Breaking Bad: If Only Skyler Had Gotten Out of the Way

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When Breaking Bad ended last September, we all breathed a sigh of relief. Great freaking show all around, even with a number of extras saying their lines like they were reading them off the cue card. The manufacturing of meth never seemed so exciting!

One thing I was really surprised about though was the lack of appreciation for certain core characters of the show. No matter how far down Walt sank morally, we still watched. No matter how obnoxious and grating Jesse became, we still wanted to know what happened to him.

Yet it seemed whenever Skyler had input that disapproved of Walt’s behavior or she did something was just wrong, many reacted harshly.

 

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The show may have ended a few months ago, new fans are always catching on and will be until World War III. And something that’s quite noticeable is the annoyance people take to the great Heisenberg’s former wife.

Throughout the show she nags our protagonist, tells him what to do at times, and gets her own kind of revenge on her husband after he’s done her wrong multiple times. Her method of revenge or acting out adds to much of the tension in the show and she makes things difficult for Walt almost as much as he did for her.

But that was the point, wasn’t it? Not that Skyler would be a nag or some massive thorn in Walt’s side, but that she wasn’t the type of character to go along with whatever was happening. Her part in the show was that of a tie that Walter couldn’t cut. He’d found his “calling” at age 50 and it was one he couldn’t let go. It was just too bad for the rest of the people in his life that his calling was meth and he let it take his life over.

They're just sacred Navajo herbs, yo.

They’re just sacred Navajo herbs, yo.

So when who-knows-how-many fans were declaring their hate for Skyler in person or online, I couldn’t help but wonder why everybody was so twisted about the priorities. The entire reason for Walt starting his business was to leave something behind for his family when he died.

Yet his methods included constantly lying, allowing Skyler to take blame from others for the sake of his own secrets, ignoring his family with no explanation, and this doesn’t even go into what he was doing when he was actually out of the house.

It's a lot of work becoming Satan.

It’s a lot of work becoming Satan.

But it’s pretty common to find people who empathize with Walt and his wacky band of drug dealers than they do with the woman that was forced into a situation she didn’t ask for, then told to deal with it. Life did it to Walt then he did it to her.

So when you ask someone why they hate the character of Skyler, you should expect an answer like “She’s so annoying!” and not much else but the simple stuff. Yeah, she was annoying at times- “Just give him a pass Skyler! He can’t deal with the family now, there’s gangsters after him, dammit!” We can say it because we know the full scope of the situation. Skyler doesn’t and she’s left with a guy who’s becoming an entirely different person after sixteen years.

But while we gave Walt a pass until he really had just gone too far (whatever that moment was for you) people generally didn’t mind just dumping on Skyler for whatever dumb or vindictive thing she did.

There are...so many of these.

There are…so many of these.

There’s even the Facebook page dedicated to the hatred of course, because, well, Facebook.

It seems a lot of people who do like Skyler immediately resort to calling the haters “misogynists” and the like. I’m sure they have their reasons. You can say whatever you want online with no face and no consequences and a lot of people choose to get really nasty. No- really.

But is that really it? No matter how “cool” Skyler could have been written, is being a woman what people hate? How about a woman that didn’t go along with everything Walt wanted? I don’t think it’s either of those things. Not fully, anyway.

Anna Gunn, who plays Skyler is aware of the reception the character has received as well and offers this (with her full article here)-

“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.”

But there are also a lot of THESE.

But there are also a lot of THESE.

I agree with a lot of the things she said. Specifically about Skyler not being judged by the same set of standards as Walt. And I can even see why she would trace the source of hatred back to sexism seeing as how many viewers turn their hatred of Skyler into their hatred of Gunn herself.

Jeez, I expect that from kids who watch Harry Potter and fear the little blond kid but not adults watching possibly the greatest show of all time.

As far as I’m concerned, Skyler was one of the few things keeping Walt from running his business professionally and flawlessly. She’s going against the protagonist that we’re naturally predisposed to supporting. I mean jeez, he poisoned a kid and I can actually defend him to a point, that’s how far the loyalty goes with Walt people! Can we not keep the same mindset for the wife that was dragged into it?

Well, come on, look at the way she sleeps! So stupid...but Look at Walt. OMG so tight.

No! Look at the way she even sleeps! So stupid…but Look at Walt. OMG so tight.

She had an affair with Ted, right? Yep. It was gross and I even felt like I’d been cheated on when it happened. So terrible of her, we all know. It was wrong and that’s that. But man, given her situation, and all of what she was dealing with as far as her liar criminal husband went, I don’t see her as any worse than Walt.

If Skyler would just get out of the way, Walt could do this. He could become fully submerged in his Heisenberg persona and have it all- the business, the power, the family and the life he’d been missing out on for the decades since opting out of Grey Matter Technologies.

If she would just have gotten out of the way and let her husband do whatever he wanted without questioning any of it, everything would have been fine. If only she’d had no emotions or feelings on anything that was happening around her and not had her own reactions to the situations she was being placed in, it would have been fine.

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But then that would have messed the point up on why Walt did what he did in the first place, wouldn’t it have? It’s was pretty crazy (and entertaining) when Walt hires Uncle Jack and co. to take out the witnesses. We’d reached a new low in his character because there was nobody there to tell him no.

But then he’d already gotten the better of himself because his family wanted nothing to do with him and he’d become a monster. And then Walt missed the point.

If I were Gunn, I think I’d prefer the criticism and name-calling to simply being a poorly-written character because that would be the worse thing to say about her.

What do you think? Is there more reason to hating Skyler? What’s the difference between her and a likable female protagonist and what would have made her more likable? Why does no one hate Marie the same way? Seriously, Marie- GAH.

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One Response to “Breaking Bad: If Only Skyler Had Gotten Out of the Way”

  1. Meh, I maintain that the reason why the hate of Skylar is SO venomous is predominantly because she’s a woman. If she had been a male character, a brother or a friend or whatever, she would’ve been hated sure, but definitely not in the same way. The hatred of male!Skylar would’ve been focused on the fact that s/he wasn’t allowing Walter to get away with being an evil meth manufacturer, as opposed to how it _actually_ is, which is she NAGS him and she’s so WHINY and she gets in the WAY and she just doesn’t let him do what he wants!! and let’s face it, those are criticisms that have been hurled at hated women/women character since pretty much the dawn of time.

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