Why Does Everyone Hate Breaking Bad's Skyler White?

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1Photo: Via The New York Times
For anyone who follows the popular AMC show, or at least the hype surrounding it, the disdain for meth dealer Walter White's wife is probably nothing new. For a variety of reasons, audiences have reacted negatively to Skyler White since the show's beginning. What started out as harmless empathizing with the show's protagonist (after all, Skyler is often times Walt's chief adversary in his quest for dominance in the drug trade) has evolved into full-on hatred, often times to an alarming degree. Now, Anna Gunn, the incredibly talented actress behind the role, is asking the hard questions about the anti-Skyler phenomenon.

In an op-ed in this Sunday's New York Times, Gunn opened up about the backlash her character has taken, and shockingly, the backlash she has personally received. She admits that Mrs. White is understandably not the show's most popular character as a result of her attempts to stand up to Walt (it's a testament to the writers and Bryan Cranston that a murdering drug dealer can become a sympathetic character). But, could all the Skyler-centric hatred be a sign of a deeper problem in our society? Gunn believes that as a woman with a backbone of steel, she hasn't been judged by the same standards as her male counterparts, and that the backlash lies in fans' discomfort with a woman who refuses to "stand by her man," or conform to a certain female ideal.

Since we like to consider ourselves optimists, we're certainly hoping that popular opinion of Skyler isn't a measure of our attitudes towards gender, and women in general. But, we have to admit that Gunn has a point. Strong women in pop culture have often taken the brunt of negativity — think Carmela Soprano or Betty Draper. And, a quick scroll through Breaking Bad message boards and fan sites certainly doesn't reassure us. Gunn likens fan reactions to a Rorschach test of sorts on our own perceptions of women and wives. Either way, we're applauding her for taking a stand against the virtual bullies, and bringing this discussion to light. ( The New York Times )