7 best shows like The Diplomat on Netflix, Hulu and Max

Keri Russell as Kate Wyler in The Diplomat
(Image credit: Netflix)

The latest Netflix series that’s generating buzz is The Diplomat, a political drama starring Keri Russell as the newly-appointed American ambassador to the United Kingdom.

As a career State Department employee, Kate Wyler never expected to be thrust into the limelight that comes with such a plum position. It causes a massive shakeup in her career and her marriage to Hal (Rufus Sewell), a former ambassador himself. As she soon discovers, long-term relationships are tricky, whether they’re between spouses or countries. When an international crisis sets the stage for war, Kate must play a delicate game of diplomacy. 

The Diplomat premiered to instant popularity, placing at or near the top of Netflix’s Top 10 list in both the U.S. and U.K., as well as dozens of other regions. But since it just dropped on April 20, season 2 is a ways away — if Netflix renews it (though that seems highly probable). 

In the meantime, here are seven other shows you can watch that combine politics, intrigue and personal relationships. 

The Americans

Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys in The Americans

(Image credit: FX)

This spy drama not only also stars Russell, it also dwells on the tense rivalry between Americans and Russians and features a complicated marriage. This time, though, Ms. Russell is on the other side. Set during the Cold War era of the 1980s, the show follows two KGB agents posing as a married couple in suburban Washington D.C..

Elizabeth (Russell) and Philip Jennings (Matthew Rhys) have been embedded under deep cover for years. Nobody suspects they are anything but regular suburbanites — which includes their American-born children Paige (Holly Taylor) and Henry (Keidrich Sellati) and their neighbor Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich), an FBI agent working in counterintelligence.

Watch on Hulu

Madam Secretary

Tea Leoni in Madam Secretary

(Image credit: CBS)

Like Kate Wyler, Elizabeth McCord (Téa Leoni) unexpectedly lands an important role in the State Department — the most important role, in fact. A former CIA analyst turned professor, Bess is the president’s surprise pick to replace the late Secretary of State. And she’s thrown into the deep end to navigate the challenges of diplomacy and the intricacies of power in the government.

At her side is husband Henry (Tim Daly), a theology expert and former Marine aviator who moonlights for the NSA. As she deals with international emergencies and domestic disputes, Bess learns that balancing such a demanding job with her family and personal life isn’t easy.

Watch on Netflix or Paramount Plus

The West Wing

The cast of The West Wing

(Image credit: NBC)

The Diplomat can be described as a “walking and talking” show about the highest levels of politics, and nobody did that better than The West Wing. It set the standard when it comes to using sharp dialogue and topical plots to explore the sometimes-combustible mix of power, policy and personal feelings. 

The West Wing follows the lives of the staff of the White House during the fictional presidency of Josiah Bartlet (Martin Sheen). The key players include chief of staff Leo McGarry (John Spencer), his deputy Josh Lyman (Bradley Whitford), communications director Toby Ziegler (Richard Schiff) and press secretary C.J. Cregg (Allison Janney). They may be behind a podium and make globally-consequential decisions, but they are as human as the rest of us.

Watch on Max


Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope in Scandal

(Image credit: ABC)

Kate Wyler and Olivia Pope are both known for being cool-headed operators in a crisis, yet utter messes in their personal lives. Olivia (Kerry Washington) runs a crisis management firm and has developed a reputation as the best fixer in Washington, D.C. When she and her associates aren’t handling something for a politician or another client, Olivia is engaged in an on-and-off, hot-and-heavy affair with President Fitzgerald Grant III (Tony Goldwyn). 

Like The Diplomat, Scandal delves into themes of power, corruption, and morality. Plus, it also features plot twists, secret romances, illicit crushes, vast conspiracies and witty banter. And Washington knows how to rock a tailored suit.

Watch on Hulu


Lars Knutzon, Sidse Babett Knudsen and Pilou Asbæk in Borgen

(Image credit: Netflix)

Think of Borgen as a Danish version of The Diplomat, with a few small differences here and there. Birgitte Nyborg Christensen (Sidse Babett Knudsen) is a minor centrist politician who, against all odds, becomes the first female prime minister of Denmark. Her unexpected ascent puts Birgitte in the thick of managing the conflicting interests of various factions, the pressures of the media and the personal sacrifices required of any high-level leader. 

At first, Birgitte's husband, Phillip (Mikael Birkkjær), puts his own career aside for her sake, but cracks begin to form in their marriage and within their family. As good as she is at her job, Birgitte discovers that maybe a powerful woman truly can’t have it all.

Watch on Netflix

Designated Survivor

Kiefer Sutherland in Designated Survivor

(Image credit: Album / Alamy Stock Photo)

Like several other protagonists on this list, Kiefer Sutherland’s Thomas Kirkman never expected to end up in a position of such power — in his case, president of the United States. As the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, he is far down the line of presidential succession. But when an explosion kills everybody at the Capitol, he’s unexpectedly sworn in. 

Finding whoever was responsible for the attack is just the first of many challenges that lay ahead. Kirkman is soon immersed in elections, international aggressions and troubling allegations of a widespread conspiracy. Like Kate Wyler, he has to be careful about who to trust.

Watch on Netflix

The Night Agent

(L to R) Luciane Buchanan as Rose Larkin, Gabriel Basso as Peter Sutherland in The Night Agent

(Image credit: Netflix)

The Diplomat’s Netflix sibling also involves an unanticipated job reassignment, conspiracies and the White House. But The Night Agent is much more action-forward, less walky-talky. FBI Agent Peter Sutherland (Gabriel Basso) stops a bombing in the DC Metro, but lingering questions damage his reputation and he’s assigned to desk duty. That desk is in the basement of the White House, in front of a phone that never rings. 

Until it does. The caller is Rose Larkin, (Luciane Buchanan), a disgraced tech CEO who is shocked after a violent attack reveals her aunt and uncle were spies. Peter jumps in to help Rose, with the help of the president's chief of staff, Diane Farr (Hong Chau). Soon, they discover more perilous machinations are afoot.

Watch on Netflix

More from Tom's Guide

Kelly Woo
Streaming Editor

Kelly is the streaming channel editor for Tom’s Guide, so basically, she watches TV for a living. Previously, she was a freelance entertainment writer for Yahoo, Vulture, TV Guide and other outlets. When she’s not watching TV and movies for work, she’s watching them for fun, seeing live music, writing songs, knitting and gardening.