A farewell to ‘Orphan Black’

In 2013 Sarah Manning entered a Canadian train station and witnessed the suicide of woman who had the exact same face as her. Her entire world would be upended and for the first time I found myself completely hooked by nothing but the opening scene of a television series.

This Saturday “Orphan Black” will air its final episode ever, it’s cheesy to say but it’s truly the end of an era.  For five glorious seasons “Orphan Black” will have churned out 50 episodes of non-stop, thought provoking, well-written, brilliantly acted, somehow scientifically sense-making television.

For five fantastic years Emmy winner Tatiana Maslany (does anyone else still get ridiculously giddy when saying that phrase?), has played countless character ranging from countless women, one incredible man and even a scorpion. She’s been surrounded by an incredible supporting cast, most notably Jordan Gavaris’ sorely underrated Felix, Kevin Hanchard’s all-around good man Art, Kristian Bruun’s ridiculous yet somehow brave Donnie and Ari Millen’s many castor clones who carried the heavy weight of living up to the standard expertly set by Maslany.

For five brilliant years the talented people behind this show have brought a fandom, lovingly known as the Clone Club, together. We’ve experienced every emotion, every laugh, every heartbreak, every loss and every creepy thing Kira has said side by side.

And to all that and the many other things this show has given us I simply say, thank you. Thank you for the inspiration, for these incredible, dynamic characters, for the representation and for what has probably been the most overall well done and consistent television series I’ve ever seen. Not even boring old Paul brought down the long time high quality this show has always churned out.

It’s gonna be hard to say goodbye. It’s gonna be hard to let go of these beautiful characters I’ve grown so attached to. But even though it’ll be difficult it’s also a welcomed thing, because I feel confident that this finale will be amazing, satisfying and completely fit of what these characters all deserve.

I don’t know what’s going to happen in the finale, much like always I’m sure this show will do something incredibly smart and unexpected. All I do know for sure is I’m gonna take it all in and love every final second we’re given just as I’ve loved and felt every second they’ve given us before.

We’ll always have these five seasons and the amazing things the Clone Club experienced together, so let’s buckle up for what’s bound to be one outstanding final ride.

Welcome to the final trip, man.

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UPDATED: A fangirl’s definitive ranking of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has become known for their amazing films since 2008’s “Iron Man.” But we all know that some have been better than others and some have just fallen flat. So let’s rank the movies so far from worst to best.

Now updated to include this weekend’s latest Marvel release, which nearly drops all the films in the MCU down a notch.

*Authors note: in complete honesty I never could be bothered to even watch ‘Doctor Strange’ hence it’s absence from this list.

15. ‘Iron Man 3’

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I know people love this movie and it made all the money but the third Iron Man stand-alone tried a lot of things and most of them didn’t work. The film’s villains fell flat compared to the first two films and it didn’t seem to know just how to handle Tony’s world post “Avengers.” The biggest problem was the new director; Jon Favreau was sorely missed behind the camera.

14. ‘The Incredible Hulk’

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While Mark Ruffalo has mastered the character, Edward Norton’s turn as Bruce Banner was enjoyable. The story was solid and didn’t try to simply redo the first film, which we should never ever speak of. The film successfully redeemed the Hulk name in the MCU, but wasn’t a stand out worthy of a higher spot.

13. ‘Thor: The Dark World’

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This sequel wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t as good as its predecessor either. Loki yet again stole the show, but supporting characters like Lady Sif and Fandral deserved more screen time than they were allotted. Jane could have used more to do than damsel it for the better part of the movie as well.

12. ‘Iron Man’

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The movie that started it all started it all with a bang. Tony’s enigmatic personality was brilliantly played with the utmost perfect casting decision of Robert Downy Jr. Because of the incredible director/actor duo of Downey and Favreau Marvel’s new era was reigned in pretty perfectly.

11. ‘Ant-Man’

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“Ant-Man” could have been a trainwreck. When the longtime connected director and screenwriter dropped out of the film fans were worried, but the tiny hero rose above the negativity. Paul Rudd perfectly combines humor and hero as Scott Lang and the movie proved itself to be a standout in the MCU. Ant-Man is a lesser known Marvel hero and the movie gave the character a well-deserved spotlight.

10. ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’

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While not everyone loved the Avengers follow up you can’t deny its awesome villain and witty dialogue. Also for those long suffering Hawkeye fans like me this movie finally gave him some well-deserved screen time. Not a perfect film, but a solid ending to Joss Whedon’s time with the MCU.

9. ‘Spiderman: Homecoming’

It took a long time but Marvel finally got Spiderman right. Tom Holland is a perfect fit for the role, playing the fact that Spidey really is just a kid at the end of the day fantastically. Plus that plot twist was the first time I was genuinely shocked by something in a Marvel film. The only reason this isn’t higher on the list is because it could have been better with a lot less or no Tony Stark at all.

8. ‘Thor’

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Chris Hemsworth was another perfect casting choice by Marvel and no one expected this film to be as good as it was. “Thor” could have been ridiculous, draped in too much out of this world mythology, but it wasn’t. And of course we can’t overlook the fact that this movie graced the world with the rise of Tom Hiddleston who stole every scene he was in as Loki, Thor’s mischievous little brother.

7. ‘Iron Man 2’

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Easily the best of the Iron Man stand-alone films, this one brought us a new side to Tony and the romance we all saw coming. The introduction of Black Widow was in its own way overdue since she should be in everything since the beginning of the creation of all things Marvel. Sam Rockwell, while a ridiculous villain, was brilliant as he tends to be in every role he tackles. The return of Nick Fury and Phil Coulson also made this movie the finest of the Iron Man films.

6. ‘ Captain America: Civil War’

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“Civil War” isn’t a great Captain America movie but it is a well done Avengers movie if we’re being honest. While Steve and Bucky’s relationship still takes center stage in the film, it could have been focused on even more. Because of that it’s amazing. The Steve/Bucky dynamic is one of the most intriguing and deeply emotional connections in the whole of the Marvel Universe and Sebastian Stan and Chris Evans continued to portray it perfectly in this film. Black Panther’s introduction also set’s up for what is hopefully an incredible future onscreen for the character.

5. ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’

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He’s the first Avenger for a reason, because he’s awesome. Steve Rogers is the everyman, nice guy that everyone can get behind. You root for him at every turn and his first major movie is an excellent portrayal of the hero origin story. With a supporting cast comprised of brilliant actors, like the most kick ass woman in the MCU, Hayley Atwell nothing about this movie falls short. Captain America’s first major on-screen appearance proved why he is the man known to always lead the Avengers.

4. ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’

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Let’s be honest, you put Andy Dwyer in space with a talking tree and a gun toting raccoon you expect it to turn out as a cheesy laugh-riot comedy. That wasn’t the case, though the film is definitely funny it’s also a surprising space epic for the ages. “Guardians” was an unexpected hit with an amazing ensemble cast and a story that was oddly relatable. No one expected to shed tears over a tree and a raccoon, but this movie made us all do that.

3. ‘The Avengers’

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No matter how many Avengers movies they make the first one will always be the best one. It was the first time a superhero team-up had been successfully done in a major film and it was executed brilliantly. Whedon perfectly encapsulated the struggle of bringing together a team of unlikely heroes with a great story and script that was portrayed with the stellar performances from the entire cast. The reality is every Avengers movie will have to live in the shadow of the original triumph.

2. ‘Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2’

The second installment of the “Guardians” franchise isn’t just amazing because of the cutest dancing tree in the universe, much like it’s predecessor it maintains humor throughout but also brought new depth to the beloved crew of characters. It also continues to benefit from it’s separation from the rest of the MCU, no pop up appearances of Tony Stark taking over or anything of the like allow the film to just be about this ragtag group of heroes we’ve grown to love. Great music, witty dialogue, excellent performances all around and an unexpectedly poignant commentary of what it means to be family all made up for not only an incredible Marvel film, but just an incredible film overall.

1. ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’

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The second stand-alone film for Cap very nearly put every prior MCU movie to shame. Winter Soldier gets everything right. Every actor is perfect, especially Sebastian Stan who gives an incredibly emotional performance without saying a word for the better part of the movie. The action is thrilling, the story takes the superhero movie to new political thriller heights and the direction from the Russo brothers is compelling and holds your attention from start to finish. Just as every future Avengers film will live in the shadow of the original, it’s safe to say that every stand-alone Marvel film will have to live in the shadow of “The Winter Soldier.”

‘Shadowhunters’ 2×19 review: a royal betrayal

After last week, which was possibly the best episode of the series to date, “Shadowhunters” welcomed the true beginning of a war, but the sides are turning out different than anyone expected. Let’s talk ‘Hail and Farewell.’

The episode could be described with one word: tension.

The intense meeting between the Downworld leaders and Shadowhunters was a fantastic scene to watch. In any other circumstances the Downworlders would be making the right call. This isn’t personal, if it was Magnus, Luke and Raphael would be finding another way, it’s about the Clave who’ve proven no loyalty to anyone but themselves. However this time around it’s the wrong call because as suspected the Seelie queen has been playing everyone the entire time.

The most poignant tension in the room came between Magnus and Alec. Both are clearly heartbroken and attempting to hold together any resolve they have just barely. Alec’s looking at the Seelie queen when he talks but his words are most definitely meant for a certain other man in the room.

After an intense meeting we were FINALLY introduced to Catarina Loss and got to see the world’s cutest warlock, Madzie, again. Catarina is an absolute delight, she’s simultaneously comforting and cool as hell. It’s fantastic to see Magnus get such a comfortable friendship like this onscreen; I look forward to there being so much more of her next season.

Meanwhile, Jonathan continues to lose his damn mind. Will Tudor manages to get creepier and creepier every week. And no I don’t for a second think he’s actually dead, that reveal is likely to be the cliffhanger this season. He was at his finest this week however in his literal drag and fight with Jace. Overall the action in this episode was fantastic, though I could have used a little bit more for Alec and Izzy.

Simon continues to be a nearly constant ray of hope in all the heaviness. He’s not buying what the Seelie queen is selling and bless the boy for it. Speaking of the Seelie queen she took on a new form tonight all grown up and portrayed by Sarah Hyland. Hyland is a fantastic comedian so it was interesting to see her tackle something a little more serious, she wasn’t bad but there’s just something much more threating about Lola Flanery’s portrayal.

In the end though she definitely nailed that betrayal however; it’s not unexpected that the queen has had ulterior power play moves this entire time, but seeing Meliorn on her side stung a bit (*insert Tyra Banks ‘I was rooting for you’ gif*).

And here’s my controversial opinion: Jace and Clary just really don’t do much for me. I’ve come to accept that their romance will generally be a weak point. But we’ve reached a place with the series where the episodes are so strong that if there’s going to be a weak point I’m fine with it being the overdone white straight tragic romance.

Other bits: those photo booth pictures of Magnus and Alec were the cutest and I want 100 more of them, I’ve said it before and I’ll say again if everyone just listened to Luke Garroway before things exploded they’d all have a lot less troubles, Simon talking to the river lmao, it was nice to see Clary remembering that Luke is basically her dad, and Luke telling Alec over the phone to give Maryse his best?? Let my Luke/Maryse romance rise!

Also any guesses on who that Alicante mole is? My money’s on world’s worst grandmother Imogen Herondale.

NEXT WEEK: it’s season finale time and dammit we’re getting battle couple Malec (will my dreams of a battlefield come true?!)

‘Shadowhunters’ 2×18 review: a beautiful roller coaster of emotion (and don’t worry Malec fans)

In this week’s episode ‘Awake, Arise or Be Forever Fallen’ quite literally everyone was at the top of their game. It’s no secret my favorite things about this show are Magnus, Alec, Luke and Maia, so tonight’s episode may have just become my favorite of the series. I usually close with Malec, but I’m bursting with emotion about them so let’s start there.

Through a series of flashbacks and in the current day we got a look at the epic love that is that between Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood in a way we never quite have. Even the little things, like Magnus carrying the omamori that Alec gave him everywhere he goes, went straight to your heart.

I’ve never actively seen a show not only make the effort, but actually fix a mistake they made in the past. The end of 2×07 was widely, and rightly, criticized and the writers took the opportunity of Magnus’ reflection to listen to their LGBTQ+ fans and fix those mistakes. Seeing tenderness between two men and having it be seen and shown with the care it deserves is so important. Tonight Magnus and Alec finally got that. The soft playfulness, desire and genuine love and affection that came pouring through the two in the 2×07 flashbacks was all so beautiful.

Matthew Daddario and Harry Shum Jr. have always had the best romantic onscreen chemistry on the show and tonight that chemistry was taken to new gorgeous heights. From the way they laughed and smiled to the unending and endearing softness in their voices when they talked about fears and Alec looked into Magnus’ warlock mark and saw only beauty, every second you could feel the emotion flowing deep and vast.

The season one flashback was unexpected, but it was so very welcomed. It showed the great progress that these two have made. They’ve gone from guarded borderline hostility out of the fear of what they could be to being so in love it physically aches to be apart.

In the present day they’re still reeling from the aftermath of their fight last week, but for a moment that’s pushed aside when Max is injured. The fact that Alec knows he has no right to be asking for help right now and is so desperately sorry for keeping a secret from Magnus is another example of his growth since the start of the show.

Their final scene together this week was heart wrenching. There’s no way to ever get over the strain in Magnus’ voice or Alec’s tears. These are two people so wildly and endlessly in love with each other and this isn’t an easy moment for them. Daddario and Shum Jr. manage to break your heart while also making you know with full certainty that these two will be okay. This love runs too deep and they will always find their way back to each other. This is not a breakup. This is not what a breakup looks like. This is however two people being forced to make some choices that they can’t necessarily make together. Magnus has to think of his people, turning against the Clave doesn’t equal turning against Alec but for the moment he needs to take that step back and make the choice without Alec. These two are getting a nuanced, political, raw and realistic for their situation heartache. This isn’t some excessive miscommunication or sneaky behind their back action (*cough, cough* the books), it’s a real terrifying aspect of their relationship that will always exist. Magnus said it himself this is what he’s afraid of. The fact of the matter is they’ll find a way through this; they’ll be fighting side by side before the season ends. These two are forever.

While Shum Jr. and Daddario were stealing every second, Alisha Wainwright and Isaiah Mustafa were also working on owning your soul. Wainwright has been such an incredible addition to this cast and this week we saw Maia the future leader, while also shedding a few tears to hear her talk about how she came to be a werewolf. Luke has been widely underserviced this season, but this episode showed the Luke we need to see every single week; the level headed leader and badass alpha that thinks first but also takes action when he needs to. Mustafa is just so damn good in this role and that absolutely needs to be utilized more. The Seelie court scene yet again displayed perfectly the way he thinks and leads as well as his friendship with Magnus. Shum Jr. killed it in this scene as well, showing his professionalism and hesitance.

Meanwhile while Max fought for his life the Lightwood family all brought raw emotion to the screen. Daddario wasn’t just killing us slowly with Malec, but also with Alec the protective big brother, Emeraude Toubia almost sent me into tears while talking to an unconscious Max and I don’t think I’ve ever been so relieved for Maryse and Robert to walk into a room than when they did.

Lastly Will Tudor finally got to drop all facades and truly become Jonathan, no longer Sebastian. He was genuinely terrifying with his creepy smiles and effective brutality. The fact that he’ll no longer be putting on a show to convince them all he’s someone else is something I’m looking forward to.

Other bits to appreciate: Jace is a Lightwood dammit just look at those moments when they were waiting to find out about Max, Bat Valasquez welcome to the show I fully plan to love you, Isabelle is such a beautifully loving and supportive sister with all of her brothers, bless Clary for knowing that her homicidal brother is irredeemable, Ollie girl I definitely understand why at San Diego they said Luke’s story isn’t resolved there’s no way it could be with what we have left and is anyone else questioning why a certain Downworld leader has been totally out of the loop these past few episodes? Where you at Raphael?

Next Week: we all know everything’s going to keep going to hell and Sarah Hyland guest stars as an equally as deceiving older edition of the Seelie queen!

‘Shadowhunters’ 2×17 review: mirror, mirror

As the season winds down, ‘A Dark Reflection’ definitely got dark.

Let’s begin with a Lightwood sibling who’s finally back on her game. Izzy had a nice episode this week. Her relationship with Max is so protective and sweet, but Max is too smart for his own good. Isabelle’s scenes with Simon were also nice giving us that first taste of the future that the pair could have. Her highlight of the episode was however the conversation with Maia. These two should absolutely have more scenes together.

Luke has finally gotten some screen time of late and it’s always delightful. From that little dad chuckle™ towards Simon to the scenes between he and Magnus, Luke once again was a highlight of the episode. He’s a calm in the storm, a level head and his involvement might just keep everything from falling apart totally. Hopefully, he can talk Magnus’ storm down a bit more with those docile level headed dad leader ways of his that Isaiah Mustafa plays so perfectly next week.

Speaking of Garroway’s, seeing Cleophas again was nice. Lisa Berry is an incredible actress and her willingness to drag Sebastian and fight back against Valentine was fantastic to watch. Garroway’s really know how to kick ass that’s for sure.

Sebastian and Valentine are terribly villainous together, but kudos to Elliot for trying, though it is nice to know that Jocelyn is still screwing over her terrible ex-husband from beyond the grave. Also a shout out to Alec for continuing to not truly trust Sebastian you may have made some bad calls this week, but this is definitely not one of them.

Which brings us to Alec’s very bad choice this week, a lie that will cause some brief heartbreak for everyone’s favorite pair.

The most serious angst for Magnus and Alec has hit, but it’s not the kind of unnecessary angst we’re so used to seeing in tv couples (cheating, unnecessary deceiving, biphobia, pressuring someone to come out, *cough, cough the books*). This is the kind of argument that was bound to hit them one day. Alec sits in a very unenviable spot between his duty to the greater good and his duty to the love of his life. Magnus sits in a very similar position. Their relationship will always be heavily political, there will always be factors that will leave them in tough spots and sometimes they won’t make the right choice. This relationship is so deep, but also still so new. Should Alec have told Magnus about the sword immediately? Maybe, but you can understand from his side why he didn’t, how he’s still learning to balance his professional life and personal life in a way that no one gets hurt. Magnus is rightfully angry. And that fire and rage was played incredibly well as usual by Harry Shum Jr. The whole confrontation between the pair was different from what we’ve seen from them before and a stark contrast to the soft date night that began the episode for them. As usual though no matter what the chemistry demands, Shum Jr. and Matthew Daddario knocked it out of the park.

This fight’s not over, rightly so, but these two are strong and next week it’s bound to take them to even deeper and more meaningful parts of their relationship than they’ve been at before.

Other bits for review: Sebastian you incestuous weirdo get off your sister, Alec if you’re sweating so much that you can’t eat lobster off a fork from your boyfriend maybe it’s a sign you shouldn’t be lying, kind of had to LOL when Jace was openly insulting Johnathan right in front of him, the mirror is an actual compact mirror which I expected it to be larger, and Maia, girl, where do you buy all your clothes?

Next Week: Pretty sure *spoiler* isn’t actually dying, Malec are gonna break our hearts but simultaneously rise us up with a couple long overdue flashbacks and the Garrobane BROTP continues to sail on a mission to the Seelie court where putting any trust in the queen is likely to be a very bad idea.

‘Shadowhunters’ 2×16 review: family complications

In this week’s Paul Wesley guest directed episode ‘A Day of Atonement’ family took the forefront and things got more complicated than before.

Alberto Rosende and Alisha Wainwright were easily the highlight of the episode giving us our only dose of Downworlder for the week. Together they are an absolute delight. Their chemistry is fantastic and their ability to riff off one another is incredible to watch. Simon has a lovely family; it was nice to see him truly get a story that was about him, his religion and his family and not centered on Clary. Maia getting a lot more depth was also a nice touch, she has such an interesting back story that hopefully they delve into more.

The Lewis family weren’t the only ones facing down drama; the Lightwood’s had their fair share as well. There are three things that Matthew Daddario plays best as Alec, sass, brotherly protection and being in love with Magnus. And he played all of those incredibly well, even though Magnus wasn’t in the episode; he defended his relationship, confided in Izzy and had no time for his father’s excuses.

While Alec and Robert’s relationship is seriously on the rocks, at least they can say it’s better than Valentine and Johnathan/Sebastian. Will Tudor, like the character or not, is playing him to a creepy and menacing level that’s impressive to watch. He feels more like a villain than he ever did in the books and far more than Valentine did all of season one. That being said, now both hitting their full evil potential Alan Van Sprang and Tudor are likely to reign over terrifyingly for the final haul of the season.

Meanwhile Jace and Clary went on another unsanctioned wild mission that’s likely to have some consequences. While it wasn’t necessarily bad to watch it was the weak point of the episode, it could be that their story is the most close to the books it leaves less to be surprised about. However Izzy coming to their rescue was nice to see. She and Alec have truly gotten back to their bond that existed in season one and it’s such an amazing part of the series.

Other little bits to love include Simon’s delightful grandma, the angel must have some great moisturizer and didn’t this episode just feel so very “The Vampire Diaries” in its tone?

Next Week: when will they let Malec rest and everything is exploding for everyone.

2017 Emmy nomination hopes

In the age of Peak TV there’s a whole lot of television and performances out there; so many performances that some slide under the radar, especially in the vast field of comedy. These are a few of the best episodes, performances and overall shows that deserve a shot at a win this year.

Comedy

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

The show absolutely deserves a nomination, but in particular the writing for the standout season four episode ‘Moo Moo’ deserves to be nominated and win an Emmy this year. The episode tackled racial profiling within police departments and was handled with surprising grace, appropriate humor and a proper serious tone as well. Terry Crews gave an incredible performance in the episode, as he always does, as did Andre Braugher. Both actors should earn a nomination as well.

Maya Rudolph as Dionne Warwick

While the latest season of “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” started a little slow, the absolute highlight of the season had to be Rudolph’s unexpectedly hilarious performance as famed musician Dionne Warwick. Her voice, her grace and those damn Baby Corns made Rudolph one of the best things that has ever happened on the series as a whole and more than deserving of a guest star nomination.

Atlanta

It’s likely that “Atlanta” will get nominated for its fantastic first season, but I just wanted to mention it because it deserves it so much. Donald Glover especially deserves a nomination for his lead role.

Master of None

The second season of Aziz Ansari’s Netflix comedy was unique and well done just like it’s first. But the season’s pinnacle ‘Thanksgiving’ episode needs a nomination for writing. If ‘Parents’ was the standout of season one ‘Thanksgiving’ was definitely season two’s. The story of Denise’s life long journey towards coming out to her family was so well told I actually cried during the scene where she tells her mother, played wonderfully by Angela Basset who should also earn a guest star nomination.

Drama

“The Americans”, “The Americans”, and “The Americans”: probably the most underrated series that’s pure Emmy bait yet never wins anything. That’s all I have to say here, just give those people all the Emmy’s already.

Genre Shows

In general I’ve chosen that the hill I’ll die on is the insistence that more than two fantasy/sci-fi genre shows get any sort of awards recognition. Some in particular standout more than others though like “iZombie’s” Rose McIver and “Orphan Black’s” Tatiana Maslany. While Maslany won last year, she truly deserves to win every single year though sadly Maslany missed the Emmy eligibility period this year due to the shows summer status. Meanwhile, McIver is churning out different performances and personalities every week to absolute perfection but is constantly overlooked because of the network she’s on and the type of show she stars in.

Seeing ‘Luke Cage’ earn a number of nominations would be a dream come true as well. That entire series was well-crafted, brilliantly acted and visually stunning.

Here’s hoping some of these hopefuls will earn their well-deserved nominations this season.

2017 Emmy nominations will be announced Thursday, July 13.