Some Breaking Bad fans have disturbingly projected their attitudes toward Skyler onto her portrayer, to the point that actress Anna Gunn has taken steps to safeguard herself from violent threats.
“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,” Gunn shares in an op-ed contribution to the New York Times. “One 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?”
Since meth-king Walter’s wife calls him on his lies both huge and small, “Skyler is, in a sense, his antagonist” and “might not be the show’s most popular character,” Gunn acknowledges. “But I was unprepared for the vitriolic response she inspired.”
“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?” she muses. “Or because she is, in fact, Walter’s equal?”
Gunn — who has twice (including this year) been Emmy-nominated for her performance as Skyler — says she ultimately realized that neither she nor her character are the problem but rather some viewers’ “perception of women and wives. Because Skyler didn’t conform to a comfortable ideal of the archetypical female, she had become … a measure of our attitudes toward gender.”
“I can’t say that I have enjoyed being the center of the storm of Skyler hate,” Gunn concludes. “But in the end, I’m glad that this discussion has happened, that it has taken place in public and that it has illuminated some of the dark and murky corners that we often ignore or pretend aren’t still there in our everyday lives.”
(Again, the full text of Gunn’s excellent, candid editorial can and should be read at NYTimes.com.)
PHOTO GALLERY | Breaking Bad’s 8 Most Bitchin’ and Bold Twists!
Have you ever found yourself among those wishing that Skyler was a bigger cheerleader for her drug lord hubby? Or do you appreciate that she has challenged Walt most every step of the way?