2014 was a stellar year for TV, and many of the small screen’s finest performances were delivered by the ladies! We present to you the ten women who ruled TV over the past year, and why they are worthy of all the accolades.
Caitriona Balfe – Outlander
The role of Claire Randall came with some really high expectations, all of which Caitriona Balfe has exceeded in her performance on Outlander. Smart, resilient and I’d argue sexually confident unlike any other character we’ve ever seen, Claire has found herself in the most precarious of situations: being happily married to Frank Randall in the 1940s; and being forced into a marriage with the young Jaime Fraser after falling through time into the 1700s. From plotting an escape so she can return to a stone circle and go back to her beloved Frank, to guiltily falling for Jamie, there couldn’t have been a more perfect casting choice than Caitriona Balfe.
Allison Tollman – Fargo
I had never heard the name Allison Tolman before Fargo, and now I couldn’t imagine a world where she’s not on our screens! She owned every scene she was in with her nuanced portrayal of Molly Solverson of Bemidji’s police department. She was not content to take the easy way out and her persistence is what solved the case!
Tatiana Maslany – Orphan Black
The second season of this series had Tatiana Maslany not only playing the clones we had come to know in the highly acclaimed first season, some more clones were also thrown into the mix, including Tony, a transgender clone. Even though I know there’s one woman playing all of these characters, sometimes I have to remind myself because each is so vibrant and unique. Also, while we thought having three clones in a room at the same time in Season 1 was remarkable, Orphan Black totally upped its game in Season 2 with a four clone dance party!
Gina Rodriguez – Jane the Virgin
I admit, when I first heard the concept for Jane the Virgin, I thought it was doomed to fail, but here we are — the series has captured our hearts and even earned some award nominations, and it’s thanks to Gina Rodriguez as the titular character, Jane. She has the power to make us buy into this far-fetched tale, and cheer her on as she makes the best of a rather awkward predicament. Whether Jane’s trying to break through her famous father’s carefully created facade, getting to know baby daddy Rafael, or going head-to-head with Rafael’s wife, Petra, Gina Rodriguez brings a realness to an unreal situation.
Lisa Kudrow – The Comeback
It’s hard to put into words how profoundly Lisa Kudrow’s performance as Valerie Cherish affected me. Here we have this TV star trying to recapture her former glory and has a film crew along to capture this “comeback”. She’ll (unwittingly) sacrifice everything for her moment in the spotlight, including her marriage, friendships, and her dignity. You could say she’s bit of a narcissist, but with good intentions. All she really wants is to be liked. Lisa Kudrow loses herself in this role so much that it’s hard to believe Valerie Cherish doesn’t really exist.
Mindy Kaling – The Mindy Project
Mindy Kaling has created one of the best comedies on TV at the moment, writing and playing one of the most honest female characters. In its third season, The Mindy Project has continued to deliver the laughs as Mindy Lahiri and Danny Castellano try to navigate around being co-workers and a couple. Also, the Season 2 finale may have been one of the most perfect episodes of television EVER!
Abigail Spencer – Rectify
Rectify is a series that quietly entered the TV landscape in 2013 and ended up on many critics’ “best of” lists. It’s a complicated, emotional drama with multi-layered characters that are a dream for any actor to play. Abigail Spencer fell in love with Rectify as soon as she read the script, and knew she had to be part of it. Amantha Holden is a role that doesn’t come around often. The second season was as powerful as the first, and Spencer’s portrayal of Amantha is something that haunts you and has you thinking during the long months between seasons.
Uzo Aduba – Orange Is the New Black
Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren is one of the most complex characters on OITNB, and Uzo Aduba plays her masterfully. Yes, her over the top character is responsible for a lot of the humour in this series, but It’s her vulnerability and longing to find her place in the world that really resonates. Many of the moments that packed the biggest punch to the gut have been courtesy of this woman.
Amy Poehler – Parks and Recreation
The final season of Parks and Recreation is almost here, and we’ve been through it all with Leslie Knope, the passionate, driven, loyal overachiever that put Pawnee on the map (although it doesn’t really exist). She’s faced heartache, rejection, ignorance, mergers, and finding out she was born in Eagleton, but she’s survived it all. In 2015, we’ll see Amy Poehler’s alter ego tread that line between politics and family, but we were thrilled to see Leslie Knope come out on top at the end of Season 6.
Keri Russell – The Americans
The spy world is a hard one to navigate, especially when you’re a KGB operative during the Cold War 80s. Add being a mother to kids who were born in the USA and have no clue that this isn’t an all-American family, and you have an idea of why Keri Russell is such a powerhouse as Elizabeth Jennings on The Americans. Her work as a spy is fantastic, but she really shines when going up against a strong-willed teenage daughter who wants to join a church — in this case, a Communist mom’s worst nightmare.
Which women did you think owned the small screen in 2014? Let us know in the comments below!