Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
I'll be blunt: watching a junkie relapse and have her entire life disintegrate? Not really that funny, or entertaining for that matter. Jackie Peyton pretty much lost everything by the time the season was over, and watching her life spin out of control might be interesting if we hadn't already seen it happen three seasons ago. But there is something about Falco as an actress that rises above the often scummy material that she works with, particularly in the last three episodes of the season. I'm not sure how much more of a future she or the series has, but I can't deny her presence has a grim fascination that you can't look away from.
Patricia Heaton, The Middle
This is pretty much a futile cause, considering how determined Emmy voters seem to ignore to watch Sue as she tries to raise her family while keeping their heads above water. Heaton is the funniest and most desperate mother I've seen since the early days of Jane Kascmarek on Malcolm in the Middle. Maybe voters feel that given her record with Everybody Loves Raymond, she's had enough recognition. Like Heck she has.
Mindy Kaling, The Mindy Project
If we must honor a New York based writer-actress-professional, how about we recognize the one that's actually funny. Mindy has gone through more romantic rises and falls this season than any heroine this season, and her relationship with Danny was both extremely painful and comically gold. I have a sinking feeling that Lena Dunham will take her spot; I'm begging Emmy voters: honor the right hyphenate.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
I didn't think that a run for the Presidency this mismanaged could be this entertaining. And watching Selina try to run for the Presidency, while pissing so many people off, having an affair with her trainer, mismanaging a London trip and a trip to an Internet giant, and finally ending up with the Presidency by default---- and still not getting any respect --- has led to some of the funniest moments this season. I don't know if she deserves a third consecutive win, but she deserves another bite at the apple.
Amy Poehler, Parks & Recreation
Really? Is there anything that Leslie--- or the brilliant actress who plays her--- can't do? Watching her cavort through the Golden Globes with partner-in-crime Tina Fey has become so much fun I want them to host every awards show. But it masks a sad fact--- at the Emmys, she's a whopping 0-for-11. She has nothing left to prove. Make official the towering giant that she is.
Taylor Schilling, Orange is the New Black
I realize that many viewers of this series consider Piper the weak link within it. But give the girl some props. Playing the ultimate fish-out-of-water helps make a series that has equal parts comedy and poignancy is no easy task, but she does it far better than anyone else I can think of. Besides, even if she were nothing more than the straight woman (figuratively, not literally), watching her deal with some of the most painful situations that any woman should is still a lot more entertaining then the other pretenders.