‘Breaking Bad’: There’s a Simple Explanation Why Everyone Hated Skyler White So Much
Skyler White isn’t just one of the most hated characters in Breaking Bad, she’s also gone down in history as one of the most reviled in TV history. But that’s not the way the character was written. In fact, showrunner Vince Gilligan never understood why fans despised Walter White’s wife.
The frustration has nothing to do with actor Anna Gunn, who played the role perfectly. Unfortunately, fans had a hard time separating fact from fiction and often directed their anger at Gunn directly when really they were annoyed with a fictional character.
Why so many Skyler haters? There are a few reasons.
Skyler White was supposed to represent everyone
Breaking Bad tells the story of a man sinking into moral decay, a classic antihero with good intentions that go so wrong. Skyler, then, was meant to exist as a representation for any average person whose spouse suddenly started dealing drugs and getting involved with murderers. In other words, fans were supposed to sympathize with Skyler and hate Walt.
The opposite happened. Entire forums devoted to hating Skyler popped up, eagerly anticipating her character’s death, and Gunn even received credible threats at home. Instead of seeing Skyler as a long-suffering wife, viewers called her a nag and thought she was holding Walt back from achieving true success.
Neither Anna Gunn nor Vince Gilligan understood the backlash
“[The hate] was very bizarre and confusing to us all,” Gunn told Entertainment Weekly. “It was a combination of sexism, ideas about gender roles, and then honestly, it was the brilliance of the construct of the show.”
She continued: “People did find a hero in Walt, but they wanted so much to connect with him so viscerally that to see the person who often was his antagonist — therefore the show’s antagonist in a way — they felt like she was in the way of him doing whatever he wanted to do, and that he should be allowed to do what he wanted to do.”
Showrunner Gilligan also believed sexism contributed to fans hating Skyler so much. “[W]ith the risk of painting with too broad a brush, I think the people who have these issues with the wives being too b*tchy on Breaking Bad are misogynists, plain and simple,” he told Vulture.
“…In the early days she was the voice of morality on the show. She was the one telling him, “You can’t cook crystal meth.” She’s got a tough job being married to this a*shole.”
Skyler was no match for Walt on the show
There’s another theory that Skyler is despised because she was weak compared to Walt’s strength, at least at first. As critic Lili Loofbourow from The Week described, “Walt’s secret appeal was that he was climbing to manly-man power as he was breaking bad. Skyler was worse than a nag, then — she was an unworthy adversary. It didn’t help that she was pregnant (read: less sexually available).”
She went on: “The show structurally invites you to hate weakness, to share Walt’s pride as he gets stronger. What could be more antithetical to his progress than his annoying pregnant wife who thinks her support matters?”
Walter White admits he was wrong
Ultimately, Walter White dies and Skyler escapes him. She gets a small redemption arc when he visits her one last time, finally admitting that he wasn’t selling drugs and growing an empire for his family’s benefit but was rather doing it for himself.
By then it was too little, too late. But hopefully, it forced fans to understand that Skyler had been fighting an impossible battle all along.