all up to and prevent a war. It’s daunting.

Nana Mensah, Keri Russell and Ali Ahn talk on balcony in The Diplomat
Billie Appiah, Kate Wyler, and Eidra Graham share intelligence and information frequently

In a series like this one, the job of the diplomat is to defuse the situation and ensure the peace. With so many different countries and interests involved, it’s a high wire act. This excellent cast has plenty of well-written story to work with. The result is television excellence.

This Netflix series had one woman director: Liza Johnson directed 3 of the 8 episodes. All 8 episodes are available now. There’s a surprise cliffhanger at the end with the central question over who plotted the bombing still unanswered. Those two facts give me hope for another season of this excellent series.

Have you caught this one yet? What was your reaction to it?

12 thoughts on “The Diplomat, smart and fascinating television”

  1. David John Keohane

    Fast paced action with husband pulling the strings to propel his cherished spouse forward to broach her full capacity in crisis handling lining her up for senior post
    He is dedicated to her body & soul but uses contraversial means to obtain radical results as players on the internationl scene.

  2. I’m adding this as we speak. I had seen the trailer..but thought it might be another Anatomy of a Scandal -which was soooooo good. so good to know it holds its own

      1. christopher swaby

        Madam Secretary was the only analogue i could find. and as much as i enjoyed that show, i enjoyed this series more. Kate Wyler felt real to me. and her uncompromising professionalism was so engaging. the relationship with her husband came across as realistic – two strong smart powerful people, negotiating their roles in the marriage as they work out their new roles in the world.

        hard to imagine that cliffhanger without a season 2 already greenlighted (greenlit?)

  3. David John Keohane

    “Don’t shoot the messanger comes to mind”
    Mireb Nindze (Mc mafia) ext… would fit the part of ‘Lavarov’ I agree the profile background is simular to ‘Mme Secretary’ only there sense of humour & family values were depicted. Where as here it’s high stakes drama & compromise.
    I feel sorry for Ato Essandoh Deputy Chief of Mission who went from mondane protocol role to a juggler for Kate, Hal, & Eidra severing his emotional ties.

  4. I love Kate too and cannot wait for season two. For me it was more West Wing than Madame Secretary but I loved both so I am in heaven. Hope they expand Eidra’s part a bit since I love her too. Rufus Sewell is smoking in this.

    1. I was very happy to see they were renewed. So often the things you think are good get canceled. Yay for this one. Also, confession on my part— I’ve never seen West Wing.

  5. David John Keohane

    Netflix just confirmed the planned making of a second series leaving many wondering how the story will unfold.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top
WordPress Cookie Notice by Real Cookie Banner