Why Does Everybody Hate Skyler?

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Anna Gunn:

I Have a Character Issue

PLAYING Skyler White on the television show “Breaking Bad” for the past five seasons has been one of the most rewarding creative journeys I’ve embarked on as an actor. But the role has also taken me on another kind of journey — one I never would have imagined.

My character, to judge from the popularity of Web sites and Facebook pages devoted to hating her, has become a flash point for many people’s feelings about strong, nonsubmissive, ill-treated women. As the hatred of Skyler blurred into loathing for me as a person, I saw glimpses of an anger that, at first, simply bewildered me.

For those unfamiliar with the show: Skyler is the wife of Walter White, a high-school chemistry teacher who, after learning he has lung cancer, begins cooking and selling methamphetamine to leave a nest egg for Skyler, their teenage son and their unborn daughter. After his prognosis improves, however, Walter continues in the drug trade — with considerable success — descending deeper and deeper into a life of crime.

When Skyler discovers what Walter has been up to, she tries to stop him, to no avail. She is outraged by the violence and destruction of the drug world, fearful for her children’s safety, disgusted by the money Walter brings in and undone by the lies and manipulation to which he subjects her.

[…]

I enjoy taking on complex, difficult characters and have always striven to capture the truth of those people, whether or not it’s popular. Vince Gilligan, the creator of “Breaking Bad,” wanted Skyler to be a woman with a backbone of steel who would stand up to whatever came her way, who wouldn’t just collapse in the corner or wring her hands in despair. He and the show’s writers made Skyler multilayered and, in her own way, morally compromised. But at the end of the day, she hasn’t been judged by the same set of standards as Walter.

As an actress, I realize that viewers are entitled to have whatever feelings they want about the characters they watch. But as a human being, I’m concerned that so many people react to Skyler with such venom. Could it be that they can’t stand a woman who won’t suffer silently or “stand by her man”? That they despise her because she won’t back down or give up? Or because she is, in fact, Walter’s equal?

[…]

But I finally realized that most people’s hatred of Skyler had little to do with me and a lot to do with their own perception of women and wives. Because Skyler didn’t conform to a comfortable ideal of the archetypical female, she had become a kind of Rorschach test for society, a measure of our attitudes toward gender.

I can’t say that I have enjoyed being the center of the storm of Skyler hate. But in the end, I’m glad that this discussion has happened, that it has taken place in public and that it has illuminated some of the dark and murky corners that we often ignore or pretend aren’t still there in our everyday lives.


Anna Gunn left out the part where Skyler tells Walt, “I fucked Ted” (her boss). And she did.

Face it, Skyler is not a likeable character from the beginning. When Walt discovers he has lung cancer he starts “breaking bad” to insure that Skyler and the kids will be provided for if/when he dies. He commits numerous murders but he is never unfaithful to his wife.

She snoops on everything he does. The throws him out. She calls the cops on him. She cheats on him. She gives all the illegal money he earns to her boss. Then she tells him she is waiting for him to die. He buys his son a car and she makes him take it back.

She rarely shows any warmth or affection for Walt, and none after the first couple seasons. So what’s to like?

Maybe her problem is genetic, cuz her sister Marie is even more annoying than she is.



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I was born and raised in a different country - America. I don't know what this place is.
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30 Responses to Why Does Everybody Hate Skyler?

  1. The Klown says:
  2. elliesmom says:

    If I was going to “have a fling” with one of the guys on “Breaking Bad”, it would be Saul. Sure he’s as corrupt as the rest of them, but he’s the only one with a sense of humor.

  3. swanspirit says:

    Wow , I think I like her , she may have cheated but she never murdered anyone .

    • My sentiments exactly. When I saw this line: “He commits numerous murders but he is never unfaithful to his wife.” I was, like, WTF? Since when did infidelity trump murder?

      I’m with Gunn; I don’t get the Skylar hate. I like her character very much, and I thought she was very loving toward Walt, until he proved what a criminal turd he was. His glorification of power is the most troubling thing about the show. He is power-hungry, and greedy. That is far worse in my book than anything Skylar has done, including sleep with her boss when it was clear she was double-crossed by her husband.

      • lyn says:

        I’ve watched only a handful of episodes, and Skylar hasn’t done anything that caused me to hate her.

      • darraghcmurphy says:

        Same here. She’s a much more compelling/real character than whiny, clueless, willfully ignorant Carmela Soprano. She didn’t start to wander to her old boyfriend until Walt had been horrible, withdrawn, and an asshole to her for a long time.

        Walt watching Jessie’s girlfriend die and not lifting a tiny finger to help her because she was more convenient to him dead? That’s not as bad as cheating on your prick husband?

        Oh and walt’s motivations for cooking and selling meth are far more complex and selfish than some noble desire to provide for his family. That’s part of it for the first few months, but the need to prove himself a genius and redeem his alpha persona after being screwed by his former business partners are far more the potent drivers of his warped psyche.

      • gxm17 says:

        I don’t get it. The Skyler White role is human and complex and it’s so nice to see such depth of a female character on the screen. But what I really don’t get is the Anna Gunn hate. It’s unbelievable to me that people would let their dislike of a character influence how they feel about an actor. I loathe the Governor with a passion, but the actor? No way. He’s an excellent actor, just as is Anna Gunn. I sure hope she’s received every award out there for this role. She certainly deserves it!

  4. 1539days says:

    I’m waiting for the next free weekend I have to start mainlining Breaking Bad. I’m actually watching the last episodes because, frankly, I know most of the spoilers anyway.

    I actually remember Anna Gunn from a show she did on Fox about 20 years ago called “Down the Shore.” She played a bitchy model who had the occasional moment of kindness. My take on Skyler is this.

    Breaking Bad is about a guy who was desperate for money and decided that cooking illegal drugs using proper laboratory processes would be a good career move. So, first it was a comedy about a bumbling drug dealer and his messed up family. Then, Walt became a “badass” kingpin. He’s the antihero of this show.

    The War on Drugs has taught us that criminals killing other criminals is nothing to get upset about. By the time Walt started killing more innocent people, the viewers came to sympathize with him and worship his cool resolve.

    This is why Skyler is a bitch. The viewers see “Breaking Bad” as a world where Walt is the one who knocks and is completely justified. Since Skyler doesn’t believe that, she shakes up that world view. She is predicting the end of Walt that the viewers don’t want but know will happen and they hate her for it.

    • votermom says:

      Interesting analysis. I haven’t watched BB but I’m always interested in how audiences react to characters, specially when they don’t react as the writers might expect.

  5. The Klown says:
    • DandyTIger says:

      Still remember Dems screaming Debt under GWB and Repubs saying it’s a non issue. So if we get a Repub president, I expect all of the sudden the debt will be the biggest problem ever according to Dems, and not a problem at all according to the Repubs.

  6. foxyladi14 says:

    WE sure hope so any way. 🙂

  7. Constance says:

    Young Americans are the new Indentured Servants thanks to student loan debt.

    http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2013/08/25/the-student-loan-bubble-is-creating-a-generation-o.aspx

  8. votermom says:

    AoSHQ Sunday book post has some cool stuff today
    http://ace.mu.nu/archives/342795.php

    In this month’s Imprimis newsletter from Hillsdale College, there’s an article by children’s book reviewer Meghan Cox Gurdon adapted by a speech she gave at the college back in March. She decries current trends in Young Adult (YA) fiction, which has become “increasingly lurid, grotesque, profane, sexual, and ugly.”

    Which I think is an interesting discussion. YA is a genre that sells now (thanks to Harry Potter) and publishers will shove market almost anything into this package. As long as the main character is teen-ish, it gets marketed as YA, so matter how disturbing.
    (My pet peeve of all mind-bleach YA is award-winning Margo Lanagan’s Tender Morsels. If that book should was a movie, it would be “NC-17”, instead it’s on the YA shelf.

    Also on the post are some hilarious fake excerpts of Christian Nation, the anti-Palin dystopia “novel.”

    • Jadzia says:

      While I share your concerns about the direction that YA has been heading recently, I think it’s great that the genre itself is finally commanding some respect. Back in the day (oooooold), it seemed as though the whole genre was seen as not much more than simpering romance-type throwaway novels (Sweet Valley High and the like), even though there were some really great YA classics like The Outsiders and The Grounding of Group 6 that took teenagers and their lives/issues/voices seriously and should have been as interesting to adults as they were to adolescents.

      • 1539days says:

        I remember back when Judy Blume was down right indecent.

      • votermom says:

        I am happy that YAs no longer have to be a maximum of 200 pages, and that there is so much of it.
        I hate that it seems like many of the ones that get awards, and therefore stand out on library shelves and even get into summer reading lists, are the type described by Gurdon – lurid, explicit, deviant yet purporting to be “problem” books and there fore worthy.
        It’s like the observation that “there is no such thing as an anti-war film”, books that are explicit in describing deviancy and victimization inevitable create a glamour & excitement about it, imo.

  9. foxyladi14 says:

    Sad very sad. 😦

  10. votermom says:

    I watched Night Watch (2004 Russian movie) on netflix.
    It has an interesting quote on why people would choose the Dark (evil):
    “…it is easier to kill the Light within oneself, than to scatter the Darkness around you… “

  11. votermom says:

    lol

    • leslie says:

      What a thought… I just called my local cable-internet-phone monopoly provider to ask them where my 800+ sent email had disappeared to. (I’m able to access only 5.) I should have just asked them to contact the NSA. What Was I (not) Thinking??

      {{headdesk}}

  12. BuffyVampireSlayer says:

    I really hate you people. I’m having ajuice box and nap now

  13. elliesmom says:

    Skyler may not have killed anyone-yet, but she knows Walt has, and she’s keeping her mouth shut. She may not approve of how Walt made the money, but she wants to keep it now that she has it. She’s as “bad” as he is.

    • 1539days says:

      I don’t like that male vs. female argument by Gunn. Look at the show Weeds. The drug dealer is a woman and her character is popular. Shows are written so that the audience identifies with the protagonist regardless of gender.

  14. DeniseVB says:

    Do not click on this link, spoiler from sweeping up floors from my downstairs post, Howard Wolowitz’s mother, or the actress behind the voice that is 🙂

    http://www.sheldonsquote.com/video-carol-ann-susi-aka-howards-mother-465/

  15. votermom says:

    My kids & I just watched It Happened One Night (Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert) and absolutely loved it. What a great movie.
    I never knew that Gable inspired Bugs Bunny’s carrot munching btw.

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