Anna Gunn, you clever girl. While the Breaking Bad star's editorial about her polarizing character and the subsequent "Skyler White effect" on television needed to be written, why did it take Gunn this long to get around to it? By Season 3, Skyler White had become a resilient foil to Walter White's anti-hero. The series had become a cult hit, beloved by critics and fans alike. By 2010, Bryan Cranston had won three Emmys and Gunn was cultivating an unwanted army of, for lack of a better term, haters. Why is this the first we're hearing from her about her, as she puts it, "Character Issue"? Two words: Emmy, baby.
Now, this could get ugly rather quickly, so let me clarify this: Gunn most certainly released her editorial exactly one week before the ballot deadline for the Primetime Emmys. She knew that both the timing and the placement in The New York Times would give her words the weight and prominence they deserved, leading them to be picked up by just about every other outlet there is.
She knew exactly what she was doing, and for that, I applaud her. She's campaigning, but she's doing it in a way that not only makes her easy to root for, it serves an important educational purpose and helps open the discussion about why characters like Skyler are so unfairly reviled. And because Gunn's so clever, she just might get the respect she needs and the Emmy win that she definitely deserves.
Let's look at this way: Emmy judges are creatures of habit. Their votes consistently display an "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" pattern that rewards the same series and stars over and over (don't pretend you're not tired of hearing the words "and the Emmy goes to Modern Family"). Reigning Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama champ Maggie Smith is a perfect example: she won for Downton Abbey (granted, in the Mini-Series category) in 2011 and again in 2012. The safe bet in Smith's and Gunn's category this year is of course the Dowager Countess herself. Had Gunn not come out of the gate at the right moment with her moving and smart editorial, I'd call the race right here.
The Emmy is not likely to go to the Mother of Dragons Emilia Clarke or (sadly) Christina Hendricks. The Good Wife's buzz has cooled and Homeland took a nose dive in Season 2, bringing into question the possibility of a Christine Baranski or Morena Baccarin win. That leaves Smith and Gunn, and only one of those women is challenging gender stereotypes in a widely syndicated editorial while delivering a stellar performance on the final season of one of television's greatest dramas ever.
I'm not guaranteeing that Gunn's smooth move will work, I'm just saying that if the two-time Emmy nominee is going to upset this sleepy, predictable awards show and give her character — a symbol of autonomy, strength, and resilience in the face of a husband whose decisions threaten to make her as an accessory and not a partner — and herself a shot in the dark in this race, this is the way to do it.