The most intense and exciting show on television, Breaking Bad, is due back in August, and the cast has been really great about promoting the show between the two parts of the fifth season throughout the year. In fact, the showrunner and creator, Vince Gilligan, did an interview with New York Magazine on Sunday (which was sadly overlooked by most in the flurry of upfront and Arrested Development news), but he had some interesting things to say about Skyler White, the character played by Anna Gunn. More to the point, he thinks Skyler haters are, well, woman haters.
This is what he had to say when Vulture asked him how he takes the fact that many see Skyler as a nag, a henpecking shrew:
Man, I don’t see it that way at all. We’ve been at events and had all our actors up onstage, and people ask Anna Gunn, “Why is your character such a bitch?” And with the risk of painting with too broad a brush, I think the people who have these issues with the wives being too bitchy on Breaking Bad are misogynists, plain and simple. I like Skyler a little less now that she’s succumbed to Walt’s machinations, but 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 asshole. And this, by the way, is why I should avoid the Internet at all costs. People are griping about Skyler White being too much of a killjoy to her meth-cooking, murdering husband? She’s telling him not to be a murderer and a guy who cooks drugs for kids. How could you have a problem with that?
Well, this is going to get touchy, and nobody wants to take the side of the “misogynists.” Personally, I’ve never had that much of a problem with Skyler White — as opposed to someone like Winona on Justified two and three seasons ago, and Rita on Dexter — but I actually think that Gilligan might be missing a bigger point.
Undoubtedly, if, in real life, people actually thought a woman like Skyler White — who was telling her husband not to cook meth and murder people — was a “bitch,” then yes, you’d be rightly accused of misogyny. But this is a fictional show, and one where Gilligan has created this dark, dark anti-hero-turned-villain with whom we’ve developed a emotional investment. The people that hate Skyler — and I’m not counting myself among them — don’t necessarily hate her because she’s a “henpecking” shrew, but because she’s an obstacle to Walter White, who, despite ourselves, we kind of root for (although, not as much of late).
Ironically, Gilligan says that he likes “Skyler a little less now that she’s succumbed to Walt’s machinations,” and I think that’s the opposite of how many of us feel, mostly because she’s become a much more interesting character, now that she is unwillingly and passively aggressively going along with Walt. We also think it’s only a matter of time before she snaps.
Here’s the thing: the “Internet” doesn’t root for characters in dark dramas based on morality or lack thereof — I mean, look at Nucky Thompson or Dexter or Hannibal or anyone on Game of Thrones — we root for characters based on how dynamic or interesting or compelling they are. They are works of fiction. They are not reality, and our sense of morality is divorced from our desires to be entertained. Vince Gilligan has created one of the most complex, most interesting characters in all of television history, so naturally, we’re going to root against anyone that stands in his way. But, because we are human, we will also celebrate the person that ultimately takes him down, even if — and maybe especially if — that person is Skyler White.
Oh, and one other thing: Let’s not forget that she did f**k Ted.