.

'Breaking Bad' Actress Anna Gunn Writes Op-Ed Confronting Skyler Hate

Reaction reveals attitudes about 'strong, nonsubmissive, ill-treated women,' Gunn says

August 24, 2013 4:59 PM ET
Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad, Skyler White, new york, premier, hate, walter white, Walt jr.
Anna Gunn attends the 'Breaking Bad' NY Premiere at Lincoln Center on July 31st, 2013 in New York City.
Andrew H. Walker/Getty

Anna Gunn, the actress who plays Skyler White on Breaking Bad, wrote an op-ed for the New York Times this weekend addressing the vitriol her character has attracted from some fans of the show. Titled "I Have a Character Problem," the essay explores what Gunn calls a "Rorschach test" for society's attitudes about gender.

Gunn writes that she realized from the beginning that Walter White's wife would probably not be the show's most popular character, given an audience's natural tendency to empathize with and root for a show's protagonist. "As the one character who consistently opposes Walter and calls him on his lies, Skyler is, in a sense, his antagonist," Gunn says.

Relive the 10 Most Revealing 'Breaking Bad' Murders

But Gunn admits being shocked by the degree of some fans' hatred, expressed on the show's message boards, as well as personal websites and popular Facebook pages devoted to taking down Skyler. The contempt for the fictional character even spilled over into personal attacks on the actress herself. "Could somebody tell me where I can find Anna Gunn so I can kill her?" one post asked.

Gunn writes that she became concerned about what this surge of emotion says about viewers' perceptions of women and wives. "My character, to judge from the popularity of Web sites and Facebook pages devoted to hating her, has become a flash point for many people’s feelings about strong, nonsubmissive, ill-treated women," she writes, and notes that a similar contempt had been directed toward Mad Men's Betty Draper and The Sopranos' Carmela Sporano.

"Vince Gilligan, the creator of Breaking Bad, wanted Skyler to be a woman with a backbone of steel who would stand up to whatever came her way, who wouldn’t just collapse in the corner or wring her hands in despair," Gunn writes, while acknowledging that Skyler, like her husband, was also multilayered and morally compromised. "But at the end of the day, she hasn’t been judged by the same set of standards as Walter."

Gunn also discussed this double-standard in an interview with Rolling Stone last summer. "It’s more acceptable for a man to be this antihero badass doing all these things that break the law or are really awful," she said at the time. "People watching want to be Walt, or they identify with him. He doesn’t have to answer to anybody. . . . For the people who love Heisenberg, who love the badass Walt, when Skyler says, 'No, you shouldn’t do that,' they’re like, 'What is her deal!? What’s wrong with her?'"

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

prev
Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.

X

We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Money For Nothing”

Dire Straits | 1984

Mark Knopfler wrote this song with Sting, and it wasn’t without controversy. The Dire Straits frontman's original lyric used the word “faggot” to describe a singer who got their “money for nothing and their chicks for free.” Even though the slur was edited out in many versions, the band, and Knopfler, still took plenty of criticism for the term. “I got an objection from the editor of a gay newspaper in London--he actually said it was below the belt,” Knopfler told Rolling Stone. Still, "Money For Nothing," undoubtedly augmented by its innovative early computer-animated video, stayed at Number One for three weeks.

More Song Stories entries »
 
www.expandtheroom.com