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Best TV scenes of the past year for Emmys consideration: EW picks 20

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ABC; AMC; HBO

The 2015 Emmys race is here!

Well, it’s almost here. On Tuesday, the Television Academy released the list of eligible submissions for the first round of voting — all 6,005 of them. (Really.) The next step? Members of the TV Academy will begin voting online to narrow it down, and the final list of contenders contenders will be released on July 16. The awards ceremony will take place on Sept. 20 in Los Angeles.

At EW, everyone feels very passionately about TV — and we’re also terribly opinionated. So when we asked the staff to submit their own contenders for the best TV scenes of 2015, great debates ensued. Some tears were shed, maybe a little blood,  and we wasted far too many precious work minutes rewatching clips in our offices and laughing (or crying).

Some amazing shows and scenes didn’t make the final list (we still love you, Silicon Valley!), but we think we reached 20 of the most award-worthy scenes of 2015. Check our choices and the clips out below, and let us know if you think we hit the mark—or if we missed something you absolutely loved. For obvious reasons, spoilers ahead!

(And if you want to read further interviews with the show’s stars and creators of the shows below, pick up the new issue of EW, on stands now.)   

1. The Jinx (HBO)

Ep. 6, “What the Hell Did I Do?”

Scene: Robert Durst accidentally confesses to murder.

When accused murderer Robert Durst walked into the men’s room, unaware that his mic was hot, and inadvertently delivered the most mind-blowing confession in TV history, mumbling to himself: “What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course,” it was hard to tell what was more enthralling: Durst’s monologue, or the debates it stirred up afterward. Did series director Andrew Jarecki have an ethical responsibility to make the confession public as soon as it happened? Whatever the answers, this was a next-level crime drama. — Melissa Maerz

2. How to Get Away With Murder (ABC)

Ep. 4, “Let’s Get to Scooping”

Scene: Annalise Keating (Viola Davis) removes her wig.

When Davis’ steely lawyer Keating stared into a mirror, ready to confront her husband about his affair with a now-dead student, when she removes her makeup and with every painful stroke, wipes away her glossy shell and uncovers raw emotive layers of both a character and an actress. — Marc Snetiker

3. Inside Amy Schumer (Comedy Central)

Ep. 1, “Last F–kable Day”

Scene: “Last F–kable Day”

Even within a consistently A+ season, no sketch better encompasses the delicate balance between comedy and sharp social commentary on Inside Amy Schumer than “Last F–kable Day.” Schumer happens upon Tina Fey, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Patricia Arquette in a bucolic meadow as they’re celebrating Louis-Dreyfus’ LFD—the one where Hollywood decides you are no longer believably… you know. — Sara Vilkomerson

4. Mad Men (AMC)

Ep. 12, “Lost Horizon”

Scene: Elisabeth Moss saunters into McCann Erickson.

The scene is just 23 seconds long, but it’s probably the most memorable of the final season. Following a booze-fueled day with Roger (John Slattery) where she learns it’s not as important as she thinks to “make men feel at ease,” Peggy makes an instantly GIF-able entrance on her first day at McCann Erickson, turning heads as she sashays in with shades, a lit cigarette, and Bert Cooper’s erotic octopus painting under her arm. — Jeff Labrecque

5. Transparent (Amazon)

Ep. 6, “The Wilderness”

Scene: Maura’s speech to her son-in-law.

All season long, we saw the Pfeffermans’ adult children gossip about their transgender parent, Maura. Finally Maura gets to speak for herself. — Maerz

6. The Americans (FX)

Ep. 10, “Stingers”

Scene: Elizabeth and Philip tell their daughter they are spies.

In the most intense family meeting ever, the long-suspicious Paige (Holly Taylor) finally confronts her parents, forcing them to reveal that they aren’t, well, Americans. — Ray Rahman

7. Sons of Anarchy (FX)

Ep. 12, “Red Rose”

Scene: Jax kills Gemma.

She had it coming. If SOA creator Kurt Sutter was playing out his version of a modern-day Hamlet under the guise of a motorcycle drama, his 21st-century Gertrude, the treacherous Gemma Teller Morrow, was going to have to meet her maker. — Lynette Rice

8. Veep (HBO)

Ep. 5, “Convention”

Scene: Amy finally snaps.

Though nominated twice for portraying perpetually put-upon White House staffer Brookheimer, Anna Chlumsky has never taken home the gold. This should be her year, primarily because of the head-turning meltdown she has in the fifth episode. “You are the worst thing that has happened to this country since food in buckets,” she hisses. “And maybe slavery.” — Dan Snierson

9. Homeland (Showtime)

Ep. 8, “Halfway to a Donut”

Scene: Carrie won’t allow Saul to kill himself.

Would you betray your best friend in order to save his life? That’s the gut-wrenching decision Carrie makes during this riveting mission-room sequence. Despite his pleading, she remotely guides Saul right back into the hands of his Taliban captors to be used as a political pawn rather than allow him to take his own life. — James Hibberd

10. Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (HBO)

Season 1, 2014

Scene: All of his impassioned rants

TV shows generally try not to irk the Federal Communications Commission, but that’s part of what makes Last Week Tonight so exciting: Oliver doesn’t care. That certainly seemed to be the case when he spent 13 (13!) minutes passionately, intelligently, meticulously explaining why the issue of Net neutrality shouldn’t be boring to you. — Rahman

11. Game of Thrones (HBO)

Ep. 8, “Hardhome”

Scene: Tyrion and Daenerys meet.

It was a moment Game of Thrones fans had waited years to see: show favorites Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) and Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), together in a room for the first time. Viewers swooned at the tense five-minute scene as the two brilliant outcasts, one cynical and one idealistic (“two terrible children of two terrible fathers,” as Tyrion puts it), deftly interact as the Lannister fugitive persuades the queen in Meereen to join forces. — Hibberd

12. Broad City (Comedy Central)

Ep. 4, “Knockoffs”

Scene: Ilana and her mother buy fake handbags in Chinatown.

When Ilana and her mother, Bobbi, climb down a manhole into a fantastical netherworld where they can speak Chinese to buy counterfeit handbags, it’s the perfect satire of New York City. “Chinatown is such a unique part of the city, and the selling of knock-off bags down there is so wild,” Abbi Jacobson tells EW of writing it. — Maerz

13. Empire (Fox)

Ep. 6, “Out, Damned Spot”

Scene: Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) reveals she’s wearing lingerie under her coat during a family dinner.

Henson’s ex-wife of mogul Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard) is arguably the breakout TV character of the year, with her perfect combination of fierce ambition and brazen outrageousness. Plus: Showing her rear (and smacking it!) was totally unscripted. — Tim Stack

14. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)

Ep. 6, “Kimmy Goes to School!”

Scene: Titus (Tituss Burgess) makes a music video.

Binges come and go, but unforgettable characters—and their viral songs—are forever, which is why we’re so enamored with wannabe diva Titus Andromedon’s impeccable performance of “Peeno Noir.” — Snetiker

15. Saturday Night Live (NBC)

Ep. 10

Scene: The “Serial” spoof

SNL hit the zeitgeist at precisely the right moment with the Christmastime parody of Serial, the podcast that entranced the nation. Cecily Strong’s impression of host Sarah Koenig was flawless, as was Aidy Bryant’s genius interpretation of lawyer Cristina Gutierrez. — Snetiker

16. Orange Is the New Black (Netflix)

Ep. 12, “It Was the Change”

Scene: Red tries to kill Vee.

As Yvonne “Vee” Parker, Lorraine Toussaint may have been a villain, but her relationship with Red was the better story line. When Red tried to off Vee with plastic wrap, the fight that ensued was both comical and incredibly tense. Still, Toussaint says her character wasn’t evil. “I have a different perspective on this ­person,” she tells EW. “Hopefully I ­created a well-rounded human being.” — Kevin P. Sullivan

17. Scandal (ABC)

Ep. 14, “The Lawn Chair”

Scene: Olivia Pope gets a confession out of a racist cop.

Leave it to Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) to give America the sort of confession they’d been craving amid a year of racial strife. When Pope is faced with her very own Ferguson case—a white policeman shoots an unarmed African-American kid—she confronts the guilty cop herself. — Samantha Highfill

18. Parks and Recreation (NBC)

Ep. 9, “Pie-Mary”

Scene: Leslie Knope is the ultimate feminist.

In “Pie-Mary,” Leslie shined a fiery light on the absurdity of a traditional family-­values-versus-feminism debate that raged over whether she should participate in a candidates’ wives’ bake-off. After blasting the media for their treatment of female politicians (“ ‘Are you trying to have it all?’… It’s a stupid question. Stop asking it. ‘Do you miss your kids when you’re at work?’ Of course I do…and then, you know, sometimes I don’t.”) — Snierson

19. Better Call Saul (AMC)

Ep. 6, “Five-O”

Scene: Mike has a breakdown.

Mike ­Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) actually gets emotional? This episode showcases the weary, cold-blooded fixer spilling truths to his daughter-in-law about how he murdered the cops who killed his son — and how he’s haunted by the guilt of corrupting his own blood. — Snierson

20. Bob’s Burgers (Fox)

Ep. 1, “Work Hard or Die Trying, Girl”

Scene: The absurdly silly school musical

Fox’s endearing animated comedy shines when it explores its musical roots. In last season’s simple and

silly premiere, two conflicting school ­productions based on ‘80s movies ­culminate in Gene Belcher’s masterpiece, Work Hard or Die Trying, Girl. — Snetiker

An edited version of this article ran in Entertainment Weekly issue #1369, on newsstands Friday, June 19.

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