With one of the greatest TV shows ever, 'Breaking Bad', turning ten years old this year, Entertainment Weekly organised for its cast to be reunited and to look back on the impact of the series a decade on. Among those interviewed was Anna Gunn, whose character Skyler White, wife of protagonist Walter (Bryan Cranston), received a major backlash during the run of the show.
Gunn, who also wrote a NYT essay on the subject in 2013, described the experience of receiving such hatred from fans as “very tough” as well as “bizarre and confusing.”
The actress told EW: “It was a combination of sexism, ideas about gender roles, and then honestly, it was the brilliance of the construct of the show. People did find a hero in Walt, but they wanted so much to connect with him so viscerally that to see the person who often was his antagonist — therefore the show’s antagonist in a way — they felt like she was in the way of him doing whatever he wanted to do, and that he should be allowed to do what he wanted to do.”
She recalled one early public event during which she was asked ‘Why is your character such a bitch?’
Gunn said the level of vitriol doled out by the show’s fans made her doubt her acting ability. “There was a lot of questioning: ‘Am I doing something wrong? Am I not serving the character? Am I not serving the story?’”
Her cast members were equally confused. “I really felt for Anna, because she’s just such a beautiful human inside and out, and she played Skyler in such a fierce way, and people just dragged her character the most,” Aaron Paul told EW.
Bryan Cranston said he was “baffled” by the backlash.
Reflecting on how she feels about the character and series now, Gunn explained: “Now that the show’s done, it’s kind of amazing how much it’s shifted.
“In particular, women will say…‘The journey that she went through…’ They may or may not be aware of the Skyler backlash. That’s incredibly gratifying. It’s men and women who connect with that. There’s been such a shift happening in society and in our consciousness that it’s really landing much more strongly now.”