WHY SHE DESERVES A NOD:GLOW wouldn’t glimmer anywhere near as brightly without the neurotic energy that Brie has brought to Ruth since the Netflix series’ premiere. But Season 2 gave the actress even more of a chance to confront her character’s deeper feelings, and we were pinned by the tenderness she brought to her scenes. Whether Ruth was voicing years of painful emotions in that hospital-room fight with Debbie or slowly realizing (and then speedily backing away from) a slow-burn attraction to Sam, Brie won the match every time.
RACHEL BROSNAHAN, THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL
WHY SHE DESERVES A NOD: The 2018 Emmy winner had dozens of standout Season 2 moments. But we’re going to zero in on that insanely elaborate telephone switchboard sequence in the Season 2 premiere and marvel anew at Brosnahan’s ability to spit out reams of multisyllabic dialogue while executing complicated rolling chair choreography at lightning fast speed and making it look frighteningly easy. She is the ultimate comedy multi-tasker, and we remain unworthy.
REGINA HALL, BLACK MONDAY
WHY SHE DESERVES A NOD: Showtime’s Wall Street satire quickly proved to be a comedy worth investing in, thanks in part to Hall’s scene-stealing work as head trader Dawn Darcy. Yes, she knows how to land a punchline, and Hall delivered each of Dawn’s foul-mouthed barbs with glee. But we were equally dazzled by her emotionally nuanced performance, subtly showing us the insecurities and vulnerabilities that Dawn carries as the lone woman in Wall Street’s lewd, sexist boys’ club.
JULIA LOUIS-DREYFUS, VEEP
WHY SHE DESERVES A NOD: HBO’s stinging political satire left office after a seven-season term, but Louis-Dreyfus’ final run as Selina Meyer was no lame duck. If anything, Selina got even more boldly conniving than ever, and Louis-Dreyfus spat out every stunningly creative four-letter insult like it’d be her last. But she also gave us unprecedented access to Selina’s heart (yes, she has one), as the always-campaigning candidate learned that the higher she climbed, the lonelier she felt. Let’s give this Emmy legend one more nod, shall we?
NATASHA LYONNE, RUSSIAN DOLL
WHY SHE DESERVES A NOD: In the Netflix comedy’s first season, Lyonne wasn’t just playing one character: She really portrayed dozens of Nadia Vulvokovs, each one a little bit changed after dying and coming back to life yet again. Lyonne was stunning as Russian Doll‘s time loop slowly chipped away at Nadia’s deeply held cynicism, replacing it with a thoughtfulness and compassion that the character was reluctant to embrace. It’s fitting that Russian Doll revolves so much around death; with every resurrection, and the emotional turmoil that came with it, Lyonne slayed us.
CATHERINE O’HARA, SCHITT’S CREEK
WHY SHE DESERVES A NOD: Wigs off to O’Hara. Every time we think the comedy legend can’t possibly make the ridiculous more sublime, she goes and proves us wrong. In Season 5 of Pop’s crown jewel, she not only made us feel the pathos of Moira’s roller-coaster ride with the Crows Have Eyes sequel, but she threw her flighty character into bebe-sitting with a seriousness that left us as giddy as a globetrotter high on Bosnian uppers.
PHOEBE WALLER-BRIDGE, FLEABAG
WHY SHE DESERVES A NOD: In the remarkable second season of her Amazon comedy, Waller-Bridge delivers maybe the TV performance of the year: a laugh-out-loud hilarious, emotionally penetrating glimpse inside one woman’s body, mind and soul. Her title character was delightfully frank and witty as usual, but as she pursued a forbidden romance with a Catholic priest, Waller-Bridge exposed the tiny cracks in her rock-hard shell of cynical humor, too — and took an already fascinating character to a whole new level.