So today I read again My Top 10 leading ladies on TV, and it´s time to go back and start doing the second part of it, following the same guidelines. If the leading role is another actor / actress, she better be awesome as the semilead, and a principal role enough. I ruled all cast ensembles (Glee, How I Met Your Mother and Modern Family, i.e.) out, and I ruled join leads (Rizzoli & Isles, Bones, Castle) in.
So, just to recap first, the top ten, and then we dive into the spots 11 through 20.
1- Betty White – Elka Ostrovsky on Hot in Cleveland
2- Stana Katic – Kate Beckett on Castle
3- Tina Fey – Liz Lemmon on 30 Rock
4- Laura Linney – Cathy Jamison on The Big C
5- Edie Falco – Jackie Peyton on Nurse Jackie
6- Julianna Margulies – Alicia Florrick on The Good Wife
7- Anna Torv – Olivia Dunham on Fringe
8- Courteney Cox – Jules Cobb on Cougar Town
9- Mary Louise Parker – Nancy Botwin on Weeds
10- Sarah Shahi – Kate Reed on Fairly Legal
Top 20 leading ladies in TV
11- Brooke Elliott – Jane Bingum – Drop Dead Diva
An amazing actress, singer and ultimately as lovely as can be. She is the lead in Drop Dead Diva, playing Jane Bingum, a super busy lawyer with her own assistant… but she is also an aspiring model that died, went to heaven and came back in another body. The only people who know what´s happening are her best frien Stacy and her guardian angel (Previously Fred and now Luke). The premise sounds a bit sketchy, but the show is really enjoyable. Thanks to Brooke Elliott and a great ensemble cast.
12- Piper Perabo – Annie Walker – Covert Affairs
She first stole everyone´s heart when on Coyote Ugly (Well, maybe not our hearts, but we definitely noticed). Now she is leading a Spy show in Covert Affairs, where she plays Annie Walker, a CIA agent operating the field. She has also the benefit of an amazing supporting cast headlined by Christopher Gorham as Auggie, Kari Matchett as her boss Joan, Anne Dudek as the sister Danielle and Peter Gallagher as CIA boss Arthur Campbell.
13- Emily Deschanel – Temperance Brennan – Bones
She is the lead in a long running dramedy alongside David Boreanaz. Booth and Bones where the epitome of will they won´t they. No matter what, this duo is one of the best chemistry showing on TV right now. And that´s always a good thing for viewers. Emily Deschanel deserves this spot, and also trumps her little sister Zooey who will be in the same list only a few spots lower. Only siblings on this list though.
14- Amy Poehler – Leslie Knope – Parks and Recreation
I have to admit, on the SNL days and even a little after that, prior to Parks and Recreation, I always saw Amy Poehler as a bit of a “poor man´s Tina Fey”. Luckily, she proved me wrong when she launched this uber funny mockumentary where we can see the absurd antics of an Indiana town’s public officials as they pursue sundry projects to make their city a better place.
15- Ashley Rickards – Jenna Hamilton – Awkward
I never expected to find myself watching an MTV dramedy, much less enjoying it as much as I do with Awkward. The biggest reason is how well constructed and performed the character of Jenna Hamilton is. And that makes Ashley Rickards climb the list and join forces in it with acting heavyweights. As a bonus trivia fact from her… she is listed on MENSA, so there… she also smart.
16- Melissa Mc Carthy – Molly flynn – Mike & Molly
She was the perfect companion to Lorelei Gilmore on The Gilmore Girls when she played Sookie. Then she was always the best friend of the lead and so on. Until a couple of years back, she landed the lead role on Mike & Molly and that helped her prove she belongs there, leading her own show. A show that, I might add, once it moved away from the fat jokes as only punchline, evolved into a solid sitcom making both her and Billy Gardell bonafide TV leads. Deservedly so.
17- Mariska Hargitay – Olivia Benson – Law & Order SVU
She has been playing Detectvie Olvia Benson for nearly 300 episodes, ever since 1999. And she´s been doing it on an as solid as can get franchise like Law & Order, leading her own L&O. Procedurals are a force to be reckoned with, I know. But not all procedurals work, and much less for so long as Law & Order: Special Victims Unit; if that´s not a testament of how good a lead Mariska Hargitay is, I don´t know what else to say.
18- Emily Van Camp – Emily Thorne – Revenge
I wasn´t planning on putting her in this list. I have, though, thought about other lists where she fits perfectly ever since Everwood. But in the top 20 leading ladies, I just didn´t picture her; and the came Revenge, a show that took everybody by storm, making her soapy show a breakout hit, and putting Emily VanCamp on the top of any Bi-otch list. So, of course, she gets into the leading ladies list too.
19- Melissa Joan Hart – Melissa Burke – Melissa & Joey
She started leading show when she was a teenager, doing Clarissa Explains it All, and the casted a spell on all of us as Sabrina the teenage witch. Now, almost ten years later, she is leading a show in which she is now the aunt and not the kid in Melissa & Joey, alongside Joey Lawrence. This show is all about the chemistry between the two of them, and it´s so perfect, that it makes for a very enjoyable show and the closest thing to a Ross & Rachel tension between the characters, but luckily going a different route.
20- Zooey Deschanel – Jess – New Girl
The breakout comedy New Girl took everybody by surprise and managed to become a steady force in its timeslot. I know, there are other characters and actors there who are very funny, but do you think, just for a minute, that the success of New Girl isn´t almost entirely Zooey´s?
Well, here´s the end of this list, but there are several actresses that barely missed it was anyone´s game. Among those who very well could´ve been in it:
Callie Thorne from Necessary Roughness, Anna Paquin from True Blood, both Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander from Rizzoli & Isles, Maggie Q from Nikita, Jennifer Morrison from Once Upon a Time, Jane Levy from Suburgatory, Rachel Bilson from Hart of Dixie, Ellen Pompeo from Grey´s Anatomy, Kate Walsh from Private Practice, Kerry Washington from Scandal and Poppy Montgomery from Unfirgettable.
So, help me get it right. Let me know your thoughts. And also, remember to follow me on Twitter for more lists like this.