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In Defense of Skyler White

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.

Skyler and Walt

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.

Skyler White

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.

Skyler and Ted

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.

Do you have an opinion you’d like to share on Project Fandom? Send us an email with ProFan Sound Off in the subject line. – projectfandom@gmail.com

About Christine Odilia (1 Articles)
Christine Odilia was sent from the future in order to prevent social networking's destruction of mankind. Currently, she spends most of her time "checking" Facebook, uploading selfies to Instagram, planning an unfunded home remodel on Pinterest and randomly submitting rants to Project Fandom. Bottom-line: We're screwed!

3 Comments on In Defense of Skyler White

  1. What has made me dislike Skyler since the beginning (aside from the obvious fact that the character has been largely written as one big risk; someone who only serves to potentially ruin Walt’s plans) is the fact that, beyond her lack of loyalty to Walt, she seems to have plenty of loyalty to go around to everyone who isn’t Walt. Marie’s shoplifting? I support her in this tough time. Ted’s cooking the books? He did it for a good reason, so I’ll not only cover for him, but I’ll also give him a shitload of Walt’s money.

    Since Walt is the main protagonist, it makes sense that viewers are going to sympathize with his motives, so Skyler not supporting him would seem to be a character trait given to her intentionally to make the audience see her as a minor antagonist; with that said, the other traits (the fact that she has apparently been willing to support everyone except Walt) appears to be a flaw in the character design. That’s the part of Skyler White that I dislike, and I’d wager that what most people dislike most about her.

    However, in these final episodes, I’m enjoying the fact that she finally looks to be supporting him–not because he’s her husband, but–because that makes sense for the character, and it makes sense, to me, as something an actual spouse would be likely to do. The Hank and Marie relationship has been much more organic, in my eyes, with him being willing to cover for her shoplifting, even though he’s shown himself to doggedly go after any and all criminals, for example.

    For most of the series, the character of Skyler has been badly written–to me–because she just hasn’t felt like a realistic person as much as she feels like a cardboard cutout of “an obstacle in Walt’s way”.

    And I absolutely blame her for Ted. Cheating with him, physically, was understandable with how she surely felt betrayed by Walt, but cheating with him emotionally? Supporting him in his criminal act? Can’t let that one slide, and it was yet another thing she did that could have gotten Walt caught.

  2. I do agree that her character was purposely written to add some suspense to the series. However, I was able to rationalize her decisions. She didn’t necessarily go along with Marie’s shoplifting. She refused to acknowledge her until she apologized for putting her in that position. I think the reason she ultimately let it go (after the apology) was because they didn’t share a household, Hank was aware and she was seeing a therapist. It was more or less not her problem and it was being handled.

    Moving along to Ted. She also had a strong reaction when she learned of Ted’s criminal activities. However, at that time she did not know what Walt was into. The main reason she even had the job was because she was under the impression they desperately needed the money. So, although she disagreed, she wasn’t prepared to walk away from the job. She, again, took an attitude of making sure she was as removed as possible. She did not verbally condone it, she merely said I won’t sign my name to it if it doesn’t all add up. She left it for Ted to manipulate, while she turned a blind eye. This whole scenario was necessary to permit Skyler’s character to evolve into the kind of wife that could eventually support Walt and launder his money. Not to mention , we needed to see that laundering money was something she could potentially be good at.It set a precedence for her being able to participate in criminal and unethical activity as well as establish credibility in terms of her ability to run a business and understand the process of money laundering. Without the Ted narrative, her character would have abruptly done a complete 180 and it would have been even less believable. There’s no evidence I recall that suggests that Skyler ever loved Ted. I believe it was merely an affair. For her it was a matter of convenience and a means of escape. She had no problem slamming the door in his face when she was ready for it to be over. That’s not love. Giving Ted the money had nothing to do with how she felt about him or his situation, it had everything to do with her believing she was protecting her family. Granted, there’s no way she should have given that kind of money away without bring Walt in the loop.

    I’m also glad to see her character play a more supportive role. It reinforces my opinion that Walt is the problem.

    • Oh, I didn’t think Skyler ever loved Ted; she was just there for him emotionally in a way that she really wasn’t there for Walt. She supported him in the way Hank supported Marie: disapproving, but ultimately understanding. I completely agree that her experience with him (especially the fact that he exploited her support) has helped shape Skyler into the more supporting (yet now cautious) spouse she is, but I don’t see the ends as justifying the means; she still did cheat on Walt physically and emotionally, and disliking her while she was doing that–and until she has recently began supporting Walt in that way–makes total sense to me.

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