Emmy Awards nominations: Top 5 potential surprises – ‘Modern Family’ cast out, ‘The Good Wife’ in …

While I always do my best to be accurate in my predictions, I have to admit that part of the fun of the Emmys lies in the unexpected surprises — be they those out-of-left-field nominees that were on nobody’s radar or the stunning omissions that leave our collective jaws agape.

Looking at last year, who would have thought that perennial nominees like Jim Parsons (“The Big Bang Theory”), Kerry Washington (“Scandal”) and Maggie Smith (“Downton Abbey”) would be snubbed in favor of Will Forte (“The Last Man on Earth”), Tatiana Maslany (“Orphan Black”)  and Joanne Froggatt (“Downton Abbey”)? Did anyone think that “The Big Bang Theory,” television’s highest rated comedy would be left off the Comedy Series list? Who predicted a nomination for Niecy Nash (“Getting On”) last year for a show that few people had even heard of?

These sorts of surprises are part of the fun of any awards show, and the Emmys are always a consistent source of unpredictability. So when the nominees are announced on Thursday, you can bet that there will be some shockers, surprising inclusions and startling snubs. Here are some unlikely scenarios that would be sure to catch the television community off-guard.

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Modern Family” receiving no acting nominations
The cast has been a mainstay in the supporting categories since the show’s freshmen season, with Eric Stonestreet, Ty Burell, and Julie Bowen each winning two statues. But their nomination numbers have dwindled in recent seasons, with only Bowen and Burrell earning bids last year. Could this be the first year without at least one of the cast in contention? While unlikely, it’s not out of the question.

The Good Wife” returning to Drama Series
“The Good Wife” cast has claimed five Emmys and 28 nominations over the course of its first six years. But the show has only received two nominations in the Drama Series category, most recently in 2011. Could it make a comeback for its critically-acclaimed final season? Perhaps, but the Emmys rarely nominate a series in the top category once it has been dropped off. With so much time between its last drama series nomination and now, the question will be whether Emmy voters have moved on.

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“The Big Bang Theory” returning to Comedy Series
After four consecutive nominations in this category, television’s top-rated comedy was curiously absent from this category last year. The show also failed to receive bids from the Critic’s Choice, TCA, and Producer’s Guild awards. However, with both “Parks and Recreation” and “Louie” out of the running, there are two open slots in the category. Season nine of “The Big Bang Theory” was one of its highest-rated, thanks mainly to its storyline involving Sheldon and Amy finally consummating their relationship. However, as with “The Good Wife,” it is difficult for a show to stage a comeback in a top category.

Streaming shows dominating the Comedy Series category
Similar to when cable shows began outperforming the broadcast networks in terms of nominations, this could be the year when more streaming shows receive series nominations than network OR cable shows. “Transparent” (Amazon) and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” (Netflix) are sure bets to return to the Comedy Series category, but other streaming shows have a legitimate shot at a series nomination:  Amazon’s “Catastrophe” and Golden Globe winner “Mozart in the Jungle,” Netflix’s “Master of None” and “Grace and Frankie,” and Hulu’s “Casual.”

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Starz getting nominations in the major categories
While Starz has racked up 30 nominations and five wins in the Creative Arts categories, the network has not yet made a showing in the acting and series categories. This could be the year that we see a change. The period piece “Outlander” could earn nominations for Drama Series and for leading lady Caitriona Balfe. And Patrick Stewart could reap a bid for his role as a self-destructive journalist on the laffer “Blunt Talk.”

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