The New York Times has an op-ed today from an unexpected and welcome source -- Anna Gunn, the actress who plays Skyler White on "Breaking Bad."
In "I Have a Character Issue," Gunn addresses the unreasonable, disturbing hatred that's been aimed at her character by viewers over the show's five seasons, noting that Skyler "has become a flash point for many people’s feelings about strong, nonsubmissive, ill-treated women" and that she's been given "glimpses of an anger that, at first, simply bewildered me."
As an actress, I realize that viewers are entitled to have whatever feelings they want about the characters they watch. 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?
It’s notable that viewers have expressed similar feelings about other complex TV wives -- Carmela Soprano of "The Sopranos," Betty Draper of "Mad Men." Male characters don’t seem to inspire this kind of public venting and vitriol.
The full op-ed, in which Gunn addresses how the negativity toward the character has also been transferred to her and how she feels that "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," can be read here. Our article on the phenomenon can be found here.