There will be Breaking Bad spoilers in this thread.
Patrick just sent out a tweet leading to this New York Times article written by Anna Gunn, the actress who portrays Skyler on Breaking Bad. Anna writes:
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.
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?
I don't know about any of you guys, but the fact that Skyler is a "strong, nonsubmissive, ill-treated" woman has nothing to do with it. It's because she's just as worthy of hate as Walt.
In the lead-up to season five, I introduced my old housemates to Breaking Bad. One of them, Luke, loved Skyler and hated Walt. He thought Walt was such an asshole for lying to his wife and cooking meth, even if he was doing it out of love. He thought Walt was selfish and Skyler was a saint.
"Just wait," I told him. "Skyler is the worst."
"You're the worst" was his response.
Fast-forward to once Skyler really starts getting on Walt's case about what he's doing with his free time and now we're seeing the chinks in the pro-Skyler armor. "She's not great, but she's still not the worst," Luke told me, and once again, my response was, "Just wait."
Once we got to "I fucked Ted," Skyler had crossed a line even for Luke. "Okay, fine, you were right," he said. "She's the worst."
The reason why Skyler is terrible and worthy of hate is not because she's a woman. It's because she's selfish. Walt finds out he has terminal lung cancer and Skyler makes it all about herself. Walt begins to pull away and she refuses to let him have any secrets. Sure, sometimes he's out doing some pretty illegal shit, but sometimes he was just out blowing off steam because he has terminal lung cancer. That's initially why I didn't like her.
Then she took it too far. Walt jeopardized their relationship with his meth cooking, but it does have good intentions. Skyler, on the other hand, didn't just jeopardize their relationship when she fucked Ted and told Walt; she actively and maliciously tried to hurt Walt simply because he wouldn't tell her where he goes and what he does. That's the moment when the dislike turns into hatred.
Not only that, but she started illegally cooking Ted's books, committing her own illegal activities. And then, of course, she doesn't just become complicit, but an integral part of Walt's meth cooking schemes. Fuck, man. Even Hank and Marie on the show hate her now for that, and they're her family.
People hate Walt too. One of my roommates now, Lindsey, hates his guts. He's become a monster. He's killed so many people. He sunk Jessie into a cesspool of crippling guilt. I like him because he's exciting to watch, but I wouldn't want to hang out with the guy. I like Joffrey in Game of Thrones for the same reason. They're fun characters to watch. Skyler is usually not fun to watch.
The show encourages you to hate Skyler just as much it encourages you to hate Walter, and sure, in that sense, "she is, in fact, Walter's equal." But it has nothing to do with her being a woman. I really take issue with that sentiment. It disregards how excellent Breaking Bad is and assumes misogyny.
Now, that said, I think it's completely inappropriate to transfer hatred of a fictional character to the actor that portrays her.
I don't know. What do you guys think?