Anna Gunn: Skyler White Hatred Comes Down to Misogyny

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Aug. 24 2013 1:09 PM

Anna Gunn: People Hate Skyler White Because She’s a Strong Woman

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Anna Gunn speaks onstage during the Breaking Bad panel discussion at the AMC portion of the 2013 Summer Television Critics Association tour

Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Anna Gunn, the actress who plays Skyler White on Breaking Bad, is helping out the Slate writers who have defended her character against all the hate (see here and here) and is picking up some of the slack, exploring in a New York Times op-ed why it is that people dislike Walter White’s wife so much. And the answer? Gunn blames misogyny:

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?

Although some of the hatred toward Skyler has turned into hatred for Gunn herself, which leads to obvious concern about her safety, she says she has realized “people’s hatred of Skyler had little to do with me and a lot to do with their own perception of women and wives.” After playing a character for more than five years, Gunn’s conclusion is surprisingly simplistic: "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."

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.