Hatred for her character suggests fear of strong women
Anna Gunn is accustomed to viewers who think her character is, to use their word, a bitch. In the early days of "Breaking Bad," she was the main obstacle to husband Walter White's dream of a meth empire.
But in a New York Times op-ed, Gunn talks about how the dislike of her character has escalated to real-world hostility — and makes a convincing case that some male viewers just don't like the fact that Skyler stands up for herself, even against a husband who has turned into a murderer.
"As the one character who consistently opposes Walter and calls him on his lies, Skyler is, in a sense, his antagonist. So from the beginning, I was aware that she might not be the show's most popular character," she writes.
But rooting for Walter White — already a morally dubious position — has led to Facebook pages like "I Hate Walter White," as well as one person writing, "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?" Gunn writes.
"But I finally realized that most people's hatred of Skyler had little to do with me and a lot to do with their own perception of women and wives. 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."
Gunn told TheWrap last year that she was surprised to find that as Skyler became more morally ambiguous, viewers seemed to like her more. If that's the case, she might be able to count on a wave of good will after last week's episode.