Defending Skyler White

Kristin Devine

Kristin has humbly retired as Ordinary Times' friendly neighborhood political whipping girl to focus on culture and gender issues. She lives in a wildlife refuge in rural Washington state with too many children and way too many animals. There's also a blog which most people would very much disapprove of

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9 Responses

  1. Mark says:

    One of the functions of ancient drama was catharsis. We discharge our emotions by watching the protagonist suffer the inevitable consequences of his human shortcomings and reflect on our shortcomings. In order for this to work, we need to identify and sympathize with the protagonist. This literary device makes us sympathize with Milton’s Satan, Humbert Humbert, Tony Soprano, and Walter White. Walter White is an objectively evil man who profits from drugs and murders people. However, it is the genius of the show that we come to identify with him. Skyler is one of his victims. Unfortunately we admire the “strong” man and despise victims. We see very few dramas where the “hero” eschews violence and chooses peace, and perhaps this says something about us.Report

  2. Doctor Jay says:

    When people say things like this, I often wonder whether, perhaps, they weren’t cheated on by their own wife while they had cancer. Or something like that. When something pushes one’s buttons that hard, there’s usually a reason.

    That doesn’t make them right about it in some objective sense. I agree with your pushback. @mark has a good point above, too, about despising the weak. But for that person, it’s truth.Report

  3. People that hated Skyler White were always, always, ALWAYS telling on themselves.Report

    • Zac Black in reply to Sam Wilkinson says:

      So much this. Skyler was the most rational, reasonable person on the show, and the way so many people hated her character says a lot about people’s willingness to identify with a story’s main character to the point of madness, on top of the usual heaping helping of misogyny you find in any given group of people.Report

  4. Mike Schilling says:

    for the sake of her own safety

    And that of her children. Skyler was also much better parent than Walt.Report

  5. Kazzy says:

    “And I think part of the reason it bothers me so greatly is that even though Skyler White is a fictional character…”
    The actress who played Skyler, Anna Gunn, reports she endured quite a bit of criticism and harassment herself because of the negative perceptions of her character. That’s… ugh.

    I always thought BB worked best as a send up of white male fragility. Walt wasn’t someone to idolize… he was someone to pity at best or mock at worst. Yes, he got dealt a bad hand with cancer… but he was primarily a victim of his own lack of ambition and poor decision making. He was mad the world wasn’t served to him on a platter and took it out on everyone else. It is a compelling story because of how well it was done but the guys (and, yes, I’m sure they’re 99% guys) who idolize Walt missed the point the same way the guys who idolize Tyler Durden missed the point Fight Club.

    More here:

    • atomickristin in reply to Kazzy says:

      I had a whole section on that and cut it for flow, thanks for posting it.

      I am of the opinion (and I will probably write about this at some point) that BB/BCS are more about the women than people realize. There’s some truth in both shows about what being a woman really means and it’s something that has never been shown, at least not in any show I’ve ever seen. Women suffer a lot because of male pride/fragility, and I know it’s a cliche (the article about male suffering that was about women, and all that) but it’s for reals.Report