Cinema / Feminism / Society & Culture

BREAKING BAD: The Struggle Of Skyler White


Mrs. Meth Maker is almost gone from our TV subconscious but the lingering feelings we have for her will constantly make us want to pull a Jesse Pinkman and yell “Bitch!!!!” every time her name is mentioned.

If you’re an avid Breaking Bad fan like I am, you have watched the transformation of Skyler White go from stereotypical nagging wife to vindictive money-launderer to self-aware criminal in five seasons of pure television awesomeness. And I’ll admit, I stood around the office water-cooler—so to speak—and bashed this character to no end. Making a clear point that she wasn’t appreciating Walter. Then I read this op-ed piece actress Anna Gunn (Skyler White) wrote for The New York Times about her character. She was shocked by the backlash of her character, and immediately defended her choices. “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?” Boom.

Gunn is right. Absolutely. Let’s think about this. Skyler is the reason they can launder their money, she has kept her kids out of everything, she has had to stand with a straight face while her son calls her a bitch for not cutting Walter any slack. She cleans up Ted’s mess when he commits tax fraud, and she keeps all the stories straight in front of her prodding sister (Marie) and D.E.A. brother-in-law (Hank). And as the show goes on, she finds herself morally compromised and makes hard decisions (sending her kids to live with Hank and Marie) in order to keep the lies straight. Say whatever you want about Skyler. She’s the only reason this operation went on for as long as it did.

I’m so confused when people say they love Walter White. Why? Yes, he’s a great character. But he still thinks what he is doing if for the good of his family, and that the lying and the murdering can all be justified. He’s a sociopath with cancer that’s trying to run out the clock. Skyler will have to live past Walter’s actions, will have to raise her kids, will have to find away to regain the trust of her family. Walter put her in that corner…so when you all gasp at her when she hopes his cancer comes back, remember that she has a family and the only way to get out of all of this is for Walter to die. You can argue all you want that Skyler doesn’t appreciate the risk Walter took to earn all that money. If he really was doing it for his family, he could have stopped 4 seasons ago and would have had enough money for them. Seasons 2-5 is all Walt.

Women are constantly having to be the fall-back, the mean parent, the feminazi (as Rush Limbaugh would say), the thing that holds everything together because there is this unspoken notion that we live on a man’s time, in a man’s world, and we are here to look pretty, wait on you, bear the brunt of your actions and to say “oh, boys will be boys.” And everyone that called Skyler White a bitch, with or without knowing to, tried to place this character back into a gendered role of ‘stand by your man’ wife.

Image: AMC

Laura Delarato is a web producer, writer, social media consultant, and video creator in NYC. She has spent a lot of the past 10-years of her life in internships, college, part-time jobs, graduate school, and in front of a computer typing away her next brilliant idea. Her work has appeared in Playgirl Magazine, Kong Magazine, London Glossy Magazine…and at one time CosmoGirl! Magazine. Laura spends a lot of her time typing code for the web department of Details Magazine, performing improv at The Magnet Theater, and taking any burlesque class she can find. She was nominated for Best Series at The New School’s media department awards for her show: Fat Girl, A Web Series, which was also featured on the site LESGO-NYC as a new show to watch out for. When she is not fixing the internet, Laura likes to be a total badass by participating in body-positive/fat-acceptance activism, crafting pasties, discussing the beauty of pornography, and wearing all the short skirts. @lauradelarato


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