WHY SHE DESERVES A NOD: Selina Meyer may be president, but Chlumsky is Commander-in-Chief of our adoration. In the HBO comedy’s fourth season, pushed-past-the-brink Amy Brookheimer had one of her lowest moments — a gorgeously delivered, barely-holding-it-together tirade against the always oblivious prez, ending in Amy’s resignation — that allowed Chlumsky to move her character into a euphoric, no-effs-given phase. Now, as lobbyist Amy revels in the ability to say whatever she’s thinking, Chlumsky plays the character with an infectious glee. She’s been nominated twice before (in 2013 and 2014); here’s hoping that a landslide of common sense places her back in the Emmy race again this year.
YAEL GROBGLAS, JANE THE VIRGIN
WHY SHE DESERVES A NOD: As the villainness of the CW series, it would be easy to mistake Petra as just a manipulative man-eater. But that would be a foolish mistake. (Just ask the guy she took hostage.) Thanks to Grobglas’ surprisingly agile comedic skills and the emotional depth she’s brought to her character, we’ve found ourselves not only laughing at Petra’s plight, but also rooting for her.
NIECY NASH, GETTING ON
WHY SHE DESERVES A NOD: Nurse Didi Ortley is as no-nonsense as she is compassionate with the patients of the extended care unit of Mount Palms Memorial Hospital — wrestling a glass of vodka from an alcoholic patient’s hand one minute, pulling up a chair at the woman’s bedside to quietly hold her hand the next. Nash’s brilliance, though, is also letting us see the humor, the hardship and the occasional pettiness of a woman who excels in patient care — despite being deeply concerned with boosting her weekly paycheck. And as for the exasperated side-eye Didi throws at her crazy colleagues and their disastrous decision-making, well, no one does it better (or funnier) than Nash.
KATHLEEN ROSE PERKINS, EPISODES
WHY SHE DESERVES A NOD: Though it’s Matt LeBlanc’s portrayal of “Matt LeBlanc” that has gotten Showtime’s inside-Hollywood comedy the most attention — and, to date, its only acting Emmy nods — it’s Perkins’ sublimely uncomfortable work as high-strung network exec Carol Rance that’s been the real revelation. Even when Season 4 found her pot-puffing character falling back on her stock-in-trade — embarking on an affair with yet another (!) boss — the actress managed to plumb new depths of hilarious awkwardness. (The way she spun the lines surrounding her alter ego’s initial reaction to lesbian sex — “I mean, there’s nothing to hold onto” — deserves a category of its own!) So, while Carol might have had trouble coming up with a pet name for her girlfriend, we’ve long known the term that should be affixed to her portrayer: Emmy nominee.
MELISSA RAUCH, THE BIG BANG THEORY
WHY SHE DESERVES A NOD: Mayim Bialik has earned three Emmy nods for her work as Amy Farrah-Fowler, but we would argue that Rauch’s performance has made Bernadette Big Bang‘s most complex supporting female character. Throughout the CBS comedy’s eighth season, Rauch was more entertaining than ever as she masterfully balanced Bernadette’s sassy attitude with her (somewhat begrudging) love for husband Howard and their hapless friends. Whether Bernadette was feeling cynical, compassionate, brutally honest or all of the above, Rauch never missed a beat as she brought the many facets of her character to life.
EDEN SHER, THE MIDDLE
WHY SHE DESERVES A NOD: Just because eternal optimist Sue is the Rodney Dangerfield of The Middle doesn’t mean that the Emmys shouldn’t show her portrayer some respect. In fact, she may deserve a nomination now more than ever. As the character grew in Season 6 — the college-bound teen displayed remarkable maturity when she turned down her adorable beau’s proposal of marriage — so did Sher. But, rather than completely make over the hyper-enthusiastic kid that we’ve always known and loved, the actress hinted at the sunny young woman that she was becoming.