Emmys 2012: The Drama Actress Race in Review, Including Our Dream Nominees

One of the big questions surrounding this year’s Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama race: Can anyone beat Claire Danes? She hasn’t even scored a nomination yet, but Homeland‘s leading lady is already considered the frontrunner to grab gold in September. But Danes’ road to Emmy glory is paved with two big obstacles, one of ’em named Julianna Margulies (last year’s winner for The Good Wife). The other: Elisabeth Moss (the Mad Men actress is long overdue).

And speaking of long overdue, Sons of Anarchy anti-heroine Katey Sagal is once again gunning for her first-ever nod. If she manages to make the cut, all bets are off.

EMMYS | American Horror Story Enters Miniseries Races, Downton Abbey Moves to Drama Category

More Emmy Races In Review | Outstanding Drama Series | Lead Drama Actor | Supporting Drama Actor | Supporting Drama Actress | Outstanding Comedy Series | Lead Comedy Actor | Lead Comedy Actress | Supporting Comedy Actor | Supporting Comedy Actress | Outstanding Reality-Competition Series | Outstanding Movie/Miniseries

Review this slideshow of the major contenders — including TVLine’s Dream Nominees — then vote below for who you think are the six best. And check back next week as we tackle the supporting races!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. xxxxx says:

    WHERE IS STANA KATIC ??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

  2. Chelsea says:

    Emily Deschanel! She is SO talented and always gets screwed over.

  3. Stana Katic of Castle. Sadly she wont even be an option, unless the Emmy’s people branches out a little and includes a “Dramady” category, cause that’s what Castle is. It is not TVLine’s fault people, that Stana’s not there, it’s the Emmy’s people for not having the presence of mind to add another category to the pool – and they should, because so many great actresses misses out, because they’re in a “Dramady” series. Many of those “dramady” actresses are sometime better at the “drama’, than any actresses in a “drama” series. But that’s just my opinion. So, please calm down.

    • KenyAlways says:

      I think that is ridiculous ALL comedies have under tones of drama and ALL dramas have under tones of comedy so calling ONE of the best dramas a dramadey is a disgrace.

  4. Kad_Imi says:

    STANA KATIC DESERVES AN EMMY AWARD AT LEAST THIS TIME!!!but she’s not even on the list??!! Gosh!!what the hell is WRONG with you??!! She should WIN! THAT’S WHAT WE ASIANS SAY

  5. Damhill says:

    Claire Danes more than deserves it!

  6. Mal says:

    Jennifer Morrison and Julianna Margulies

  7. americanme says:

    Maggie Q deserves this more than anyone.

  8. Shannon says:

    Miss Stana Katic for “Castle”. Watch “Kill Shot” (Season 4; episode 9) and I dare you to tell me that was not what Emmy nomnations and Emmys were created for.

  9. Christine_Lee says:

    Queen of all roles must be Anna Torv Fringe

  10. KalliopePL says:

    The one and only STANA KATIC should be nominated and get EMMY this year. Period.

  11. Lee Albrecht says:

    Maggie Q

  12. Kanchan says:

    just voted for Stana Katic

  13. Hybrid87 says:

    Lauren Graham!!!!!

  14. SCLady says:

    Stana Katic ended last year with a fabulous episode and continued her talented portrayal of Kate Beckett this year. She definitely deserves a nomination.

    • greysfan says:

      I totally agree but until they split up the awards for both cable and broadcast it will never happen. So many great actresses get snubbed in awards shows, Ellen Pompeo included. She has done some amazing work over the years and still snubbed after 8 seasons. Stana was awesome this season and it wasn’t just a couple of episodes either. It was the journey of the season. Cable shows are short and sweet which is why they are considered “better quality” but making broadcast tv is hard. I would like to see cable shoot out 22 episode seasons and keep that quality. It just doesn’t happen. This is why i believe Cable and Broadcast need to be split into categories and then have 3 overall awards for best show, actress and actor regardless of genre.

  15. Melissa says:

    Emmy Rossum, Claire Danes, Katey Sagal, Elizabeth Moss, Lauren Graham, and Monica Potter would be my dream nominees. I’d love for Emmy to win an Emmy! But I’m positive Claire will, which is totally fine with me, she did amazing work!

  16. KC says:

    Anna Torv. That’s all.

  17. caskett says:

    where the hell is Stana katic from Castle????? she deserves one!!!

  18. KenyAlways says:


  19. Stana Katic deserves to win this Emmy! Not only is she an extraordinary actress, she is extremely versatile and very intelligent! She has not been spoiled by all the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, and perhaps that is why she is too often overlooked! In Castle..she is the lead woman character and her dipiction of a cop suffering from PTSD was right on! I know! I have it and have known others with it! She was right on! Even when she ducked to the street! I had a college professor who did that if you dropped a book accidently in his class. He was a WWII vet! Get real, like Stana, and give her what she truly deserves!

  20. SVUISFOREVER says:


  21. Caskett Forever says:

    STANA KATIC PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  22. Caskett Forever says:




  25. Anita says:

    There is no doubt in my mind that Maggie Q deserves this. Her performance in Nikita’s “Wrath” couldn’t have been done better by anyone else!

  26. One word, one name. “Wrath”, Maggie Q.

  27. saragina85 says:

    Where is Stana Katic? Where???

  28. Andrés says:

    Anna Torv !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    She is the best !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  29. Kristen says:

    Jennifer Morrison

  30. Kate says:

    Stana Katic

  31. Paola says:

    where is S.T.A.N.A K.A.T.I.C?????? Her job is B.R.I.L.L.I.A.N.T. Maybe she isn´t in the list cos she is I.N.C.O.M.P.A.R.A.B.L.E., I can´t find another reason. ;)

  32. patty says:

    Maggie Q deserves all the awards! For leading actress especially! She’s flawless and perfect! Why isn’t she nominated?

  33. Coco says:

    I had never really thought about this candidate before but after watching her this season where the heck is Stana Katic?

  34. Coco says:

    I watch several prime time dramas for my job and what I will say is that Stana earned her Emmy in season 3 but season four it would be a crime for her to not make that ballot. Kill Shot was just one of the many episodes that she owned the show and showed just how much of a talent she is. Wake up Emmy voters! You have your lead actress right here!

  35. KenyAlways says:

    Castle is an amazing show with extradinary actors and actresses that deserve to atleast be nominated I am very annoyed that the consider it a dramadey its not yes there is some comedy aspects but even comedies have some drama aspects and there not considered comedas or something Castle and Castle’s actress and actors should be included in any drama related nominations.

  36. Mairn says:

    Why is Jennifer Morrison even considered? Is this a serious poll?

    • Gobby says:

      Jen got from several professional critics good performance reviews.She is beloved by the fans as you can see here and on other polls so it may be true that the poll is serious. Let it go, TVline commentators. The JMo b*tch fest was allways annoying at this place and is still annoying. Stop it,please!

      • Mairn says:

        It´s my opinion so get over it. She is good in one scene and bad in ten. That % doesn´t make her a good actress. I´m a fan of OUAT and most the time i find her performance embarrasing and over the top. Other times i think she nails her scenes but i can count those times with the fingers of my two hands.

        • sara says:

          Uhmmmm Lisa Edelstein-troll-fans stop it; no one cares about your delusional hatred

          • Mairn says:

            No, this is actually a person with a different opinion. Don´t try to justify it making me fan of other people. And reading reactions from other people and critics i know i´m not alone here. If you think she is amazing and Emmy worthy good for you. I think she is untalented and that her presence brings down the quality of the show.

          • @Mairn says:

            I feel the need to defend the poster above. As far i´ve seen on Twitter, the few people who actively hate on Jen are indeed LE fans. They are an awful, trollish bunch and are pretty obsessed with Jen. Something i can`t understand, if i don`t like someone, i don`t care about their career anymore and i wouldn`t comment here or somewhere else.
            I`ve read several good reviews of Jen too, so don`t generalize your opinion that everyone thinks she is untalented. She is performing a very difficult, flawed character and she is doing a good job with the material she gets and the writers didn`t mean it allways good with her, IMO, Who wants to be dumber than a potato-sac?
            Additionally, of course she is noticeable, Emma is no whimsical, theatrical fairytale character, she is rather realistically dark, informed by her real life environment.

  37. Adra says:


  38. where the hell is Maggie Q on that list she should be on the top of the list she really desrve it she really incredible

  39. Sam says:

    WTF!!!! Where is Stana Katic…. I’m sorry but I think this women is brilliant, she conveys so much without even having to speak. Amazing performances this season, sad to think she will be over looked :(

  40. Abigael says:

    I think Maggie Q has been Outstandingly great all throught the two seasons of Nikita and its time for her get some recognition.How can Shane and Lyndsy get nominated for the Supporting roles without their Lead? Maggie Q is amazing and people should know that already.

  41. navistart says:

    Jennifer Morrison

  42. Meghan says:

    this def needs to go to Maggie Q. She is so amazingly perfect. you people obviously cant see that. i mean look at all the comments. most of them are wanting Maggie Q to be the one to get the emmy.

  43. M.G. says:

    Julianna Margulies, ‘The Good Wife’
    Jennifer Morrison, ‘Once Upon a Time’
    Elisabeth Moss, ‘Mad Men’
    Glenn Close, ‘Damages’

  44. Sophie says:

    Maggie Q should be on that list

  45. Lynsey says:

    Someone needs to send the nominators a friggin link to “Kill Shot”. If that’s not Emmy material then i seriously don’t know WTF Emmy material is. Stana Katic is so underrated, :'(

    • Wilks says:

      “Underated?” seriously??! About a decade ago- even longer- actresses considered ‘Emmy worthy’ actually were worth the title: Kelli Williams, Laura Innes, Camryn Manhein, Kim Delaney, Christine Lahti, Allison Janney, Stockard Channing, Calista Flockhart,Gillian Anderson, Sela Ward, to name a few.

      Stana Katic is by no means as strong an actress as any of the above. Her whole look is manufactured to manipulate the audience; she’s so unattainably attractive and styled. Take that away and she’s just another B-actress who could never hold her own on the big screen. I understand the appeal, and the two leads’ chemistry on Castle no doubt has a significant fandom like that of the X-Files. But you can’t even compare the level of talent from Katic to Gillian Anderson.

      This is what I mean by manipulation: since her role on The Walking Dead Sarah Wayne Callies has been harshly labelled as “ugly”, “whore”, etc by viewers and fans. Purely because her character (surviving a zombie apocalypse) is usually caked in dirt and sweat, and because Lori Grimes is often written with villainous qualities. Doesn’t matter that Callies delivers some of the best emotionally charged and stirring performances I’ve ever seen on the small screen- no less on a show that isn’t exactly based on reality. When Callies played Doctor Sara Tancredi on Prison Break she received a warmer reception by viewers and had a larger fanbase.Why? Nice hair, make up, girl next door appeal. It’s a trick networks have used for years, but for me a good actress doesn’t need to rely on wardrobe or sex appeal.
      Stana Katic is one of those actresses who- strip away her obvious physical attributes- is about as ‘Emmy worthy’ as Amanda Peet is ‘Oscar worthy’.

  46. Wilks says:

    Sarah Wayne Callies is phenomenal. I’m constantly amazed by her dramatic abilities but also disappointed that just because TWD is a genre show Callies is always overlooked. It’s not her fault the show paints her in such an ugly light (her character borders on bipolar, thanks to inconsistent writing). People love to hate Lori Grimes, but I mostly put that down to viral venting of message board and tumblr trolls.
    Callies not only delivers powerful and brave performances but her character looks and acts like a real woman- not some formulated, cookie-cutter phony. I don’t know how people can get so into American TV shows sometimes- doesn’t the fact that most actresses don’t look like normal women look break the illusion of the character?

  47. Connor says:

    I think it is pretty much a given that Claire Danes is going to win, and she deserves it too.

    • tim says:

      Nothing is a given, the emmys are a bit more serious, they have to submit one episode and it’s all based on that. Personally, I think Claire danes should NOT win.

  48. sam says:

    ok, just finished watching Homeland — it is nowhere near best of anything — and Claire danes has got to be playing one of the most annoying characters on television.

  49. Katy says:

    Ellen Pompeo
    Ginnifer Goodwin
    Jennifer Morrison

  50. Miranda says:

    ELLEN POMPEO!!!!! alll the way. she is one of my favorites on the best show on tv. <3 (grey's anatomy)