For five years, fans of Breaking Bad rooted for the antihero in Walter White (Bryan Cranston) while his wife, Skyler, took the brunt of the hatred in the series. Actress Anna Gunn portrayed the character for all five seasons of the AMC crime drama. Despite presenting a number of award-worthy performances throughout Breaking Bad, Gunn never managed to get Skyler the approval she deserved from viewers.
While Walter was building his meth empire, Skyler was holding her family together. Aside from a moody teenage son, Skyler was left taking care of their newborn daughter, Holly, while her husband disappeared from time to time with no conceivable explanation. To keep her family afloat while experiencing financial struggles, Skyler made an effort to earn money through legal methods. The strain of Walt's suspicious activity boiled over but Skyler put her family first and vowed to help Walt launder his money. For a brief time, it was thought that Walt and Skyler could repair their marriage but she became fearsome as he fell deeper and deeper into his drug empire. In the end, the safety of Walt Jr. and Holly came before her husband's aspirations.
Throughout Breaking Bad, viewers clung to Walt as he was presented as an ordinary man who focused on unconventional means to support his family. Since Skyler was kept in the dark for a large chunk of the series, she was depicted as a nagging wife by many viewers. As the series built Walt as an antihero, many saw Skyler as a roadblock since she would get in the way of her husband's master plan. It didn't help when she turned her sights on Ted Beneke while pregnant with Walt's child. It wasn't until Sklyer was filled in regarding some of Walt's dealings did some viewers start to let go of the hatred. For a time, Skyler was Walt's partner-in-crime but that was short-lived as she couldn't handle the danger that he was bringing to the family.
Anna Gunn Was Bothered By The Skyler Hate
Anna Gunn, as well as Breaking Bad's cast and the show's creator, Vince Gilligan, were surprised about the amount of hate that Skyler garnered. She once referred to the backlash as "bizarre" as some of the character's criticism was rooted in sexism and a skewed interpretation of gender roles. Viewers were outspoken about Skyler's constant scolding but never brought up Walt's illegal activities, constant lies, or the danger he brought on his family. Even when Skyler evolved into an antiheroine and Walt revealed his selfish reasons for not putting his empire in the rear-view, a large segment of viewers still clouded Gunn's character in hatred.
Why Viewers Were Wrong For Hating Skyler White
Skyler put up with a ton throughout Breaking Bad. Not only did she have to cope with Walt's cancer diagnosis, but she was also faced with a pregnancy, an angry teenage son, and financial struggles. With Walt disappearing for days on end, Skyler didn't have many people to lean on. Her sister, Marie, was bossy and judgmental, forcing Skyler to face many of her struggles alone. Those who labeled Skyler as a shrew and a constant scolder never really took time to think about her perspective. Walt may have been secretly trying to provide for his family but that notion was never explained to Skyler. Instead, he gave her lie after lie while facing the family's issues alone.
It's understandable why Skyler's relationship with Walt diminished. She married a chemist who later became a harmless high school science teacher. Skyler didn't sign up to be the wife of Heisenberg, nor did she want a life of crime and money laundering. The fact that she pushed her morals aside and refused to turn her husband in, and instead helped him, was impressive enough. At the beginning of Breaking Bad, Walt claimed that he did everything for his family. Skyler used the same reason when she forced Walt out of the family's life in season 5, but she's the one who received the backlash. One of the best aspects of Breaking Bad was the complex characters, but it's always important to look deeper than what was displayed on the surface.