Posted: 9:21 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013
By Gina Carbone
Some people hate the Breaking Bad character Skyler so much they're willing to threaten the life of actress Anna Gunn. Those people need to calm the bleep down.
Anna plays the wife of meth-dealing, empire-building Walter White (Bryan Cranston), whose antihero flaws are more often excused away. Anna just wrote an op-ed for the New York Times about all the Skyler hate, along with her thoughts on why people feel so angry about her.
Anna said she understands the natural tendency to empathize with and root for the AMC show's protagonist, Walter. Since Skyler consistently calls out his lies and opposes him, she's often seen as his antagonist. Anna knew her character might be unpopular.
"But I was unprepared for the vitriolic response she inspired,” Anna wrote. “Thousands of people have 'liked' the Facebook page 'I Hate Skyler White.' Tens of thousands have 'liked' a similar Facebook page with a name that cannot be printed here. When people started telling me about the 'hate boards' for Skyler on the Web site for AMC, the network that broadcasts the show, I knew it was probably best not to look, but I wanted to understand what was happening. A typical online post complained that Skyler was a 'shrieking, hypocritical harpy' and didn’t 'deserve the great life she has.' 'I have never hated a TV-show character as much as I hate her,' one poster wrote. The consensus among the haters was clear: Skyler was a ball-and-chain, a drag, a shrew, an 'annoying bitch wife.'”
Anna later wrote, "At some point on the message boards, the character of Skyler seemed to drop out of the conversation, and people transferred their negative feelings directly to me. The already harsh online comments became outright personal attacks. One such post read: 'Could somebody tell me where I can find Anna Gunn so I can kill her?' Besides being frightened (and taking steps to ensure my safety), I was also astonished: how had disliking a character spiraled into homicidal rage at the actress playing her? 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."
It does seem like viewers in general are tougher on female supporting characters — maybe because most of the lead characters out there are (flawed) men and the (also flawed) women in their lives are given little to do but complain, and feel frustrated about their lack of control. See Betty Draper on Mad Men, Lori Grimes on The Walking Dead, and even teenage Dana on Homeland, who got her own article about being "The Worst."
What do you think about Skyler? Do you "hate" her? If so, why? Would you ever transfer that feeling onto Anna? She's just doing her job!
Source: NY Times