She’s the female lead on one of the few hits of the new season and holds her own against James Spader — no easy task.
Britton is consistently terrific in all her TV roles and long overdue for a win. Bonus points for doing her own singing.
“Masters of Sex”
Known primarily for her comedy work, Caplan proved there’s no limit to her talent, playing a working mother ahead of her time who assists Dr. William Masters.
CIA Agent Carrie Mathison might be the most complex woman on TV; even when we don’t understand her choices (like falling for a terrorist) we care about the outcome. Credit Danes, who has already won two Emmys for the role.
Season 4 was truly Mary’s year, as she attempted to move on from the loss of her beloved Matthew. And Dockery was simply superb.
As the smart, quiet Detective Sarah Linden, who finds herself drawn back to a case after turning in her badge, Enos proves that still waters run deep.
Farmiga shows no fear in tacking the iconic role of one bad mother, whose instinct to murder comes as naturally as her ferocious need to protect her son.
Her Detective Sonya Cross is brittle but brilliant, a cop aided and abetted by her Asperger syndrome.
“The Good Wife”
Her steely grace as wronged wife Alicia Florrick has already won Margulies an Emmy. This season gave her perhaps her most heartbreaking scene yet, as we saw Alicia’s agony over learning of the death of Will Gardner (Josh Charles).
Of all the overlooked nominees last year, no one caused more of an uproar than Maslany, who plays eight (and counting) clones — and makes every one distinct.
In seven seasons, Peggy Olsen has grown before our eyes from naive secretary to powerful boss and Moss has made the journey believable and compelling.
As a KGB sleeper agent posing as a happily married woman, Russell is both tough and vulnerable, sometimes in the same moment.
“Sons of Anarchy”
One of the toughest women on television, Sagal has been unjustly overlooked for her portrait of Gemma, the matriarch out an outlaw motorcycle club.
The show may be soapy fun, but there is nothing silly about Washington’s wonderful work as DC fixer Olivia Pope.
“House of Cards”
While we knew from the start that her husband was a master manipulator, Claire Underwood proved to be much sneakier — ultimately proving to be as power-hungry and determined.