Open Forum Friday: Why Do Breaking Bad Fans Hate Skyler White?

Skyler White in Breaking Bad

I think it’s fair to say that with the final episodes of Breaking Bad currently airing on AMC, there is a lot more criticism and discussion surrounding this TV show than any of the movies that are playing in theatres right now. Last weekend, actress Anna Gunn sparked a new debate herself with an op-ed that she penned for the New York Times entitled, “I Have a Character Issue.” In the piece, she expressed concerns over the fact that so many of the show’s fans seem to despise her character and have even started to transfer some of their hatred to her personally. It’s true, this does seem to be a common sentiment among fans and some have taken it to extremes. The question is, where is all this hatred coming from?

Clearly part of the problem is that the show is set up to make you identify with Walter White as a protagonist, even though he is doing some pretty questionable things. Skyler, his wife, is in direct conflict with his secret life of crime, the “cool” side of Walt that viewers love. Anna Gunn, however, speculates that this has more to do with the fact that people “can’t stand a woman who won’t suffer silently” or one that could be considered Walt’s equal. I don’t know if it really goes that deep… I really think it’s more a case of viewers being unable to see Walt as a villain. What do you think? Are men unable to accept women who challenge the usual gender roles in TV shows and movies? Should Skyler White haters be labelled misogynists or is Skyler White just a poorly written, uninteresting character? Give us your thoughts here on Open Forum Friday.

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  • Felix

    I don’t hate her but I do find her quite stressful and at times annoying. Same goes for Marie. I wouldn’t say, the female characters are poorly written, but I think that the men in Breaking Bad have much more diverse scenes and are simply just more fun. You can laugh about Jesse’s and Walt’s goofiness. Saul, Hank and Mike get to say awesome one-liners and everything with Gus is great. The women are just serious all the time and it almost feels like they’re used by the writers to root everything in reality and add some morality.

  • Deven Science

    Felix stated it pretty well. The female characters just seem to bring the mood down in every scene. This is more from the writing than the actresses playing them. I don’t hate the character of Skyler, but I find her to be generally “in the way,” and I feel that episodes that are Skyler heavy aren’t as great.

  • but me, i’m just a horse

    Dislike, yes. She’s confused most time; reacting, but lacking the courage to act independently; weak – clearly portrayed as such by having a risky affair. Just compare her to the smart and unpredictable sister.
    The thing is Skyler does suffer as a “christian wife”, under his control – the affair only helped him more; a few twitches here and there don’t make her worthy.. besides, she likes the money, clearly. Dirty morals, dirty deeds.
    (also, bad actrice)

  • wikipuppy

    The reason I disliked her is actually a testament to the show’s greatest achievement, and that is that we the audience rationalize for Walt. He’s turning completely evil but when Skyler tried to force him out of the house we were like “what a bitch!”

    Most of the time she’s backed into a corner but acting as rationale as possible. I got away from the show for like a year and then started on season 5 and was shocked to think that I thought she was being a bitch to Walt for no good reason.

  • Henry

    Bit of a tricky one to express in words without appearing a pig, but compared especially to Hank and Walt, it has been harder for the producers to maintain the consistency of Skyler’s appearance across seasons. Given the series is meant to pretty much run with no time gap in between, these changes have been distracting at best (In fact Jesse has the same problem, especially in this last season ) Also to some people she is essentially the villain of the piece, and not the strongest actor in the series. I can understand some of the moans, but obviously what the actor has undergone is crazy.

  • juggs

    her role is marginal. she gives a serviceable peformance. the plot points featuring her were boring. ted and her being pregnant specifically.

  • ProCynic

    Why the hatred? Brilliant acting, casting and writing.

  • Gerry

    I had no idea she was hated.

    The problem for me is her seemingly inexplicable shift from ‘Walts actions are abhorrent and I’d rather drown myself than live with where I am’ to ‘we’ve gotta keep Walt from being convicted’.

    I put this down to illogical writing for the sake of drama, i.e. WTF, writers of Breaking Bad!

    I never thought I’d hear myself say this but BB so far this series is underwhelming for me, after such high quality writing in the first half of series 5.

  • filmfan5

    cause she’s a women

  • Karnidge
  • Awal

    Walt has cancer. He is an ordinary Samaritan. Goes bad to help fam before he dies. Nd his wife fucks someone else. I wuld murder her

  • Spongebob Squarepants

    She’s is hated cuz most of us men were mad when she threw Walt out for having 2 phones. Which when you detach yourself from the show and think about it. Any rational husband or wife would do the same.

  • Daniel

    Ordinary Samaritans don’t cook meth.

    idiot.

  • James

    It was originally a means to an end.

  • Keltari

    The show’s female characters are extraneous. You could remove them from the show with very minor rewrites and no one would think twice.

  • Tyurak

    What can one do in her situation. Re-watch episode 4 of season 5, specifically the conversation between her and Walt about the kids getting away. What can she do, really. She knows what he really is, a murderer. For whatever reason he has what affects her the most is that fact that Walt is shrugging it off. The murders, the drugs, the money. Walt is not a good guy or even a protagonist. His character is on the light side of evil.

  • Gerry

    Walt is definitely evil despite doing things for what he percieved to be good reasons early on.

    Based on his actions and lack of remorse he seems to be psychopathic with added mental health issues.

    But Cranston’s charismatic and comic persona combined with good writing does blur the lines. Walts rationalisation of the plane crash (which to me symbolised the victims of his drugs) in front of the school assembly was hilarious.

    For me Walter White and Gus Fring are two of the greatest ‘baddies’ ever on TV.

    Dexter is another show which blurs the lines between insane murderer and ‘hero’ but it does present arguments re Dexters insanity more often.

    I can see how Dexter’s female characters could come across as stronger than in BB but to me Marie is a strong character and Skylar is a normal woman / person struggling womanfully with realising that she’s married to a monster (apart from her pro Walt attitude recently which makes no sense to me).

    Maybe the interweb (all male I’m guessing) mob members who hate Skylar have never had relationships, of any kind, with women in their nerdy geeky lives. I fcuking hate those members of the interweb mob.

  • Grifter Six

    Walter is definitely a criminal…but evil? No. The fact is Walter generally tries to steer clear of issues and violence but he has chosen a path that brings direct conflict. Perhaps in today’s timid world people would prefer to demonize Walter but the OP hits the mark when he says fans have a hard time villianizing Walter in-spite of his misdeeds. Why is this? I believe it is because for the majority of the show Walt’s action are driven by the need to protect and provide for his family. For a brief while he falters to greed but the return of the cancer refocuses him and reminds him WHY he began down this path. Walter is generally fighting for survival and for the future of his family . When death is already certain other morality fades a bit. How many times have we heard someone say ” Id sell my soul for…” or ” I’d do anything if…”? That is where Walter is generally at.

    Skylar catches flack not because she wont suffer silently but because she does not appreciate Walters position and the risks he takes in the hopes of leaving her and the kids in a secure life. Normally one would point to life insurance but after a diagnosis coverage would be unlikely. To use some urbanisms, Skylar simply is not “down to ride”. Walt is doing everything he can for her and the kids and she treats him like a pariah. When she loses the upper hand in the situation she is forced to simply take it. In the last few episodes Skylar has began to act like they’re in the same boat. About damn time.

  • Daniel Jesse Spade

    Well. I did not realize fans of the show disliked her character. I was even telling a friend recently that I though that Anna Gunn was not only a tremendously competent actress, but also a classically beautiful woman.

    Then I read this: “Anna Gunn, however, speculates that this has more to do with the fact that people “can’t stand a woman who won’t suffer silently” or one that could be considered Walt’s equal.”

    I have lost any and all respect for this whining, moaning, “men are always blah blah blah” twat. I will not finish the show now, because this thing that looks like a lady but is really just another one of “those things”.

    Bitch needs to sit at home with her cats and count her money.

  • DieSky

    I think Anna has ‘delusions of grandeur’ in speculating about Skylar White. In what Bizarro world could Skylar even come close to Walt’s equal?!?! She is just a bitchy, nagging, amoral, and spiteful adultress. Walt is a way better person than Sky.

  • BB Rules

    There is good reason to dislike Skylar. Go back to Season 3. Walt went through hell and put everything on the line to make money to provide for him family after his death. Then, when he achieved his goal he quite making meth. Then he lost the sole reason he started making meth in the first place, his family, because Skylar left him and shut him out. He went back to meth because of Skylar. That’s enough reason to not like her.

  • John Loo

    I’m at Season 3 right now. I’ve noticed a bit of an anti-marriage theme so far in the series. It mainly has to do with the wives loving and caring but not understanding their husbands. I know nobody is forcing Hank to go to El Paso, but he is pressured to do so because Marie wants him to go to DC, and Hank explains that in order to get to DC, he has to go to El Paso. But of course, it’s not that simple because Hank is also a very prideful man and… he’s more cowardly than he thinks. But Marie, who almost has everything already, why does she have to have a habit of stealing stuff? It’s unnecessary pressure on Hank.

    Then there’s Walt & Skyler. At the beginning of the series, Skyler is asking for the house to be renovated or something, when Walt is working 2 jobs and barely keeping his head afloat. Nobody made him decide to make meth, that was entirely his decision. But then Skyler forced to go for the expensive treatments. Sure, the treatments turned out well, but nobody could’ve foreseen that. If Walt could’ve stuck to his original plan, he would be dead by now and Skyler would have a ton of money and things wouldn’t be so bad, not for Skyler at least.

    A big issue here is control and how Skyler is a control freak. The “Pillow Talk” scene says it all. But Skyler hates it when Walt takes back that control. I understand why she slept with Ted, because Walt forced himself back into his home. But why does she have to keep fucking Ted? Ted is an idiot by the way. First of all, you don’t sleep with someone’s wife. Secondly, you definitely don’t continue sleeping with said wife after her husband has gone completely loco at your office.

    But that’s not why I hate Skyler. After all, can you really hate someone who loves you but doesn’t understand you? It’s not their fault. I dislike Skyler because she is a hypocrite. She is helping Ted commit fraud. Her solution to her husband’s “infidelity” is to fuck Ted. I thought that when Ted explained to her why he had to commit fraud, she would understand why Walt did what he did. But no. She clearly respects Ted more than Walt. From what I’ve read, it seems that further in the series she gets more hypocritical.

    Why do I say the show has anti-marriage themes? Gustavo Fring sums it all, “As a man you provide even if your family doesn’t appreciate it.” So go ahead and get married, guys.

    Also, Skyler is like the writers’ lazy plot device or something. When they need Walt to do something, they get Skyler to cook shit up.

  • Hector Salamanca

    Point me to a single thing Skylar has done in 5 seasons to endear her to the audience. I’ll wait….

  • John Loo

    Okay, I’m close to Season 5 now. I change my mind about Skyler. I understand she slept with Ted to get Walt to divorce her. But I’m not so sure if being the “Danny” for Walt’s money laundering is such a good idea. I get it she wants to make the story believable, but it’s also because she is a control freak which compels her to do it, AND buy that car wash when there are probably a dozen other car washes in the area.

    Also, Saul has been laundering money for years, take his advice, why don’t ya?

    I’m now more convinced that the writers use her too conveniently. That thing with the IRS, felt like a stretch.

    But Ted, God this guy is an idiot. “I don’t think anyone is going to jail”? Apparently he dies later on. Good.

  • Guest

    I’m in the minority, but I maintain a theory that Walt’s whole storyline has never been so much about money or drugs but about a guy who has been bullied and pushed around his entire life finally deciding to push back and stand up for himself after he realizes he has nothing to lose. While this rebellion is evident in his altercations with Bogdan and the testosterone-fueled punk in the clothing store, IMO Skyler’s controlling character epitomizes the oppressing cloud that kept Walter submissive and resentful up until his diagnosis:

    - She has him humiliating himself working the second job at a car wash in front of his students while she stays home selling crap on ebay and pretending to write.

    - She berates him for spending $15.00 at Staples on the credit card

    - Once being told about the diagnosis, she immediately makes it all about her, even directly approaching Elliot to manipulate him into paying for the treatment without any regard for Walt’s history with him. Her ‘intervention and the tirade that ensues after Marie dared to disagree with her is a shining example.

    - At one point she has exactly what she wanted – Walt is leaving her alone, is out of the house and has signed the divorce papers, but she keeps thinking about that bag of money and all of a sudden she rationalizes that maybe everything’s not too bad as long as she can be in charge of the funds.

    - She uses the carwash story ‘script’ as an obvious tool to make Walt humble himself in front of the family while remaining completely removed from taking responsibility for her own actions.

    I’m not defending Walt’s character or his actions. In short my point is that the relationship with Skyler is a plot device that, from the moment Walt (probably for the first time) took a stand and told her to “climb down out of his ass” remains a constant reminder that above all else Walt is maniacally set in his conviction that NOBODY will ever tell him what to do again.

  • John Loo

    Right on! Skyler is a control freak. Her decision to stay behind was so fucking stupid. Now she has the feds all over her and she is poor. If she went with Walt, she wouldn’t have to deal with this shit. After helping Walt so much, that decision was just wtf. But I guess it’s just part of her being a control freak and wanting to take back control even though it was a terrible attempt.

  • I ha

    I just watched breaking bads all episodes for the third time, and the last two times I skipped ALL the fucking whore clips with Anna gunn god i hate that bitch so much

  • Kevin Herman

    How about i hate her because she allowed Walter to manipulate and humilate her from the start. If she would have went to the cops as soon as she knew what Walt was up too many lives would have been saved. She was no equal to Walt. He manipulated her for a long time just live everyone else.

  • Neil Childs

    I don’t hate skyler but I do not like her, she is really fucking annoying, moaning and she’s a bitch. I did like skyler scene when she kept saying “shut up” but that is the only good thing she has done in this show.
    What pisses me off is anna gunn won an emmy this year but lorraine bracco or jennifer carpenter have never one an emmy, bullshit.

  • Neil Childs

    she’s endeared the audience to hate her even more leading her to win an emmy, somehow

  • John Loo

    Yes, good for Anna Gunn, honestly.

  • Neil Childs

    yes

  • Michelle

    I am a bit alarmed over the responses here…

    There seems to be a common consensus that Skylar is the reason why Walt did the horrible things to her, and why her life fell apart.

    Walt chose to become a drug dealing murderer (and yes, he did choose, he admitted himself that he did it for him, and there were quite a few points where he cold have stopped but he didnt). Skylar had issues with this, and Walt almost rapes her, manipulates their son against her, and pyschologically tortures her.

    How the hell is Skylar a bitch here? Yeah, she was a bit prim and silly in the beginning (“we don’t use that card”) but if that is some kind of justification for what walt later does then you clearly have issues with women or think there is something noble in being a violent, evil person.

  • miscast

    I’m a Skylar hater. Emmy notwithstanding, I don’t think Gunn makes the character live. I have no sense of a person there. The character is a creation of the writers, but only lives on the written script. To me the flaw is the acting and direction. Everything screeches to a halt when she’s on screen. Scenes with her are pure soap opera – flat acting, flat dialog, endlessly boring and long.I never experience her as real. No comparison to Carmela Soprano who was brilliantly brought to us in living color. And the Skylar character is hateful anyway – manipulative, controlling, selfish, willful, hard-nosed, amoral. I hate Walt, too, but can’t imagine why he makes all these sacrifices for her and persists in his attachment to her. He might as well be attached to a doorknob.

    I have no problem with a genuine female villain. Lydia is far better acted and and comes across as a real person. I keep thinking of Julia Louis-Dreyfus or Tina Fey in the Skylar role. Yes, they’re known for comedy, but maybe they could make the stretch. One senses each as a real, living woman and would have drawn me in.

  • Sara Jones

    I hated Anna Gunn anyway and was so annoyed to find out she’d be in Breaking Bad, it totally ruins it for me and when her character comes on I want to put pins in my eyes. I hate her even more than Gwenyth Paltrow and I just see Paltrow as an airhead with no ability to act what so ever. Why does everyone hate her? Because she’s stupid and can’t act! The role would be fine but her annoying irritating voice and persona drives me insane.

  • Sara Jones

    I missed that she’s the ugliest cow to graze on shit!

  • Moe

    Look how quickly she changed her opinion on everything when she saw the money in the bag! She went from divorce the drug dealer to let me get back with him, have him pay everything for hank etc! Lots of people think her change to the “other side ” was random n bad writing but I think the writters emphasised when she first saw the money in the bag she got seduced n straight away started thinking errrm

  • Moe

    Nope, shift was clear she was weak n a hypocrite who was easily seduced by money. When she first saw the money in the bag the scene made it clear she instantly started to doubt her decision to divorce Walt and saw opportunities for herself

  • Lilly

    I’m a woman and I can’t stand Skyler. It has nothing to do with the fact that she disagrees with Walter. It’s because she revealed herself to be a hypocrite. When she first found out about Walter dealing drugs, she opposed it, which I understood. Once she realized how much money he was bringing in, she took his side and helped him launder the money. After they had enough money to be set for life, she wanted him to stop. She wanted to keep his dirty money and live off of it even though she originally opposed how he earned it. Because Walter wouldn’t quit the drug business, Skyler turned on him again. Why does no one else seem to notice this?

  • Lilly

    Thank you! Someone finally notices that Skyler is a manipulative and hypocritical bitch.

  • Lilly

    Ding ding ding ding ding!!!!!

  • Lilly

    I never understood why male writers do this. I know very serious and moral men (was engaged to one) and women who are silly and rarely serious (me). Hell, my best friend, who is a woman, is the goofiest person I’ve ever met. Do male writers live in a parallel universe where women can only be serious, a giant bitch, sexy or all three?

  • Marble Shark

    You, my friend, are a complete fucking idiot…

  • yaaaa

    She has an annoying face to look at . Then her role is the next annoying part . lastly she cannot act for shit

  • Not so deep

    It honestly has nothing to with gender roles. The reason I personally cannot stand Skyler is literally her character as a whole. The entire show she shows virtually no personality beyond cold dead stares, the silent treatment, and just general “bitching”. The kind of bitching that is in no way productive or serves to advance the story. She complains to a degree that quite literally and simply comes down to being annoying to watch and hear. It isn’t about misogynist views or her needing to be a “quiet, submissive, supportive wife”. Its about her character simply being annoying. The few decisions of any kind of depth she makes are so full of hypocrisy and ignorance that they only serve to further push her away from being a likable part of the show. I would be all for a strong female character that contributes a genuine moral and ideological opposition to the blatantly absurd decisions of her husband…but she doesn’t. She bitches and gives one hell of an apathetic silent treatment. That’s it. I for one find her annoying and everytime she gets on one of her “backbone of steel” stands, I find myself thinking…why won’t she just shut the **** up. This character was just poorly written. She comes across almost like an overgrown child having a tantrum. Anybody remember the seen where she simply screamed “shut up!” fifteen times in a row? I nearly changed the channel.

  • doc_nice

    it has nothing to do with gender as a man I can appreciate a woman with a personality beyond an ok person but her character is a control freak hypocrite of a person and that is why I think nobody likes her she does nothing to help any situation only bitches and whines n just being honest nobody can defend a person like that walt kills himself to take care of her n like the terrible character she is she sits there n wastes it all n tries to control what isnt hers but I think Anna Gunn did a magnificent job it was just bad writing that made her character out so bad

  • PK

    It has absolutely nothing to do with sexism, mysoginism, or any sex related paranoid.

    It is plain simple. At the same time she was ‘concerned’ and pissed off about the moral and what’s right and wrong in Walt’s activities, she cheated on him with a million dollar tax evader.

    Even though we have to consider the differences between those two crimes, she wasn’t aware of Walt’s drug dealing when she allowed Ted to make his moves; and at that time, Walt wasn’t the feared ruthless criminal mastermind yet but only the one who cooks.

  • Will Cox

    I think Skyler is just no exception to the fact that ALL of the family characters in Breaking Bad are poorly written. They start one-dimensional, and then perhaps a contrived trait is added to make them seem two-dimensional, or more sympathetic (Walter Jr. being disabled, Hank getting paralyzed, Marie’s shoplifting). Skyler is just a generic housewife for most of the series… She is a BORING character, right up until she is an unbelievaby transformed character. Not only is she boring; she makes Walt boring. Every scene with Walt lying to Sklyer so unconvincingly that a child would call bullshit, is just painful to watch… It takes WAY too long for her to just say “You’re so obviously lying, Walt”.

  • AugustineThomas

    Bingo. Skylar is like your mom or the one decent girl who ever wasted time on you (before she starts acting evil anyway). That’s why so many secularists who wish their wickedness would profit them more can’t stand SW.

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