WHY SHE DESERVES A NOD: Carden continued to steal scenes with robotic precision — we know, she’s “not a robot” — in Season 2 as relentlessly chipper digital assistant Janet. Plus, she deftly added a dash of emotional nuance to the walking encyclopedia, as Janet confronted the unresolved feelings she had for Jason that were making her short-circuit. (Also, two words: Bad Janet.) Any list of the year’s best TV performances that doesn’t include Carden simply does not compute.
BETTY GILPIN, GLOW
WHY SHE DESERVES A NOD: No matter how big a hairdo the Netflix dramedy gave her, no matter how sparkly her outfit or eyeshadow, Gilpin never failed to make us see beneath the excesses of ’80s style the real — and really complicated — woman in soap star-turned-Gorgeous Lady of Wrestling Debbie Eagan. Were Season 1 a match, her work would’ve earned her a crown; since it wasn’t, we suggest instead giving her an Emmy nomination.
RITA MORENO, ONE DAY AT A TIME
WHY SHE DESERVES A NOD: Lydia is frequently theatrical, a characteristic tailor-made for a multi-camera sitcom, where flashy entrances elicit an immediate reaction from the studio audience. And while Moreno is brilliant in those showier moments, it’s her ability to modulate her delivery and take the Alvarez family matriarch down a notch or two — as was the case with Season 2’s heavier storylines involving Lydia’s immigration status and deteriorating health — that make her performance one of TV’s very best.
ANNIE MURPHY, SCHITT’S CREEK
WHY SHE DESERVES A NOD: Long before she was done making an inspiring heroine of amusing bratlet Alexis Rose, Murphy had left us seeing stars. But in Season 4, she shocked us Schitt-less. As Alexis committed both to her Podunk town and to being a better person, her portrayer rendered her so vulnerable that we cried. Repeatedly! So she deserves an Emmy nomination every bit as much as Alexis does a second chance with Ted.
EDI PATTERSON, VICE PRINCIPALS
WHY SHE DESERVES A NOD: Comedic tour-de-forces don’t come more unsettlingly unhinged and side-splittingly uproarious than the one Patterson delivered in the HBO comedy’s second and final season. As her seriously damaged alter ego Jen Abbott slowly morphed into full-on psychopath, the Groundlings vet played every scene with both fearless abandon and a hint of sadness. Yes, Abbott was nuts. But, as Patterson quietly, deftly reminded us time and time again, her madness was fueled by heartbreak.
NATASHA ROTHWELL, INSECURE
WHY SHE DESERVES A NOD: We could just say “diner scene” and drop the mic, the case for Rothwell more than sufficiently made. But the human zinger machine is by no means a one-laugh wonder. In Season 2 of the HBO dramedy, she never stopped reminding us why she’d earned a promotion to series regular and, while she was at it, why it’s her picture in the dictionary next to the word “scene-stealer.”
MIRIAM SHOR, YOUNGER
WHY SHE DESERVES A NOD: Diana Trout may still be in the dark about her assistant’s real age on Younger, but thanks to actress Miriam Shor’s ability to turn even throwaway lines into quotable side splitters, she’s never far from the spotlight. Whether struggling to grasp the concept of memes or misreading every single one of her interactions with the opposite sex, she’s always delivered the show’s biggest laughs, but it was Diana’s painfully relatable tale of heartbreak and self-worth in the TV Land comedy’s fourth season that solidified her as a multidimensional human being — and proved that Shor is capable of handling material as weighty as one of Diana’s statement necklaces.