Emmys
emmys led actress drama

Emmys 2016: Lead Actress in a Drama Series — Our 7 Dream Nominees!

Here at TVLine, we prefer our Emmy nominations the same way we like our mangoes: Fresh and oh-so-juicy.

Which is why six of the seven women on our list of 2016 Dream Emmy Nominees for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series weren’t on the ballot in last year’s actual Emmy race.

Granted, two of our picks are from freshman series — so they wouldn’t have been eligible in the first place — but if at least three or four of our faves don’t make the cut with the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, that’d be the pits. (See how we’re extending that mango simile?)

For the record, 2016 Emmy nominations will be made from June 13-27, and announced July 14. The 68th Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, is slated to air Sunday, Sept. 18 on ABC.

Check out the gallery below — or click here for direct access — to see our fresh-blood ideas, then tell us if our picks warrant a “Woot!,” a “Whaaaat?” or a crisp slap of rebuke!

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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98 Comments
  1. Kailani says:

    If it ain’t got Tatiana on it, it’s an ill-conceived list.

    • King says:

      I agree!

    • Exactly! Once any of them plays 22 characters on their shows, they can have the award!

    • dkwilley says:

      yep, she was ROBBED last year. I only started watching last year and she hooked me in about 3 seconds flat. she’s amazing.

      • Jimmy says:

        I don’t disagree that Tatiana Maslany is a kick-ass actrees, but I don’t agree she was robbed last year. Viola Davis’ win was well-earned.

      • Anna says:

        Tatiana was straight up amazing, but she wasn’t robbed. Viola Davis brought the house down – she completely deserved that Emmy.

    • Kathleen S. says:

      Could not agree more. I often get so lost in her performances that I almost forget it’s the same actress playing ALL those parts. Tat for the win!

    • KCC says:

      I agree that Tatiana does a fantastic job in OB. But all the other actresses get nominated for a single role. To be fair she should only be considered for a single character, not the 5 or 6 she plays every year. Every character is a different performance and she does some better than others. If they want to give an award for the best actress on TV and consider the entire body of work for each actress then Tatiana would win hands down.

    • henrietta sandwich says:

      Yep. She should have won the last three and she has got even better in the fourth series

  2. Bates lover says:

    Vera Farmiga please! Absolute heartbreaking perfection!

  3. Brent says:

    No Keri Russell? Not a legitimate list.

  4. wrstlgirl says:

    I can’t disagree with any of these choices.

  5. SassyAF28 says:

    Krysten ritter should be on this list

  6. Al says:

    All of the above are deserving

    I know it’s a long shot but Ellen Pompeo deserves a nod IMO, her work has been incredible this season

    • Anna says:

      Ellen Pompeo did the best acting she’s ever done this past season, but she’s not even the strongest main actress on her show.

    • lechatnoir says:

      The current crop is strong. Ellen pompew has no chance . the only actress from shondaland factory who win this is viola

  7. Me says:

    Where’s Tatiana Maslany. How could you forget Tatiana Maslany in a dream Emmy list? She by far the most amazing actress(es) out there!

  8. Nick says:

    This is going to be a tough field, I can’t disagree with any of these choices. I think they all deserve a shot, and there are many that aren’t on here that would also deserve a nod…by far the most competitive field this year imo.

  9. Steven says:

    So glad Shiri is getting noticed! I’m been a fan since Roswell. My list would go
    Shiri Appleby (Win)
    Viola Davis
    Vera Farmiga
    Gillian Anderson
    Julianna Marguiles
    Jennifer Lopez
    Krysten Ritter

  10. Lala says:

    Yes to Viola, Shiri and Vera…I’d also add Robin Wright, she’s incredible in HOC

  11. TvLover says:

    Yes to Caitriona Balfe. Viola Davis. And I’m really glad that Gemma Chan from Humans made your list.
    I’d just add Tatiana Maslany because IMO she’s literally a one woman show, and her depiction of characters only continue to improve.

  12. I agree mostly with Gemma Chan, but I’d add Barbara Hershey in Damien.

  13. webly3 says:

    These nominees are essentially perfect. Technically, there are only 6 noms (even though there should be 7). If there were 7, I would definitely take out Gemma Chan and add in Keri Russell (who is shockingly robbed here!). And, I’m saying that having watched Humans as well along with every show on here. The supporting actress noms for a drama series are going to have so much whiplash because there are so many actresses that were phenomenal in that category this year.

    • webly3 says:

      Oh wait, how the hell did I forget Tatiana Maslany? I take that back. Take out Caitrona Balfe and add Tatiana wtf. TVLine got me to watch Orphan Black in the first place.

      • Tatiana Maslany could literally own a category by herself:

        Lead actress:
        Caitriona
        Shiri
        Whoever
        Tatiana Maslany as Sarah
        Viola
        Whoever

        Supporting Actress:
        Tatiana Maslany as Alison
        Tatiana Maslany as Beth
        Tatiana Maslany as Cosima
        Tatiana Maslany as Helena
        Tatiana Maslany as Krystal
        Tatiana Maslany as Rachel

    • webly3 says:

      Or actually take out Shiri Appleby and keep Caitrona

  14. Et al. says:

    Nice call on Gemma Chan. I never would have thought of it but she was amazing.

  15. John036 says:

    I’m sure Julianna Marguiles will get nominated and win. Not because she deserves it (cause I don’t know if she deserves to get nominated, I haven’t seen season seven of The Good Wife yet) but just because the show is ending. Emmys and Golden Globes love giving out awards to the critically acclaimed show that just wrapped.

    • abz says:

      Even though the final season was not as critically acclaimed as previous seasons, if Julianna Margulies gets a nomination, I think it would absolutely be well-deserved. Love her or hate her, but Margulies has been spectacular for the past seven seasons as Alicia Florrick. I personally would love to see her nominated one last time. Alicia has been one of the best characters I have ever had the pleasure of watching.

    • David4 says:

      Martin Sheen never won for The West Wing. A finale season means nothing to these ‘judges’.

  16. Simon Jester says:

    Eva Green is one of the most fearless actors — of either gender — I have ever seen.

  17. peegee says:

    Viola Davis again for that over the top, over dramatic, and unrealistic performances -heavens no

    • There's more deserving actors says:

      Thank you! Her performance and that show is over the top and overrated! The speeches and performance, it’s corny as he k.

  18. JB says:

    WTH with your list? And that’s no disrespect to the actresses you’ve chosen (Davis and Green would definitely be on my list). However, you ignored the 2 BEST lead female performances of last year: Tatiana Maslany (always fantastic) and the woman who really deserves to win, Robin Wright who was simply astounding yet again on “House of Cards”. Get a clue.

    Also, this would be my list:
    Viola Davis, HTGAWM
    Eva Green, Penny Dreadful
    Juliana Marguiles, The Good Wife
    Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black
    Ellen Pompeo, Greys Anatomy (* it’s a travesty she has never been nominated and last year was arguably her best work, especially in the wake of her character’s attack)
    Robin Wright, House of Cards (winner)

  19. Amanda says:

    I totally agree about Caitriona Balfe and Eva Green. Tatiana Maslany needs to be on it too. She’s been amazing this season and has such a range playing all those characters.

  20. drhenning says:

    Switch Tatiana for Viola.. Better show

  21. ToyCannon says:

    My Nominees
    — Sophia Bush (Chicago P.D.)
    — Viola Davis (HTGAWM)
    — Eva Green (Penny Dreadful)
    — Tea Leoni (Madam Secretary)
    — Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black)
    — Emmy Rossum (Shameless) (NOT a comedy)

  22. Karen says:

    Again, I have to say your choices are spot on. If only there was more room for other people’s listed choices of Keri Russell and Tatiano Mislany. There are so many talented actresses in so many quality programs now, but to overlook so many every year is tragic.

  23. Homodrome says:

    No Kristen Rytter for Jessica Jones?!

  24. Paula cuevas says:

    I am sure all the ladies are all fine and outstanding leading ladies, but I in my opinion you left out another brilliant and amazing actress and that is Mary Mcdonnell.

  25. Roswell Fan says:

    Shiri Appleby yes!!!!!

  26. Jax&Juice's Girl says:

    Viola Davis….LOVE
    Tatiana Maslany…..should get nom.
    Vera Farmiga…..I think she needs to win those last couple of episodes of Bates Motel where GOOD!!!

  27. Jerry G says:

    The debate for Outstanding Lead Actress begins and ends with Tatiana Maslany. Any list without her is just plain wrong.

  28. Spence says:

    YES TO GEMMA CHAN!!!! So happy to see her- and the show- getting some love. Her and Vera deserve so much to be on this list and the real nominee list!! Some glaring omissions, though: Tatiana Maslany and Keri Russell on the Americans. Dream nominee list would be Tat, Keri, Gemma, Vera, Viola, Carrie Coon, and whoever else after that.

  29. Matt C. says:

    My dream nominees would be…
    Viola Davis
    Vera Farmiga
    Taraji P. Henson
    Robin Wright
    Krysten Ritter
    Ellen Pompeo
    Kerry Washington (only to complete the TGIT trifecta)

  30. matty says:

    WTF? no Juliana Margulies? Her work this season was fantastic. She gave Alicia Florrick a tremendous amount of depth.

  31. Jovana says:

    Supporting actress list better have Sarah Drew on it!

    • abz says:

      Just my opinion, but Sarah Drew is no where near the level of being Emmy worthy. If we’re talking Grey’s actors, then the only one deserving a nomination would be Ellen Pompeo who has only gotten better on the show with time and has been amazing this past season. However, while a nomination for her would be nice, she would never win against the competition she’d have. There are just too many amazing dramatic actresses for both lead and supporting.

  32. Bryan says:

    For me, this would be perfect:
    Viola Davis
    Shiri Appleby
    Tatiana Maslany
    Ellen Pompeo
    Eva Green
    Keri Russel

    The 1st four ladies, I actually watch their shows and I know they’re really great. The last are from snooping around the web and fan/critic sites.

  33. Dream list:
    Caitriona Balfe
    Keri Russell
    Viola Davis
    Tatiana Maslany
    Robin Wright
    Eva Green
    Carrie Coon or Vera Famiga

    I love Shiri Appleby, but I think Keri, Tatiana, and Robin are stronger performances. I also thought Ellen Pompeo did amazing this season. And Julianna Margulies is always great.

    • Also Michelle Monaghan is FANTASTIC in The Path. I’d also add Krysten Ritter in Jessica Jones. This is a truly strong year for women on TV, that’s why I hope they go for some different ladies than the ones we always see (even though Claire Danes, Julianna Margulies, Michelle Dockery are always great too).

  34. I’m just so happy you mentioned Carrie Coon! I really hope the Leftovers gets some recognition this year. It is such a brilliant show and deserves so much more attention xoxo

  35. DarkDefender says:

    Tatiana Maslany should be nominated in both the lead and supporting actress categories. Her being left off this “dream” list is redonk.

  36. Ronnie says:

    Viola had two amazing episodes this year that would be hard to top, and Tatiana M. is the only reason her show works. Keri Russell has been ignored the way Katy Segal was for Sons of Anarchy, so unless they come up with another way to get people to notice, she won’t get a nod. Kristin Ritter in Jessica Jones was amazing, but the I think Emmy voters will ignore her and stick with their stand bys from Netflix with OITNB and House of Cards. Would be great to see some surprises in all the acting categories this year, though.

  37. Temperance says:

    Eva Green. Eva Green. Eva Green. Nobody can touch her in Penny Dreadful, even as much as Tyson and Davis are about as good as it gets. If she doesn’t get awarded in spades for her work as Miss Ives, the awards are meaningless. I’ll also toss in Patty LuPone (for either of her roles) and Rory Kinnear (one the men’s side).

  38. hank ronson says:

    where is Tatiana maslany? how dare you leave her off the list

  39. Margaret Lewis says:

    yes yes yes at everyone who is up in arms about no Tatiana Marlasny! I have to agree with one comment that TV line got me into orphan black as well… yet y’all leave Tatiana off the list!?!? I get there is a lot of great talent out there… but the fact that 4 seasons in… Orphan Black and Tatiana have not won and are barely recognized is just wrong. A serious shake up with Orphan black and Tatiana better occur in this yrs nominations!

    my list:
    Tatiana Marlasny, Viola Davis, Robin wright, Kerry Washington, Kristen Ritter

  40. Jane says:

    It is really fascinating and wonderful how different people can view different things. Two of the actresses on this list are so bad to me that they are the reason I cannot watch their shows. Actually my list would look much different than this one with only one, possibly two of these actresses being included. That, of course, doesn’t mean that the opinions expressed here are wrong just that they are different than mine.

  41. Margo says:

    Keri Russell crushed it this season on The Americans. Showed great range; from tough guy to broken hearted, sometimes in the same episode.

  42. Spignejr says:

    Shiri! That girl is ON FIRE in UnReal!

  43. The only 6 nominees worth nominating:

    Shiri Appleby, UnREAL
    Melissa Benoist, Supergirl
    Viola Davis, How to Get Away With Murder
    Kirsten Dunst, Fargo
    Rachel Nichols, Continuum
    Krysten Ritter, Marvel’s Jessica Jones

  44. MrScreenAddict says:

    Shiri Appleby, UnREAL
    Carrie Coon, The Leftovers
    Vera Farmiga, Bates Motel
    Eva Green, Penny Dreadful
    Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black
    Ellen Pompeo, Grey’s Anatomy (it’s criminal that she’s the only one of Shonda’s leading ladies that hasn’t been nominated for an Emmy yet, and this was by far her strongest season acting-wise)
    Keri Russell, The Americans

    Alternates I’d be totally okay with:
    Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
    Krysten Ritter, Jessica Jones
    Robin Wright, House Of Cards

  45. marlene says:

    Carrie Coon

  46. kayw4 says:

    Like this list a lot, except I haven’t watched a lot of the shows so it’s hard to judge although I know the actresses’ work from elsewhere. I’d probably, in an ideal world, have the list look something like:

    Tatiana Maslany
    Caitriona Balfe
    Eva Green
    Shiri Appleby
    Krysten Ritter
    Ellen Pompeo
    Keri Russell

    Of course Viola Davis is Emmy-worthy, she’s a spectacular actress, but I just hated Season 2 of HTGAWM so much that it’s hard to consider it included on any list.

  47. Surprised Stana isn’t on here! She’s deserved an Emmy since forever :-)

  48. rcetin says:

    Uhm I demand to know where are Tatiana Maslany and Keri Russell among your nominees?

  49. parstl says:

    No Kerry Washington again? Ridiculous.

  50. MRD says:

    Agree with most of the comments that Mazlany and Russell should be on the list over Gemma Chan but the award should just be given to Vera Farmiga hands down. Carrie Coon should have gotten the award in season 1 of The Leftovers – she was great this year, too, but didn’t have quite the same material.