Keri Russell as Kate Wyler in “The Diplomat.” ALEX BAILEY/NETFLIX

Creator Debora Cahn’s (“The West Wing” writer) “The Diplomat” started streaming in late April, and has quickly moved to “Show of the Year” status, which is due primarily to Keri Russell, many if not most of you who are already fans.

Let’s talk.

Here in Cahn’s super-splendid political thriller, “The Diplomat,” Kate Wyler (Russell) is a walking hot wire and super energetic State Department agent, a tough rock in the shoes of international fools, who has been summoned to the U.K., along with her husband Hal Wyler (Rufus Sewell, and start thinking Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy in anything) who was a big time wheeler dealer in the White House, but got bounced because he insulted somebody bigger.

Get used to seeing Hal at Kate’s side; like Pinocchio’s Cricket, Hal will remain as a pebble in Kate’s black flats.

At the opening, Kate and husband Hal arrive in the U.K. to deal with the mysterious sinking of a British ship, that killed a score of British sailors and is rattling the cages of the world. The official consensus is that Russia “did it.”

Kate insists they’re wrong, and when Kate insists, wheels stop spinning.


I won’t go into the details of that headline grabbing disaster, and the Brits who float around Kate because most of you have been sucked into the series, and unable to let go of it, watched it all in one big throat-grabbing gulp. And I’m right there with you.

But for those of you who have been giving your precious viewing time to Hulu or Prime, and skating around tics and politics, this superior drama will be what people will be talking about all summer.

Keri’s Kate Wyler is a fast-moving combination of Katherine Hepburn, Cate Blanchett and Liam Neeson.

Kate, we deduce, was clearly the “Tom Boy” who beat all the sports guys in high school, and still left the prom early with the winning quarterback.

Kate has two black Donna Karan pantsuits, one on and the other in the cleaners. When an aide sends her back to the White House in a gray number at the last minute, we can smell her fury.

Kate is befriended in London by the house CIA insider Eidra Park (Ali Ahn) and her secret lover attache Stuart Heyford (Ato Essandoh) who become Keri’s close friends and true believers.


And, of course there is Austin Dennison, the U.K.’s foreign secretary (David Gyasi, “Cloud Atlas”), a big, sexy presence who is stuck in the corner of Keri’s eye.

And pay particular attention to Ronnie played by young non-binary actor Jess Chanliau, who will surely become more important than a quiet aide next session.

Kate, as you know, was picked for this job (pushed by her husband) by the current aging Biden-like President (Micheal McKean, “Better Call Saul”) who secretly wants her to be his next ice president, a job Kate is incredibly unsuited for and will never be. Imagine Hepburn as VP of anything.

But right now, she’s doing her job in the British high political, dark room intelligence world, pushing lesser powers out of her way, and naturally creating more problems than solutions.

Serious fans of “The West Wing” will immediately sense the writing and camera style of that show, when Debora Chan, Mia Chung and Anna Hagen’s words and plot grace the upcoming stories. Hang on and don’t touch that dial.

“The Diplomat” is wired to soar.


Be comforted by the news that “The Diplomat” has already been lined up for the next season, that is if Kate and her hubby, with targets on their backs, aren’t targeted by mysterious Russians.

Cinematography in this sort of fast-moving political drama can’t succeed without the brilliance of camera magicians like Julian Court. Keep your eyes on every frame, this is the real thing.

“The Diplomat” streams on Netflix.

J.P. Devine of Waterville is a former stage and screen actor.