'Breaking Bad's' Anna Gunn Writes New York Times Op-Ed, Discusses Fans' Hatred for Skyler

With 'Breaking Bad' winding down with six episodes left I tune in every Sunday night not knowing what to expect. However, there is one exception: I know I'll hate Skyler White for whatever she does. Apparently, I am in the majority.

Anna Gunn has a problem ... better call Saul? The actress playing Skyler, has written a column in the New York Times detailing the hatred for Walter White's wife.

Walter's transformation from family man/caner patient to the wild and violent Heisenberg has gripped fans from the beginning. In the later seasons Skyler becomes part of his opposition and due to this position she becomes reviled.

Gunn understands where the hatred for her character stems and to a certain point expected negative feelings for Skylar. Gunn writes, "because Walter is the show’s protagonist, there is a natural tendency to empathize with and root for him, despite his moral failings. (That viewers can identify with this antihero is also a testament to how deftly his character is written and acted.) As the one character who consistently opposes Walter and calls him on his lies, Skyler is, in a sense, his antagonist. So from the beginning, I was aware that she might not be the show’s most popular character."

Unfortunately for Gunn, who should be given credit in creating such animosity for her character, viewers' distaste for Skyler doesn't end with every episode. The spillage has accumulated on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Tens of thousands have liked a Facebook page with a title that couldn't be printed on the New York Times site.

The piece is worth a read and highlights how embedded TV shows have become into the lives of the viewers.

Credit should also be given to the show's creator, Vince Gilligan. 'Breaking Bad' is one of the best shows on TV by creating a cast of characters to root for, against, and with. It is important to note Gunn's point on gender roles: Walter has had adversaries during every phase of his transformation - Tuco, Gus Fring, and Hank, but Skyler is the only female and she generates the most vitriol.

I still hate Skyler White, but only for an hour a week.

Comments 2
Rob Cote's picture

"Strong, nonsubmissive, ill-treated women..." Is this a joke? Ill-treated, yes. Absolutely. Strong, non-submissive? What is more submissive than actively assisting a drug emperor (for lack of a better title for Heisenberg), despite professing to hate everything he does? What is less strong than keeping your two children in the same house as a regular target for assassination?

Her brother-in-law is a ranking officer in the DEA. Her safety and security is handed to her on a silver platter, should she choose to take it. What does she do? She capitulates. She rolls over and puts herself and her children in danger. That is not strength. That is cowardice of the highest order.

I don't hate Skyler White. I pity her. It’s entirely possible, even likely, that this is how many people would react when in a position of being abused, but we should suffer no illusions about the notion of strength. Doing what’s easy is not strength. Saving your children from a life near a monster like Walter White, no matter how difficult it may be, is.

George Prax's picture

She does it because of her own greed and ambition. Her face lit up when Walt told her that they should open a second car wash. I wouldn't call it submissive, I would say that she's exactly like Walt or probably worse, because she enforces a "see no evil" type of policy in helping him launder the money but wanting nothing to do with how she got it. I don't think there's a single person who isn't willing to admit that Walter White is a despicable person, but it's the fact that the show professes moral ambiguity when it comes to Skyler that forces people to dislike her.

Naturally, it should end when the end credits begin rolling, and for the record Anna Gunn plays it brilliantly and should win the Emmy next month as well as next year, but I don't understand why I should be chastised for disliking a character that's clearly meant to be disliked on a television show. Gunn should embrace that aspect of her character, not try and justify it.