fans of breaking bad he saw Bryan Cranston’s Walter White as the idyllic everyman. They applauded his seemingly meteoric rise from hapless loser to a wealthy and powerful drug lord who may have influenced Boba Fett’s book. The critically acclaimed drama was littered with characters very much like Walt: while they had obvious flaws and committed various misdeeds, their more positive qualities and overall complexity kept viewers coming back (and following them to the spin-off). Better call Saul).
Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) was beloved for his kind heart, quirky personality, and capacity for love, despite helping Walt in his efforts to manufacture meth. Walt’s brother-in-law, Hank Schrader (Dean Norris), a racist police officer who often abused his power, was viewed predominantly as a just and self-sacrificing family man. The one exception was Walt’s wife, Skyler (Anna Gunn). While she was crushed under the weight of Walt’s illegal empire and desperate to protect her children, she was seen as a major hypocrite, and many fans of the series treated the character with extreme malice.
Skyler was framed as someone who bullied Walt
Online forums were inundated with hateful comments, ripping the character apart for everything from minor transgressions to his role as an antagonist to actress Anna Gunn’s appearance. But from the start of breaking bad, Skyler was framed as someone who frequently emasculated her husband. When she was late for her own birthday party, she chided him. She seemed too focused on a trivial online auction to give him any real privacy. She often scolded him for getting money for his presumed terminal cancer.
Skyler was quick to characterize herself as the antithesis of the supportive housewife archetype, casting herself in an adversarial role even before any real conflict began. Her strong personality and clearly illustrated desires for her clashed with Walt’s meek and apathetic demeanor in earlier seasons. As Walt established himself as a powerful kingpin in the later ones, Skyler’s willingness to protect the family from her was seen as another attempt to prevent her husband from prospering.
Skyler accepts her darker side and is called a hypocrite
When efforts to distance herself from Walt proved unsuccessful, Skyler found herself seduced by money and developed something resembling Stockholm Syndrome, leading to her being called a hypocrite. To some, Walter White remains one of the most celebrated anti-heroes in modern pop culture. And this left his wife, as Gunn pointed out in a New York Times piece, relegated to the role of “a ballast, a shrew”. To viewers, Skyler was a whiny, spoiled, and perpetually unhappy woman worthy of unparalleled vitriol.
Where Walt plays into the gender stereotype of the ideal American male, a ruthless and formidable provider, the strong-minded Skyler refuses to participate in the docile role seemingly dictated by her gender (akin to the strong women in the 355). Despite this, much to the outrage of her fans, she was frequently shown engaging in frivolous “girly” practices such as bathing, applying lotion, and taking pride in her appearance, all while lecturing her hard-working husband.
Skyler was lied to, manipulated, attacked and abused during the course of breaking bad. Yet Walt, filtered through a fun, triumphant, action movie-style lens, is seen as the victim of his wife’s domineering nature. As YouTube essayist Jack Saint points out, this is most clearly illustrated in Season 3, Episode 3, “IFT.” The episode put an unusual focus on Skyler, who had tried to get Walt out of the house. Walt bursts in and, in front of the police, cradles his daughter Holly, admits his shortcomings, and regrets not being “the most caring father.”
Audiences, fully conditioned to empathize with Walt, took his words to be true. They fully believed in the ongoing charade of Walt as a loving and selfless family man. They, like the officers, were being lied to. If they had taken a moment to examine the situation from Skyler’s perspective, they would have been terrified to death. Walt was an obvious danger to Skyler’s family, and every effort to protect them was met with at best indifference, and at worst with more sympathy for his tormentor. Contextualized another way, this wouldn’t be out of place in a horror movie.
The ending of Breaking Bad marked the beginning of Skyler’s redemption
Thankfully, while the large amount of hate towards Skyler hasn’t completely disappeared since the end of breaking bad, most viewers reexamined his point of view at the exact moment Walt became irredeemable. Season 5, episode 14, “Ozymandias” saw Walt kidnap his daughter after the family refused to leave with him, prompting an increasingly distraught Skyler to plead for his return, falling to her knees in the middle. of the street.
The episode finally allowed viewers to see the truth behind Walt’s actions. breaking bad it was never a story about a poor, tyrannized man achieving great, albeit illegal, success. It was a story about a pathetic, self-pitying man’s slow downward spiral into undeniable evil. Unfortunately for Skyler and the actress who played her, fans found this out too late.