Emmy nominations will be announced on Thursday, which means you have less than two days to finalize your predictions. With a lot of the old guard gone (bye, Mad Men) or ineligible (see you whenever, Louie), there's lots of room for a shake-up this year, especially with two super-hot, critically acclaimed new shows in the running. Here are seven things to keep an eye out for on Thursday.
1. Will Mr. Robot be USA's biggest Emmy magnet since Monk?
Remember Monk? It amassed 18 nominations and eight wins during its run, three of which were for star Tony Shalhoub. Since Monk last joined the contest in 2010 (a year in which USA also got a nod for Burn Notice's Sharon Gless), USA has only received a handful of nods (and a win) for Political Animals, which vied in the miniseries races in 2013 after it was canceled. Mr. Robot has the buzz and acclaim to really make a dent — and give USA its first ever series nod in either comedy or drama. It's the feather in the cap USA is looking for after rebranding its "blue skies" approach with literally and figuratively darker fare. There is one guaranteed open slot for the taking in the drama series race with Mad Men gone.
2. Will UnREAL put Lifetime on the scripted series map?
Lifetime is no stranger to the Emmys — it's received numerous nominations for its TV movies (Grace of Monaco, #neverforget) and Project Runway, including one win for Runway hosts Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn. But it's never fielded a deserving series contender until now. UnREAL, our best show of the year so far, is a scintillating, achingly smart series, and the only question is if voters will recognize it — and stars Shiri Appleby and Constance Zimmer — as such, or if they'll hold Lifetime's reputation for campy TV movies against it? It sure helps that the show's second season started airing during the voting period (its first season is eligible this cycle).
3. Will The CW break through?
One day, we'll stop asking this. The Emmys has a legendary bias against The CW. No show or performer from the network formerly known as the WB has even received a major Emmy nomination. For the second year in a row, a CW starlet, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend's Rachel Bloom, won a Golden Globe, but that guarantees nothing at the Emmys, which is much less friendly to newbies, let alone The CW, than the Globes are. The good news for Bloom and Jane the Virgin's Gina Rodriguez is that there are three open slots in comedy lead actress, since Edie Falco, Lisa Kudrow and Amy Poehler are out.
4. Will The Americans break through?
Again, we ask this every year, but this is the spy drama's best chance yet to reap the multiple top nods it deserves after its best season so far. The show has received a shameful five nominations over three years — three of which were for Margo Martindale, including a guest actress win, so you can probably pencil her in for another nod. However, The Americans cracked the writing category last year, so we can only hope that it will continue to move up into the big categories.
5. Who will get farewell nods?
This is the last time Downton Abbey and The Good Wife will contest at the Emmys. Downton's been a staple drama series nominee, but will sentiment spur an increase in nods, namely for Maggie Smith and Michelle Dockery, both of whom were snubbed last year? As for The Good Wife -- the last broadcast show to earn a drama series nod, which it received in 2011 — it'll have a tough time making it back into the crowded top race (plus, it'd be a shame if it got a series nod for its unremarkable Season 7 instead of its superb Season 5). But don't be surprised if the drama's two-time-winning leading lady Julianna Margulies, who was dropped last year, squeezes back in. She was snubbed three years ago only to return and win the following year.
6. Can broadcast shows maintain a presence in comedy series?
Unlike drama series, the comedy series race has yet to be broadcast show-less, mostly thanks in recent years to five-time champ Modern Family. The Big Bang Theory was snubbed last year after four nods, but Parks and Recreation made it back in for its final season to give broadcast shows two of the seven slots. Modern Family could very well be the sole broadcast nominee if voters take a shine to new streaming series like Master of None or Catastrophe, or even bring back Girls, which had a great fifth season. The non-ModFam broadcast shows that stand the best shot of making the cut are Big Bang and Black-ish, which had a stellar second season. Star Anthony Anderson, who was nominated last year, is announcing the nominations. A sign of good things to come?
7. Will Beyonce be one step closer to an EGOT?
Lemonade was submitted in variety special. Bey has two nods under her belt, for her 2013 Super Bowl halftime show and her On the Run Tour concert special with Jay Z last year.
Emmy nominations will be announced Thursday at 11:30 a.m. ET / 8:30 a.m. PT. The ceremony airs Sunday, Sept. 18 at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT on ABC.