Lizzy Caplan as Virginia Johnson in Masters of Sex
While Bill Masters is the titular star of the show, Virginia John, is his equal in every sense of the word, and Lizzy Caplan is brilliant is pushing forward their study in human sexuality. Virginia is a single mother who wants to be more the the everyday secretary she is smart in every way possible. Caplan is brilliant at portraying the heart, determination, and courage this woman had. Caplan who has always had a knack for comedy, and while Virginia can be witty Caplan certainly does so much for this role.
Julianna Margulies as Alicia Florrick in The Good Wife
Margulies has created two of the best dramatic television characters of all time, and this year may have proven to show some of her strongest moments. Watching Alicia fight back against her mentors Will and Diane in the court room was great. Alicia was basically a bad ass. Then watching her grieve for a man she loved, a man that will always be her "what if" was devastating. From the episodes "Hitting the Fan" to "Last Call" there is such a range of emotions conveyed and Margulies hit a grand slam each and every time she went up to bat this season.
Tatiana Maslany as Sarah Manning, Alison Hendrix, Cosima Niehaus, Rachel Duncan, Jennifer Fitzsimmons, Tony Sawicki, and Helena in Orphan Black
Yes she plays that many characters, and Tatiana Maslany is amazing at each and every one of them. While last season I found Helena over the top; she was my favorite character Maslany played; she represented the dark, the brooding, and even the funny all in one. Sarah is of course the central focus, and her journey to protect her daughter was so heartfelt. Although how can you deny loving Alison starring in that musical then going into rehab. Maslany just makes each moment count, she is pure genius.
Kerri Russell as Elizabeth Jennings in The Americans
Russell plays Elizabeth's cold side brilliantly. No, that is not a Russian Cold War joke. Elizabeth is tough as a mother, a wife, a spy; she is able to shut down her feelings at a moments notice, but make her angry and watch out. In season two you get to watch Elizabeth explore more of that "what if" in regards to what if we are caught, what happens to me, my children, my husband. In the first episode when a family she knows is killed you see this journey play out for her, especially when she goes to visit their son who survived, this broke my heart, and Russell is a fantastic actress.
Taylor Schilling as Piper Chapman in Orange is the New Black
I think people take Taylor Schilling's talent for granted. What Schilling brought to the screen is one of the most in depth complex characters I have seen. Piper has gone through her life experiencing one thing, striving toward that perfection to keep up appearances, but in her struggle to bottle that up came rebellion. In her flashback you see her wound up but curious about Alex, which eventually leads her down a darker path, and eventually struggling with her role as a prisoner. I liked watching this character grow, understand the system, and the people around her.
Robin Wright as Claire Underwood in House of Cards
In one episode, in one scene Claire becomes more human, provides, and provides you with insight into what makes Claire who she has become. In a television interview Claire openly admits to being raped, she talks about giving up her baby, its the most emotionally charged moment for her; she opens up about the brutal truth to that moment. At the heart of this confession is politics, and the agenda to help her husband. That lays the foundation of the complexity and genius of her character. Robin Wright was not one of my dream nominees last year, but she owned this season, and was even better in fleshing out this role.