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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  • bobbee87

    I’m a woman and I really disliked the Skyler character (not as much as I despised the Rita character on Dexter though). The actress was fine, the writing of her character was the problem. We were never allowed to really see things from her point of view. She was used as a plot device and nothing more. We know the writers had time to more fully develop her character but clearly just chose not to bother. There was a lot of stuff that could have been compacted to allow for that, for example the extremely long story arc of Jesse’s house becoming a crack house ( a whole lot of time spent ordering pizza). They had time to develop a strong, sympathetic female character and the writer’s simply chose not to, so for them to later whine that it is the audience’s failure, is disingenuous at best.

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  • Allan53

    It isn’t because we’re misogynists, or because she ‘gets in his way’. And yes, Walt is pretty immoral. But even when she has valid points (which she usually doesn’t, based on the information she has), they always make sure to present them in the worst possible way, and show her being a huge hypocrite: annoyed her husband vanished for two (?) days? As far as she’s aware, he had a fugue state in reaction to the combination of massive drugs he’s on, plus the intense stress of *being given a painful, long and expensive death sentence*. And even if she doesn’t buy the fugue state, she can’t deny the massive stress he was under. And even if she’s still annoyed (reasonable, if a bit non-compassionate), passive-aggressively going out all day, every day, probably spending a great deal of money that the family does not have, is not a mature or sympathetic response. Encouraging their son to deny the name his father gave him is just unforgivable: despite my loathing for the naming of children after their parents, saddling them with the moniker ‘Junior’), that’s just such a slap in the face to those parents that agreeing with it, let alone encouraging it, is just unbelievable. Then she smokes while she’s pregnant, risking serious health issues for the totally innocent child: say what you will about Walt, but at least his customers choose to indulge his product. He doesn’t hold them down and jab it into their veins. An unborn infant is the prototypical innocent victim, as it has literally done nothing and is totally at the whims of others, something you can’t say as easily of most drug addicts. And finally, the main issue with comparing her to Walt? Walt *is not portrayed as being right*. Sympathetic, to be sure, understandable, but morally shakey at the best of times, and often outright evil. Skyler, in contrast, is portrayed as ‘the voice of morality’, with the implication that we’re supposed to sympathise with her.

    Saying someone is good because someone else is worse shows the moral reasoning of a Spice Girl. Walt may be bad. Skyler is an awfully written character without the depth of the paper she’s written on who does nothing but complain, make literally everything about how she’s been wronged (even Walt being diagnosed with cancer…somehow), do her best to emasculate her husband in their sons and others eyes, and is utterly incapable of understanding someone elses perspective, actively attacking them when they refuse to grasp hers (which is difficult since she makes little rational sense at the best of times).

    And that, in short, is why everyone hates Skyler.

  • Allan53

    One character being morally worse does not better-written another character make.

  • DonutZ4Free

    The reason why I hate her is because she is the mastermind behind all of it. And no one sees it. She is the one who puts the hit on Jesse, she tries to kill Walt, not because she wants to “save” her family, but because he is the last one standing in her way of getting out of it all with the money. The first time I watched it, I hated her for being that annoying no-good woman that every show has. The second time I could appreciate her because she lives in fear of Walter. The third time I started to realize that she is the one manipulating Walt. She tells Walt that they need more money, but at the same time she makes clear she doesn’t want him to cook anymore and get out of it all. This is the reason why Walt is killing/manipulating everyone he has met out there. She has the chance to call the police on him every minute she is alone, but she doesn’t. Why? Because she wants more money. When Hank finally realizes that Walt is Heisenberg, he calls Skyler to that restaurant. The only thing she cares about all that time is if she is under arrest or not. She doesn’t cut Walt because he had something to do with the dead of Hank, she cut him because he is the last one standing between her and freedom. She wanted Walt to kill Jesse, not because she thought her family was in “danger”, but because she knew that her money would be in danger. She even sent Huell and Kuby after Ted, despite knowing that it could end bad. She manipulated Saul, she used some highly illegal methods to get the carwash, she even started to threat Lydia. If you really look at the facts and the way she really reacts to certain circumstances, you see that she knows exactly what she is doing and why she has to do it.