Tuesday, August 01, 2023

TV Tuesday: The Diplomat

Our favorite TV show so far this summer has been The Diplomat starring Keri Russell. We normally watch TV the old-fashioned way, juggling multiple shows and watching one episode at a time, but with this one, we often finished an episode and immediately jumped right into the next! Our only complaint with this original, suspenseful, funny show was that there were only eight perfect episodes in the first season.

Keri Russell plays Kate Wyler, a career diplomat. She is expecting to be assigned as the first-ever US ambassador to Afghanistan, a position for which she is very well-prepared from her many years in the region. Instead, at the last minute, she is re-assigned to the UK, a diplomatic position that is usually mostly ceremonial, focused on pomp and circumstance. We soon see that Kate is not prepared for or happy with that kind of role; when a member of her staff asks what dress she will wear to an official event the first night, Kate explains that she packed two black suits and a burka. To complicate matters further, Kate's husband, Hal (played by Rufus Sewell), is accompanying her. Hal is also a diplomat, who has had multiple ambassadorships and is used to being in charge. He's about as happy with playing second fiddle as Kate is with being assigned to the UK. He's giving it a try to save their marriage, but Kate would prefer he were assigned to his own country, far from hers! Shortly after Kate and Hal arrive in the UK, though, things abruptly change when a UK ship is attacked, 25 people are killed, and it appears that Iran may be responsible. All of a sudden, Kate's experience in the Mideast is very valuable, and she is immersed in working with her UK colleague, Foreign Secretary Auston Dennison (played by David Gyasi), the Prime Minister (an obnoxious guy played by Rory Kinnear), and CIA agent Eidra Park (played by Ali Ahn). Events seem to be moving quickly toward all-out war, and Kate and her colleagues scramble to get accurate intelligence and make the right decisions.

The tension and suspense ramp up fast, right from the first episode, in this very high-stakes situation. That's part of why we kept wanting to watch another episode, to see what would happen next. But, surprisingly, this show is also hilariously funny and often had us laughing so hard we had to rewind a bit to see what we missed. Keri Russell, who was so good in her role on The Americans, is absolutely fabulous here: intense and focused, with a sharp wit and perfect delivery of her character's dry sense of humor. The rest of the cast is excellent, too, and the writing is just outstanding. This show kept us glued to the screen, laughing out loud, and wanting more.

The Diplomat is a Netflix original, so it is only available on Netflix.

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