An air of "been there, awarded that" might surround Tina Fey's NBC comedy – it's won three times, after all. But it went out on a high note creatively. And, considering this is Emmy's last chance to give it a back slap, it can't – or shouldn't – be counted out. So its nomination is the safest of bets.
The same way that Netflix’s House of Cards is shaking up the drama race, the subscriber service's resurrected Fox favorite was initially poised to set the comedy derby on its ear. (HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm is ineligible to be nominated this year, so there's even an open slot.) But early reviews have been lukewarm at best, suggesting a best comedy nod is no longer a foregone conclusion.
THE BIG BANG THEORY (Comedy Series)
If the CBS smash was only TV's top-rated comedy or if it was only firing on all cylinders creatively, it would stand a good chance of taking the Emmy away from Modern Family. But its numbers are through the roof and it's as funny (and touching) as ever, which means the two-time contender actually stands a great chance of coming out on top.
If the Greendale gang couldn’t get Emmy voters to notice them when the show was firing on all cylinders creatively (see: Seasons 1-3), it certainly isn’t going to get their attention coming off a season marred by uneven writing and numerous backstage controversies.
ENLIGHTENED (Comedy Series)
You could argue that this show belongs on our list of long shots, not in this list. But the HBO underperformer had a huge fan base among Hollywood types – exactly the sort who are Emmy voters. Also, is anything better than a nomination to say, "We're sorry you got cancelled!"?
After its much-debated freshman season, Lena Dunham's HBO series came close to claiming the comedy Emmy from Modern Family. Now, coming off a pair of Golden Globe wins and a second season that was just as controversial as the first, the show seems even better positioned to pull off an upset.
Emmy-wise, the Fox musical has sung its swan song: After being nominated in 2010 and 2011, the series didn't make the cut last year (and didn't earn a Golden Globe nod this year, either). While the series has found new creative ground by moving some of its best-known characters to New York, Emmy voters seem to have also moved on.
HAPPY ENDINGS (Comedy Series)
With the cancelled ABC comedy on the prowl for a new home on cable, the timing of an Emmy nod would be beyond amahzing. The odds of an Emmy nod, however, are the opposite of amahzing.
HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER
Solid as the CBS sleeper might be, the field is too crowded for it to break back into the race. (It was only nominated once, in 2009.) Even Mr. Popularity, Neil Patrick Harris, hasn't been given a nom since 2010.
LOUIE (Comedy Series)
In the wake of Louis C.K.'s writing win last year – and his nominations for lead actor and director – his FX series stands a fair chance of getting a long overdue first best series nomination. If not, it will have to wait two years for another shot because, like Curb's Larry David, Louis C.K. is taking extra time between seasons.
The underappreciated comedy landed its first major industry accolade last month when it snagged a best comedy nomination from the Broadcast Critics Journalist Association. Sadly, Emmy is unlikely to follow in the group’s footsteps.
THE MINDY PROJECT
It's probably too early for Fox's freshman romcom to see any love from Emmy. Its creator, Mindy Kaling, however, is familiar enough – and sharp enough – that she could end up with a lead actress nod. (She was nominated five times as an Office producer and once as a writer.)
Though the ABC comedy's numbers aren't quite as strong as they once were – and buzz about the show has quieted to a faint murmur – it's still a lock for a fourth consecutive nod. A fourth win, on the other hand, isn’t a sure thing – especially with The Big Bang Theory enjoying one of its most successful (in every way) seasons, Emmy darling 30 Rock taking a victory lap and Girls being on such a roll.
NEW GIRL (Comedy Series)
Having lost none of their sparkle in this Fox romcom's second season, the show could grab that open Curb Your Enthusiasm slot and slip a New face into the comedy race.
Pass the painkillers, because Edie Falco's Showtime series has no shot at a nomination. (In fact, looking at its chart, it hasn't been in the running since 2010.)
The long-running workplace comedy hasn't received a single nomination since Steve Carell's 2011 exit, so it would be an understatement to call the show a dark-horse candidate for a series nom. But working in its favor is the fact that this is the series' final season: If Emmy is ever again going to recognize its 2006 comedy winner, it's now or never.
PARKS AND RECREATION (Comedy Series)
In spite of (continued!) glowing reviews, Amy Poehler's small-town political comedy will have to pull off an upset to get back into the comedy series race. (It's only received a nom once, in 2011.)
Given the mixed critical response to Julia Louis-Dreyfus' HBO comedy, it was a surprise that the show landed a nomination in 2012. It is questionable whether Veep will be able to pull that off again.