Ladies and gentlemen, we are currently in the glory days of television. Gone are the days of weak storylines and one-dimensional characters, which have now been replaced by full-formed, complex, flawed, multi-layered roles that never fail to keep us coming back for more.
But this new-age development is never more prominent than in today's batch of female actresses, who have brought their characters to almost epic proportions of greatness. These leading ladies are so fascinating to watch… so terrifyingly talented… that it's downright scary. Don't believe me? Check out some of our favorite females below and see just how they put us under their spell.
Jessica Lange: 'American Horror Story'
Anyone who's ever watched Lange in action on 'AHS' knows what a magnificent talent this woman truly is. She can portray ANYTHING and it's pretty much guaranteed to be phenomenal. Thus far, we've seen her play everything from a murderess next-door-neighbor to a nun at an insane asylum with a complicated past (along with a strong penchant for red lingerie). And now she's tackling the role of 'Coven's high-ranking Supreme witch, Fiona Goode, who is already proving to be this season's most interesting, multi-layered character. I mean, girl's got some serious range! (Can you tell I'm a huge fan?) Though, to be fair, most of this could also be said about this incredibly talented, female-dominant cast, but Lange still manages to steal the show every time. And though there's been recent talk about her retiring after Season 4
(*insert freakout here*), we can always hope that she changes her mind. (Note to self: I possibly love this creepy, twisted show too much. Make an appointment with therapist ASAP.)
Madeleine Stowe: 'Revenge'
You can't have a show based entirely around the concept of revenge without having a diabolical villain you absolutely love to hate. Enter Victoria Grayson, played by the oh-so-talented Madeleine Stowe. Those bone-chilling death stares and emotionally crippling comebacks are enough to send anyone running for the hills. Not to mention her amazing ability to make even the faintest whisper sound like a spine-tingling threat full of malice and hate. (Did it just get cold in here?) The heart of the show may revolve around Emily's quest for vengeance, but Stowe's Victoria is the glue that holds everything together and gives the show an extra level of depth it otherwise may not have gotten. She is flawless in her villainy, making her the official Evil Queen of the Hamptons. Now someone give this woman a crown!
Lana Parrilla: 'Once Upon a Time'
Speaking of Evil Queens, I would be amiss if I didn't make mention of the best female fairytale character currently on television. Parrilla's portrayal of the complicated past and present of Snow White's most legendary nemesis is just as enchanting as the show itself. It would be easy to give fans a character to automatically hate, however, Parrilla manages to bring an unexpected level of humanity to a renowned fairytale foe, making us not only second guess our preconceived childhood notions towards this character, but to sometimes even catch ourselves rooting for her. What magic is this? We're supposed to hate the Evil Queen, right? (I mean, the answer's kinda there in that title of hers. Plus, there's that whole crushing-hearts thing.) But we don't hate her. In fact, the show just wouldn't be the same without her. Parrilla's performance is quite spellbinding.
Lena Headey: 'Game of Thrones'
There's no denying this chick's got some serious flaws (like, you know, the whole being in love with your brother thing), but incestual tendancies aside, Cersei Lannister is an undeniable force of nature that is not to be toyed with. The men may like to think they rule the Iron Throne, but this actress's calculating character has proven that you don't need a sword or king's crown to hold the power in Westeros. Manipulation is this woman's bread and butter, making her much more dangerous (and enjoyable to watch) than any of her other royal counterparts. Plus, there's the whole Joffery situation. This girl deserves a medal just for tolerating his crap on a daily basis. She's fundamentally evil, but underneath it all still knows how to love, making her a truly unique television gem. And none of it could be done without Headey. Who needs an Iron Throne when you've already got an Iron Fist?
Tatiana Maslany: 'Orphan Black'
The show may only have one season under its belt, but Maslany has already demonstrated her monumental acting chops and established herself as a top-notch actress. I mean, she plays seven completely different (yet entirely interesting) characters! Not four, not six…SEVEN! The accents, the mannerisms, the demeanor — she nails it all. That's insanely awesome and extremely impressive to accomplish on a freshman series. If you have yet to watch this show, grab some popcorn, snuggle into those PJs, turn on that Netflix, and get ready to have your mind blown. Warning: binge-watching is not only possible, but completely expected. Be prepared to not accomplish anything else that day other than witnessing Maslany greatness.
Nina Dobrev: 'The Vampire Diaries'
For many people, CW shows are viewed as being "fluffy, girly shows" unworthy of much recognition. And while that may be the case for a select few (though I, myself, am a major CW girl), 'The Vampire Diaries' is not one of them. Not only are the story lines complex and interesting, but the cast is made up of incredibly talented actors, none more prominent than Nina Dobrev's portrayal of the lovely Elena Gilbert. The actress's ability to convey raw, realistic emotions is off the charts — remember her traumatic breakdown when she realized Jeremy was dead? So devastating! It's easy to become invested in her character not only based on likability (which she's got in spades), but also because of Dobrev's gift to draw us in and force us to feel everything she's going through. And while taking on multiple versions of your character (or even playing your very own Doppelgänger) would normally be considered difficult, the actress rises to the challenge each and every time. (How she can focus while surrounded by all those hot guys is beyond me, but she does!) It may be a show about vampires, but it's Dobrev's talent that's genuinely supernatural.
Now it's your turn? Can you think of any other terrifyingly talented leading ladies I've left out who deserve to be on the list? Sound off on your suggestions in the comments below!