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“The Diplomat” Season One Review: a Cutthroat Political Thriller

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By Ricky Valero

Where to stream it? Netflix (premieres April 20)

Starring: Keri Russell, Rufus Sewell, Ato Essandoh, Rory Kinnear, Ali Ahn, David Gyasi

Written by: Debora Cahn

Directed by: Liza Johnson, Simon Cellan Jones

Intro: The Diplomat Season One Review

The Diplomat follows Kate Wyler, a career diplomat who lands a massive job that will have an impact on not just her political future but her marriage.

We meet a married couple, Kate and Hal Wyler, discussing Kate's upcoming trip. She's getting ready to head to a job in Kabul to be their new ambassador. However, after a group of tourists blows up a British Navy ship, the White House wants to send Kate to London. Although she resisted, the President told her they had a plane waiting. Then, the Chief of Staff calls Stuart in the London office to tell him they will need a new Vice President, and she wants him to vet Kate.

From here, we see everyone around trying to help Kate become a viable candidate for the Vice Presidency. While Kate is far from the perfect person, she can get the job done, hence why she is on the list. As the plan falls apart at the seams, Kate's charm and ability grow keen on the President. This ends up forging a relationship that might be fruitful for everyone involved.

A strong cast

The power struggle between Kate and Hal is why this show is excellent. You have two people on the verge of divorce who are both in the midst of a power struggle with not just their relationships but their political careers. We've all seen Keri Russell and Rufus Sewell give some incredible performances in the past, which shouldn't be a surprise they both were brilliant in this. It's such a cutthroat relationship that is equipped with ruthless dialogue.

One scene I loved between the two was in episode three. We see Kate beats the hell out of Hal, and it is HILARIOUS. It was nice to have a little comedy here and there between these two while the seriousness of the show.

The supporting cast had some highlights for me with Ato Essandoh being a standout. He played Stuart, Kate's right-hand man when she came to London. I would say that he was equally as crucial to this cast as Russell and Sewell.

A carefully crafted political thriller

Whether you look at a movie like Argo or All The President's Men or TV shows like Homeland and The West Wing, we've seen some incredible political thrillers in various forms of media over the years. Of course, I mentioned the great ones, but we've seen this political thriller tackled so much that there is bad too. Because of this, you always walk into these shows with the hesitation of being something we've seen before.

The show was created by Debora Cahn, who wrote on shows I mentioned in Homeland and The West Wing. So you have someone who did their homework, took the best pieces of those shows, and brought them to The Diplomat. While I don't think Cahn has reinvented the wheel, she and her team wrote some of the most compelling thrillers I've seen this year. So much so that I would love to see them explore this more with a second season. The series has House of Cards vibes without the douche commentary.

Final Thoughts: The Diplomat Season One Review

The Diplomat continues Netflix's hot streak of incredible shows in 2023. It's a sharply written political thriller with a balanced enough script that makes you laugh and has you on the edge of your seat simultaneously. Russell and Sewell make for an electric combination that infuses the show with the delightful precision needed to make it great. I want more, and I hope Netflix gives it to us.

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Shall I Stream It?
Shall I Stream It? is your source for all things movies, TV, and streaming. From movie and TV reviews to all the latest info on cordcutting, we're here to help you decide what to watch and where to watch it.
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