So the Emmys are nearly upon us, and that means “Breaking Bad” is getting lots and lots of nominations. Full disclosure: I have not watched a ton of “Breaking Bad”, but I had heard so many amazing things about “Ozymandias”, the (I believe) third to last episode, that I decided to look up the plot to that point and watch it. Yeah, yeah, I cheated myself out of a lot of enjoyment and all of that. Oh well.
I’m glad I did it, because “Ozymandias” is as good as TV gets, and easily an instant classic. My familiarity with the characters came from what I read about them online, and even I was absolutely enthralled by the episode. It was brilliant.
One of the many highlights of the episode was the portrayal of Skylar White, Walter’s (the main character for those who don’t know) wife. Anna Gunn, the actress, showed phenomenal range, going from fear to anger to desperation and then to absolute horror without skipping a beat. She completely deserves her Emmy nomination.
It’s too bad she’s also a tool. She wrote an article called “I Have a Character Issue“, wherein she expresses the opinion that the reason so many people hate her character is because people aren’t accepting of Strong Independent Wyman characters. Her own words:
As an actress, I realize that viewers are entitled to have whatever feelings they want about the characters they watch. But as a human being, I’m concerned that so many people react to Skyler with such venom. 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?
My first reaction to this was “She cannot possibly be serious right now.” Second reaction? She cannot POSSIBLY be serious right now.
Let’s look at all of the women on television who are equals to their man and don’t “suffer silently”:
- Almost all of them
I’d say that’s a pretty comprehensive list, wouldn’t you?
For examples of her point (even though her “examples” don’t actually prove anything except that she’s working really hard to figure out a way to turn “People think my character is a bitch” to “They don’t like my character because of sexism”) she offers up that there were similar reactions to Carmela Soprano of “The Sopranos” and Betty Draper of “Mad Men”, but none she can recall about male actors.
First off, we have three examples here out of hundreds of TV shows. Whoop-dee-fucking-doo. And I also have no idea if she’s correct or not about people not hating male characters nearly as much, though I suspect not (I recall a lot of people hating Ted from “How I Met Your Mother”, though I don’t know or actually care if it ever reached that point).
However, let’s even grant her premise for a moment here. EVEN IF, this reaction is generated almost exclusively at
these three female characters only, it STILL might, in fact, NOT be invisible sexism that’s the motivation. I offer two possible theories to explain:
1) Her character is actually a bitch, or people really do think she’s a bitch not because she’s a Strong Wyman who Don’t Need No Man, but because they have concluded from her actions that she acts bitchy.
2) This one is a little bit more complex. Walter White is a drug Kingpin, notorious murderer, and all around stone cold badass. What people don’t like about Skylar is that she acts like she’s his equal when she’s – and this is the key point – only Walter’s equal because Walter doesn’t want to kill her.
That’s it. That’s the only reason. And the fact that she acts like she’s some badass motherfucker? The fact that she’ll call Walter out on things? That’s why people think she’s a bitch. Because she challenges and belittles Walter when the position she’s in – Hell, the very fact that she’s alive at all – is all due to Walter. That’s why people think she needs to support him – because without Walter, she’s nothing. But Walter can get by without Skylar just fine.
Maybe I’m completely wrong. Maybe that isn’t it at all. But it’s a Hell of a lot more fair than jumping from “People really dislike my character” to “People who dislike my character only dislike it because they’re sexist”.
So, Anna Gunn: Maybe, just maybe, the “issue” lies with you.