The rap on awards shows is that art is relative—to quantify one's performance as being objectively "better" than another's is a fool's errand. But there is value to ranking and scoring such things. Even at their worst, awards shows affirm a level of quality and expectation, that "this" is what the culture values and seeks to emulate. At their best, awards shows shine a spotlight on the underrepresented and underappreciated, those who may have otherwise been overlooked. Whether we like it or not, awards lend credibility, and the Primetime Emmy Awards, given out each year to honor the best in primetime television, are some of the most prestigious.

The 70th Primetime Emmy Awards, which airs live on NBC on September 17 at 8:00 p.m. ET, come at an interesting moment in entertainment. Many critically acclaimed TV shows air on streaming services like Netflix or Amazon, and are displayed on iPads instead of television screens. Content is increasingly on-demand; we watch what we want to at our convenience, rather than adjusting to a network's time slot.

And although we don't get the shared cultural moments we once had (can you imagine our entire country watching a single series finale today?), we do get shows that are increasingly niche, eccentric, and personal. We live in an age of prestige television, and the acting performances go hand-in-hand.

The following is a list of actors and actresses nominated for Emmys at this year's awards ceremony, who have never won before. For some of them, a win could be the breakout moment of a blossoming career. For others, a win would be a crowning moment of validation after years of being passed over. Here are the hopefuls, in alphabetical order.