WHY SHE DESERVES A NOD: Given the wealth of material explored by Paula Proctor in Crazy Ex‘s superb second season, it seems strange to think of the phenomenally versatile Champlin as a supporting actress. Sure, Paula literally supports Rebecca in her quest to woo-then-destroy Josh Chan, but she’s also a fully realized character on her own. Champlin’s inspiring portrayal of a real woman juggling real problems — ranging from infidelity and abortion to singing about soiled undies like a Disney princess — is a bittersweet delight. Simply put, if television had more characters like Paula and more actresses like Champlin, the world would be a much better place.
KIMBERLY HEBERT GREGORY, VICE PRINCIPALS
WHY SHE DESERVES A NOD: It’s not easy to pull the focus away from the likes of Danny McBride and Walton Goggins, but in the HBO comedy’s rookie season, Gregory stole pretty much every scene she was in as the fierce, formidable principal Dr. Brown. That was certainly the case in Episode 4, which began with her single-mother character reeling in the wake of her home being torched and ended with her hijacking the high school’s pep rally and delivering a hilarious, mic-dropping sermon for the ages. It was, simply put, a religious experience.
KATE MCKINNON, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE
WHY SHE DESERVES A NOD: Here’s one thing Republicans and Democrats can agree on: McKinnon just closed out her strongest season of Saturday Night Live yet. In the debate-fueled weeks leading up to the presidential election, the comedy dynamo managed to find hilarious and surprising new layers in her Hillary Clinton persona. And in the afternath of Clinton’s stunning defeat, McKinnon — whether performing the late Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” cryptically lampooning Love Actually classic cue card sceneorneedling the Trump administration with her stinging sendups of Jeff Sessions and Kellyanne Conway— helped a nation (or at least 48 percent of it) grieve.
D’ARCY CARDEN, THE GOOD PLACE
WHY SHE DESERVES A NOD: As relentlessly chipper Siri-like digital assistant Janet, Carden breathed impressive life into a synthetic role, crafting one of the year’s most memorable new characters in the process. Carden was hysterically deadpan as Janet rattled off her encyclopedic knowledge of everything ever — and she even got a romantic subplot, falling in love with dude-bro DJ Jason/Jianyu. We didn’t expect to fall in love with a computer hologram, either… but dammit, Janet charmed the hell (or is it the heaven?) out of us.
JUDITH LIGHT, TRANSPARENT
WHY SHE DESERVES A NOD: Light’s character, eternally nagging Jewish mom Shelly, kept the laughs coming in Season 3, dipping her toe into social media (“I’m a brand!”) and unveiling her one-woman show, “To Shell and Back.” But Light also got to dig deeper, as a lonely Shelly begged her self-involved children for a little attention. Her cruise-ship performance of Alanis Morissette’s “Hand in My Pocket” was one of 2016’s best TV scenes: oddly hilarious, authentically moving, ultimately triumphant.
ANDREA MARTIN, GREAT NEWS
WHY SHE DESERVES A NOD: On paper, Carol Wendelson — a helicopter mom who schemes her way into an internship at her daughter’s TV news station — is a recipe for disaster. But when you put that recipe into the hands of a comedic genius like Martin, the result is a truly satisfying performance that somehow still leaves you wanting more. Not only does Martin display a Lucille Ball-esque mastery of physical comedy, but frankly, it’s also refreshing to see a woman of a certain age thriving as the heart of a network series (cc: all of Hollywood).