Emmy-Nominated Strong Female TV Characters We Love

Is it just us, or are this year’s Emmy nominations totally stacked with inspiring, badass female characters? Thanks to new breakout shows like Big Little Lies and The Handmaid’s Tale, there are so many engaging stories told almost entirely from the perspectives of the women in them. With Sunday night’s awards just a few days away, let’s take a moment to remember some of the top leading (and supporting) ladies from our favorite shows. (Mild spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen these shows…)


Annalise Keating, How to Get Away With Murder (played by Viola Davis)


We’ve been following the saga of Annalise and her law students for a few seasons, and this crew of characters never ceases to bring the drama. But it’s Annalise Keating—the woman, the lawyer, the widow, the daughter—who keeps us coming back to How to Get Away With Murder every fall. She’s smart and complicated and vulnerable and far from perfect, and played so well by Viola Davis it’s hardly fair.


June Osborne aka Offred, The Handmaid’s Tale (played by Elizabeth Moss)


This Hulu original series (adapted from Margaret Atwood’s 1998 novel) was one of the most addictive shows we watched this year, and that’s thanks mostly to Elizabeth Moss’ portrayal of Offred, formerly June Osborne. At first she plays a passive role in her new life, being safe to stay alive. But as the show moves towards a breaking point, we see that Offred hasn’t forgotten who she was before everything changed. The clever, cunning and brave woman she’s always been hasn’t been defeated yet.


Madeline Mackenzie, Big Little Lies (played by Reese Witherspoon)


Every woman should have a friend like Madeline Mackenzie, the fiery blonde who fights for her friends (and her controversial production of Avenue Q) right from the start of Big Little Lies. While her one-liners and sassy attitude were delivered spot-on, it was Madeline’s fierce protection of her family and close friends that made her so compelling to watch (and root for!).


Celeste Wright, Big Little Lies (played by Nicole Kidman)


We have to commend the cast and crew of Big Little Lies over and over again for the nuanced and emotionally complex way they addressed abuse and assault in a relationship. Nicole Kidman’s character, Colette, shows strength and vulnerability in equal measure, and we couldn’t look away, even when it was difficult to watch.


Queen Elizabeth II, The Crown (played by Claire Foy)


Even if we’re all running our own tiny empires these days, it’s still rather hard to imagine the pressure and burden of presiding over an entire country as Queen—especially from such a young age. As Queen Elizabeth II, Claire Foy brings a humanity and humility to this epic character of history. From choosing whom to marry to keeping her finger on the political pulse with the Prime Minister, the queen showed grace and power in asserting herself and accepting help and advice when she needed it most.


Claire Underwood, House of Cards (played by Robin Wright)


We’ve been on quite the rollercoaster with the Underwoods over the past five seasons, and the best part has been watching Claire come fully into her own as a political force to be reckoned with. Now, we can’t exactly condone everything she does (Murder! Cheating! Manipulation!) we felt inspired by her cunning approach to negotiations and her relationship. For better and for worse, Claire Underwood is nothing if not a strong woman, conveyed with almost stupefying elegance by Robin Wright.


Taylor Davies for The BeeHive

Andee Olson