Breaking Bad actress Anna Gunn, who plays Skyler White, recently wrote an editorial about the vitriol hatred that online fans have for her character. While I think she hits on a few great points, I believe she may be missing the actual reason fans dislike her character.
We all know that if you look deep into the bowels of the internet where comments lie, you’ll find crazies all over the web and they’re not just hating on Skyler White.
We also know it’s a very small minority that truly believe what someone is willing to say anonymously behind a bright computer screen in a dark room.
First, I’ll confess that I do watch the show and I don’t like her character (well until the last episode, now I hate Jesse), but it’s not because she wouldn’t stand by Walt’s side anymore or be a “good wife and be quiet,” it’s because she gets in the way of Walt’s character arc.
If she had stuck to her guns and not accepted money and took the kids after she found out about Walt’s new job, then she could have something to stand on, but she didn’t. She lost a lot of credibility when she didn’t leave. And the writers most likely wanted it this way.
Walt wasn’t going to hurt her and she knows he wouldn’t hurt the kids, so that’s the writer’s fault, not ours. She has little reason to complain anymore, because she’s accepted to live that life. Even though it’s been forced upon her, we all have the choice to leave a situation, no matter how crazy it may be. This is how the show’s writers wish her to be perceived.
I believe the biggest reason fans dislike her character is because she slows down the arc of Walt’s character. We want him out cooking meth with Jesse in some crazy situation; making deals, killing people – it’s terrible but it’s what has made the show so thrilling to watch.
When Skyler strikes up an argument with Walt, the show stops dead in its tracks and nothing is accomplished because we know she’s never going to leave him.
Anna mentioned this in her editorial and she’s right, it is similar to The Sopranos, where we were invested in Tony Soprano’s character arc so much that being derailed by a tirade from his wife was just a way to elongate the episode and aggravate the fans.
Although, I don’t remember “hating” Carmela as much as I’ve found myself disliking Skyler. That may be because Carmela was arguably a better written character and we had a lot more time with Carmela during the good times than we ever had with Skyler. It should also be noted that The Sopranos started airing in 1999, way before comment trolls were around.
From day one it’s been a rough ride for Skyler because of Walt’s cancer diagnosis and then his jump into the meth world. She just goes from being a great and loving partner of our protagonist, to then flipping out and bitching constantly – it’s understandable that this may get on fans’ nerves.
I definitely don’t hate her as an actress, and I can’t imagine even 1% of the people saying they “hate her” online – actually hate her. She’s lovely in interviews, and my hatred for Skyler never approached hating the actress, ever.
I’m certainly not the type who expects women to just sit and be “a quiet, good wife.” I want my wife to be strong, intelligent, and willing to challenge the way I look at life. But we aren’t exactly dealing with normal circumstances in Breaking Bad either.
The fact is she has been put in a show where we’re rooting for a very, very bad person – despite the terrible things he does. But that’s the whole point of the show, the creators want us to love Walt and hate him all within one episode.
And what it boils down to is Skyler gets in the way of what the person we’re rooting for is attempting to accomplish and I truly believe it’s as simple as that. There’s no doubt a very minute minority that truly hate her for the “good wife” issue, but that’s clearly secondary to the hate she receives due to her attempts at keeping Walt from seeing his goals realized.
But I’m a glass half full kind of guy, and maybe I’m the minority, and these fans of the show who spew hatred for Skyler White are actually misogynistic, wife-beating monsters in real life.
Though, let’s look at some proof that it’s not just about her role as the “nagging wife” that causes all the hate.
Recently, when fans were vehemently angry with Jesse and his inability to get over his problems so that Walt can be in the clear, social networks were flooded with comments about Jesse needing to “get over it.” Hatred has seemingly swayed to Jesse in the last few episodes.
Again, it comes back to us caring about Walt getting away with it all, and whoever gets in his way, we’re simply going to dislike. And that’s the same reason people don’t like Skyler, she causes Walt problems and gets in the way of his success (or at least she did).
Now that she’s on Walt’s side again (as far as we know), she’s much more appealing. But let’s not forget, she’s told Walt that she’s waiting for the cancer to kill him, and she’s cheated on him as well – so there are some valid reasons for anyone not to like her character.
I truly believe though, that Anna Gunn has done such a great job with the character that it’s not a “Rorschach test for society,” but a great actor portraying a great character on one of the best TV shows of all time.
Let’s not allow internet trolls to tarnish the Breaking Bad community as we head to the series finale, and as a fellow journalist once told me: Don’t Read Comments!
Breaking Bad season 5, episode 11 ”Confessions” airs tonight, August 25 at 9 p.m. eastern.
Update: This author was contacted after publishing this article to be interviewed by The Huffington Post concerning Breaking Bad fans’ hate for Skyler White.
Watch the HuffPost Live interview, “No Love For Skyler White.”