“The Diplomat” ~ TV TALK with Bill Cushing


This month’s recommendation is a terrific new series called ‘The Diplomat’ on Netflix.

It premiered on April 20. It was Created by Debora Cahn, writer of such political dramas as ‘The West Wing’ and ‘Homeland, ‘The Diplomat’ very much intertwines both of those series. It has enough of West Wing style politics to keep political junkies happy, while maintaining the action and international intrigue of Homeland.
The show features the return to TV of Keri Russell, 5 years after the Emmy winning series ‘The Americans’ ended. Russell plays Kate Wyler, an experienced diplomat who’s worked in trouble zones her whole career.

She is getting ready to travel to Kabul and start her new position as the U.S.’s ambassador to Afghanistan. Her husband Hal (Rufus Sewell), another experienced diplomat and former ambassador himself, wants to go with her to help the transition, but she wants him to stay back and think of what his next move will be.

Hal gets a call from one of his contacts about an explosion on a British aircraft carrier. Meanwhile, Kate gets summoned to the White House, where President Rayburn (Michael McKean) tells her that he wants her to fill the vacant ambassadorship in the United Kingdom. Rayburn feels that the UK needs a competent and experienced hand after they discover Iran may be to blame for the aircraft carrier bombing.

Kate resists because she’s a boots-on-the-ground diplomat, not interested in a post that will force her to go to ceremonies and other events she considers to be fluff. What she doesn’t know is that she is being prepped to replace the Vice President, and the President feels this post will be a good trial run.

Kate, eventually accepts, and being an expert on Iran, doesn’t believe for a second that the Iranians are behind the attack on the British vessel. It’s going to take some work on her end to convince her U.S. and British colleagues that there may be another culprit.

Amidst all the political negotiations, secret meetings, and instances of intrigue, ‘The Diplomat’ has quite a bit of humor, much of it in involving Kate’s utter disdain for certain aspects of the job, such as photo shoots for glossy magazines and wearing fancy dresses to cocktail parties and high-end dinners. That’s not her style, whereas her sophisticated husband Hal looks like he was born for that life.
Kate’s relationship with Hal is another story. It appears as though their marriage might not be as solid as it looks. However, it’s important to her future as Vice President that they appear strong and stay together.

‘The Diplomat’ is an intelligent, well-constructed, and well written series, Cahn’s West Wing lineage really shows in the dialogue. The conversations are smart, fast, and sharp. The performances are top notch throughout, especially from Russell and Sewell. The witty banter between them is like something out of a 1930s screwball comedy and is one of the highlights of the show.

‘The Diplomat’ has been an immediate hit and has already been renewed for a second season. All 8 episodes are available to stream on Netflix.

Bill Cushing

If you have any questions about TV, you can email me at BillsTVTalk@gmail.com. I will answer all of your questions and will feature some of the questions I receive in a future Mailbag column. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @BillsTVTalk and on Facebook at BillsTVTalk for daily up-to-the-minute TV news and discussion. ◊