Last week I wrote about my sister’s week-long binge of Breaking Bad and shared her hilarious text messages to me as she watched. Partway through her viewing, we talked the character of Skyler – whom I never liked – and my sister seemed to be very sympathetic to the character’s actions. Since it seems to be the minority opinion, even warranting an op ed piece by the actress who portrays Skyler, Anna Gunn, I asked my sister to share her thoughts on Skyler White. – Nina
Skyler wasn’t likeable in the beginning, but honestly speaking, neither was Walt. Walt was a dork and we liked him out of pity. Take a moment to imagine what it would be like to walk a day in Skyler’s shoes. Skyler was a homemaker, married to a docile man who was rich in knowledge, but socially awkward and financially poor. Together, they raised a teenage son with a disability and anticipated the birth of an unexpected child. There was no better way for Skyler to spend her days than preparing meals and monitoring the household budget. Of course she was a nag! It gave her purpose.
The reasons I disliked Skyler in the first two seasons had to do with her lack of loyalty to her spouse. As a wife, I believed it was her duty to be trustworthy and supportive. She always demanded the truth, but then she wouldn’t keep her mouth shut. She repeatedly shared the private details of her marriage with Marie, who in turn shared the information with Hank. That is unacceptable. She also failed to respect Walt’s authority by approaching people like Jesse, Saul, and Bogdan against Walt’s wishes. She was completely out-of-pocket, but understandably so. Throughout her marriage, she would have often needed to “wear the pants,” because Walt was always so mild-mannered. She had no idea her husband had finally grown some balls.
Fast forward through the drama and now Skyler finally knows the truth. This is where I begin to accept and identify with her character. The degree of dishonesty and manipulation that Skyler endured should be a deal-breaker in any marriage. Walt revealed himself to be a liar and a criminal – the complete opposite of the man she’d married. She was backed into a corner and she responded defensively. Her instincts were to protect herself and her children. I agree with her choices to distance herself from Walt. Too many “ride or die” women destroy their lives following the lead of selfish and irresponsible men. Ladies, sometimes it’s okay to walk away.
This is the point where Walt fans will argue that everything Walt has done was for the benefit of his family. To that I say, bullshit. This ceased to be about Walt’s family a LONG time ago. Upon diagnosis, Walt was faced with mortality and the realization that he had not made any notable accomplishments in his lifetime. To say he is the genius behind Gray Matter is an embarrassing story to tell, considering it ends with his former partners being worth billions and him not being able to afford to use his Mastercard to purchase a ream of copy paper. Walt was the punchline of Life’s cruel joke. That is, up until the point when he became Heisenberg. Initially, Walt did seek to leave behind a certain amount of money, but then he got a taste of power and success. Ever since then, this has been about his ego and nothing more.
Back to Skyler, because fuck Walt. Whether you agree with it or not, Skyler had once been the source of strength in their relationship. Walt’s revelations suddenly stripped her of any authority and reversed the roles they’d played for nearly 20 years. Skyler struggled to maintain and exercise any control that she could. That led to such decisions as Ted. I don’t blame her for Ted. She needed to send Walt a message and reassure herself that he did not have the power to dictate and control her life.
It is unfortunate that Skyler is the target of such hatred, yet Walt isn’t recognized to be the despicable villain that he is. It was cute at first, but there is no justifying the death and destruction of hundreds of lives, just so that one man could leave an illegal trust fund for his kids. What makes Flynn and Holly too good for community college? I’m sure they could write killer essays about their father, the educator who was lost to lung cancer, and score acceptance and scholarships to quite a few universities. Skyler is definitely the kind of woman who could endure hardship and see her family through a tragedy. She and the kids would be just fine, if not better off, if Walt would just die already.
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