Anna Gunn has finally reacted to strong criticisms addressed to her "Breaking Bad" character in the past few years. In an op-ed for the New York Times this weekend, she defended Skyler White, who has been opposing her husband Walter due to his meth business.
In the essay titled "I Have a Character Issue", she said she was aware from the beginning that her character might not be the show's most popular character. "As the one character who consistently opposes Walter and calls him on his lies, Skyler is, in a sense, his antagonist," she admitted.
Gunn, however, "was unprepared for the vitriolic response she inspired" after learning that thousands of fans expressed their hatred through the Facebook page "I Hate Skyler White." The contempt for Skyler has even turned into personal attacks on the actress herself with a post, "Could somebody tell me where I can find Anna Gunn so I can kill her?" as one of the evidence.
In defense of her character, Gunn explained that series creator Vince Gilligan "wanted Skyler to be a woman with a backbone of steel who would stand up to whatever came her way, who wouldn't just collapse in the corner or wring her hands in despair. He and the show's writers made Skyler multilayered and, in her own way, morally compromised."
She added, "But at the end of the day, she hasn't been judged by the same set of standards as Walter." Gunn went on noting that some complex TV wives, namely Carmela Soprano of "The Sopranos" and Betty Draper of "Mad Men", also drew the same negative reactions.
She was concerned that these reactions reflected people's perception of "strong, nonsubmissive, ill-treated" women and wives. "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?" she asked.
Gunn ultimately blamed it on sexism as she realized that "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's reaction to fans' hatred against her character comes on the heels of "Breaking Bad" final few episodes. The show will return next Sunday, September 1 with a new episode titled "Rabid Dog". In it, "an unusual strategy starts to bear fruit, while plans are set in motion that could change everything."
"Breaking Bad" 5.12 preview: