The Diplomat just knocked off Love is Blind as No. 1 Netflix show — skip or stream?

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

Netflix may have its issues, but its trio of warring top shows highlights that times are relatively good at the big red streaming machine. While Beef and Love is Blind fought for the No. 1 spot previously, today (April 21) sees a brand-new show in the top slot. 

That series is The Diplomat, which debuted yesterday (April 20), and seems like it has a solid chance of being one of the best shows on Netflix. According to FlixPatrol, this ends a five-day reign for Love is Blind, Netflix's reality dating series that suffered a snafu on Sunday when its live reunion failed to air. Love Is Blind season 4 had been swapping spots with the rage-filled dark comedy Beef, which held the top spot for six out of seven days. 

And while The Diplomat has the top spot now, the even better news is that it holds a 91 percent Rotten Tomatoes score at the time of publishing. Though that score comes with an asterisk, which we'll get to below.

But none of this informs you if you should or shouldn't watch The Diplomat, does it? So, I'll break everything about The Diplomat down.

What is The Diplomat about?

Another day, another global crisis. That's the situation the new U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Katherine "Kate" Wyler (Keri Russell) finds herself in. She lives for this stuff, though, as her husband, Hal (Rufus Sewell), is also a diplomat and former ambassador. 

When a new chaotic moment in global politics hits, Kate is offered the ambassadorship to the United Kingdom — a position she doesn't actually want. She takes it, though. And adjusting to her new position during this time of uncertainty gives Russell a lot to work with, especially since she's not as eager to smile and charm. That's her husband's skillset. 

Keri Russell as Kate Wyler in The Diplomat

(Image credit: Alex Bailey / Netflix)

Kate now has to figure out who's responsible for a bombing and ease tensions between the U.K. and Iran. Meanwhile, there's talk of Kate climbing the political ranks to the vice president's seat, and she has to cool down trigger-happy minds at 10 Downing Street.

All the while hubby Hal's trying to make sure people see Kate as the real ambassador, as they tend to give him the title since he has that experience.

The Diplomat reviews: What critics and audiences say

As noted above, The Diplomat carries a solid 91 percent Rotten Tomatoes score at the moment. The only asterisk, though, is that this score is from only 23 reviews — not enough for the Certified Fresh sticker. So, let's dive into the critics' (and audiences') thoughts.

Richard Lawson of Vanity Fair compliments The Diplomat by arguing it appeals to a wide audience, stating that: "At its best, The Diplomat seems to proudly hold no allegiances to either cable prestige or network melodrama." Joel Keller at Decider recommends you stream The Diplomat and writes, "The Diplomat is a sturdy, solid show with a fine lead performance from Russell."

Keri Russell as Kate Wyler in The Diplomat

(Image credit: Netflix)

He also notes, though, that he "can’t shake the nagging feeling that the show would have worked better on NBC in 2003 than on Netflix in 2023." Mike Hale at the New York Times wants more from Russell, saying she's "not as funny as the show needs her to be. Relaxing into the role and giving the emotional connections the casual, spontaneous feel that the rom-com structure calls for are not her strengths."

Looking at the audience scores, we see many a five-star user review including Joshua F's praise that he "just can't stop watching it. Russell is my favorite actress. And you can see how she loves her part. The cast is just brilliant." Matija T, though, gave it one-star and said that it "Started promising, eloquent, complex, only to quickly turn into a third-grade soap opera. Predictable cliches with usual good country, bad country stereotypes."

The Diplomat — stream or skip?

Right now, it feels like starting The Diplomat is a very safe bet. Russell's experienced with the genre with The Americans, and creator Debora Cahn is also a proven talent, having executive produced and written for Homeland. 

That said, if you want something truly original that reinvents the genre, it sounds like you'd be better off trying out Beef. Or, for something else, try out our list of the 7 best shows you're not watching on Netflix, Prime Video and HBO Max.

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Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.