The 2015 Emmy Nominations Had Better Include These 21 Actresses — You Hear Me, Academy?

Emmy season is here, and TV fans everywhere know this is the best/most brutal time of the year. I think that goes double for the 2015 Emmys because there was just so much good TV this year. Even the TV that wasn't perfect had excellent performances. I do not envy Emmy voters is what I am saying, but I am here to give them some guidance. When I look back on the 2014-2015 TV season it is powerful female performances that immediately come to my mind.

I think of Elisabeth Moss' Peggy strolling down the hall of McCann Erickson like she owned the place and of the steely look on Lena Headey's face before Cersei began her walk of atonement. I think of what a revelation Constance Wu was on Fresh Off the Boat and just how much the Broad City ladies made me laugh. I wish they could all have Emmys, but short of constructing golden statutes out of glitter and paper, all I can do is honor their amazing work with words.

Image: Chuck Hodes/FOX

Elisabeth Moss, 'Mad Men'

The first half of Season 7 is where Moss truly shined, but this is the Academy’s last chance to give Moss an Emmy for her iconic work as Peggy Olson. Even if she didn’t have as many memorable moments in the back half of the season as she did in the first, she had that badass entrance into McCann Erickson and her final phone call with Jon Hamm’s Don, both of which should be more than enough to earn her a nod (and with any luck, a win).

Image: Justina Mintz/AMC

Taraji P. Henson, 'Empire'

Empire took the world by storm this season, but no one stood out more than Henson’s lionness of a woman Cookie. Henson gave the kind of legendary, larger than life performance most performers shy away from these days, and made herself stand out from the pack in the process. No one was more quotable, or more memorable than Cookie and that’s because Henson infused the recently released from prison music mogul with every ounce of passion she had to give.

Image: Chuck Hodes/FOX

Constance Wu, 'Fresh Off the Boat'

Last year, Wu wasn’t even on the radar, this year she’s a comedy revelation. As the mother of three children and the wife of an ambitious, but soft-hearted restaurant owner, Wu was the fiercely funny center that held Fresh Off the Boat together. Whether she was killing it at karaoke, standing up for her kids, or schooling realtors in the fine art of selling houses, Wu completely stole the show.

Image: Eric McCandless/ABC

Eva Green, 'Penny Dreadful'

Penny Dreadful’s first season was a Gothic masterpiece from bottom to top, but the show owes most of its success to the chilling, heartbreaking performance of Green as Vanessa Ives. As Vanessa battled her demons, Green brought her to stunning life with a repressed anger and yearning the likes of which I have never seen before. Never has my heart broke more for a character who also had the capacity to terrify me. I mean, the séance scene alone should earn Green all of the awards.

Image: Pat Redmond/Showtime

Uzo Aduba, 'Orange Is the New Black'

If the devoutness of Suzanne’s yearning for a mother figure in OITNB Season 2 did not speak to you on a deep and meaningful level, I feel sorry for you. Aduba has never been better (and that’s saying something because she is always great) than when she was playing off Lorraine Toussaint’s Vee.

Image: Jessica Miglio/Netflix

Lena Headey, 'Game of Thrones'

Cersei was a woman falling in Season 5, but Headey rose to the occassion. Even as Cersei was stripped emotionally and physically bare, Headey found new depths of strength to draw on. Love Cersei or hate her, Headey’s performance was legendary.

Image: Helen Sloan/HBO

Ellie Kemper, 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt'

Is there anyone who didn’t fall for the unstoppable optimism of Kimmy? Kemper brought just the right balance of sweetness, innocence, and a refusal to be broken to the role of a kidnapped young woman striking out on her own for the first time. The subject matter shouldn’t have been funny, but the wonderful wackiness of Kemper made it okay to laugh right along with Kimmy.

Image: Eric Liebowitz/Netflix

Gina Rodriguez, 'Jane the Virgin'

Is it too soon to call Rodriguez America’s new sweetheart? I don’t think it is. As Jane, Rodriguez was hilarious one minute and making me sob my eyes out the next, but the transition never felt jarring. She kept the crazy concept grounded with her oh-so real it hurt performance.

Image: Greg Gayne/The CW

Viola Davis, 'How to Get Away With Murder'

Davis was absolutely searing as Annalise Keating. I simultaneously wanted her to be my professor and wanted to stay as far away from her class as possible. It made for a confusing, but rewarding viewing experience. Davis knows how to strike fear in your heart while still displaying a stunning amount of humanity.

Image: Mitchell Haaseth/ABC

Ilana Glazer & Abbi Jacobson, 'Broad City'

I cannot separate Glazer and Jacobson, and you can’t make me. These ladies are a team. The kind of team that finds humor in frequent trips to Ikea, strap-ons, and refusing to grow up. They only grew in their comedic talents in Broad City Season 2 and they both deserve nominations and wins. I have my heart set on a tie.

Image: Comedy Central

Mindy Kaling, 'The Mindy Project'

Kaling makes me laugh harder than anyone else on television. In Season 3, she took Mindy to great heights. From showing there is humor to be found in stable relationships, pregnancy, and anal sex, to simply being her wonderful, funny self, Kaling blew me away this year.

Image: Patrick McElhenney/FOX

Samira Wiley, 'Orange Is the New Black'

Poussey was the MVP of OITNB Season 2. As the only inmate who didn’t fall in with Vee, Poussey became an outsider, and Wiley slayed every minute of her exile. Wiley was the clear breakout star of Season 2 and I honestly can’t remember what the show was like before she was front and center.

Image: Jessica Miglio/Netflix

Kristin Schaal, 'The Last Man on Earth'

Schaal was the best reason to watch the cringe-inducing Last Man on Earth. As Carol, she brough a genuine kindness to the apocalyptic satire that was desperately needed. Honestly though, I don’t care if Schaal earns a nod for The Last Man on Earth or for her exquisite voice work on Bob’s Burgers and Gravity Falls, she’s one of TV’s true MVPs and one hell of a multi-tasker.

Image: Jordin Althaus/FOX

Ruth Wilson, 'The Affair'

Wilson’s Alison was a study in duality. Wilson played Alison both as the character saw herself and as she was seen by others. The results were a subtle meditation on perception, and a fractured picture of one of my favorite new TV characters of the year.

Image: Craig Blankenhorn/Showtime

Mae Whitman, 'Parenthood'

This the Emmys’ last chance to acknowledge just how amazing Whitman has been as Amber. Her character grew from an angry teen into a young mother over six seasons, and Whitman’s honest work never wavered.

Image: Paul Drinkwater/NBC

Laura Carmichael, 'Downton Abbey'

Edith is always overlooked within her own family, and Carmichael is always overlooked during awards season. This year Edith had more “hell, yeah!” moments than anyone else in the cast (and on television). She came into her own in a big way, and Carmichael was absolutely breathtaking.

Image: Nick Briggs/Carnival Film & Television Limited 2014 for Masterpiece

Aya Cash, 'You're the Worst'

Cash’s Gretchen was unapologetically messy, rude, sexy, and profane, and I adored every minute of it. She was an unconventional romantic heroine, the kind who was terrified of love and relationships, but oh, watching her fall in love was such a funny, sharply poignant treat.

Image: Byron Cohen/FX

Lorraine Toussaint, 'Orange Is the New Black'

Toussiant walked into Litchfield and immediately owned the place. Vee was a scary, vicious woman with a stone heart, and Toussaint brought her to life in an electrifying performance. Over a year later and the memory of Vee is still haunting me.

Image: David Giesbrecht/Netflix

Jane Fonda, 'Grace and Frankie'

Fonda is one of the greatest actresses of all time, and she brought the same fearless spirit to the small screen that she always brought to her film roles. Grace is a strong, fierce woman whose entire world is shaken when her husband leaves her for a man. Fonda infused Grace with a sardonic wit, unexpected vulnerability, and resiliency that made the character sing.

Image: Melissa Moseley/Netflix

Amy Poehler, 'Parks and Recreation'

A performance as iconic as Poehler’s deserves an Emmy. Leslie Knope sailed off into a brave, beautiful future, and Poehler was just as winning as ever in the series’ final run. Leslie is already going down in history as one of the greats, but that doesn’t mean a little recognition for Poehler wouldn’t be nice.

Image: Colleen Hayes/NBC

Kiernan Shipka, 'Mad Men'

At long last, Sally made peace with her mother in Season 7. She also became an adult long before her time. Shipka’s wise beyond her years performance in a role precious few young women her age could pull off deserves some recognition. Sally was one of the best things about Mad Men, and that goes double for Shipka.

Image: AMC