Tuesday, September 17, 2013
The Skyler Dilemma
The Skylar White backlash is fairly amusing to behold from a distance (and borders on slightly annoying when your buddies are screaming the C-word at the television every Sunday night). And, for the record--I don't disagree! Skyler is really bitchy. But here's the problem, and this is a problem for the larger psychology of our self-aware, introspective era...
People get more pissed off by hypocrisy than by murder.
I've noticed a trend over the years. More vitriol is given to anyone sorta preachy who also does bad stuff, than is given to genuine, thorough scumbags. What's wrong with our egos that we hate being told what to do so badly we'll save our heartiest middle fingers for any highly audible advocate of righteousness who happens to cheat on their taxes--but then watch a gang-banger or mafioso type live an undeniably worse morality and say, "Eh, what can ya really do about that..." We're addicted to the ad hominem fallacy to the point where the content of any moral message is invalid if its point of origin isn't virtually unimpeachable. Also, Skyler was--at worst--only begrudgingly complicit at any given time, and--just like Walter--when certain things couldn't be undone, she opted to go all-in rather than have her family destroyed. (By her husband's choices.)
If we had all read the script on paper instead of watched the show... Or even listened to Breaking Bad on the radio like old-timey theatre of the mind... There's no world where the full extent of the Skyler hate-culture make any sense.
The problem with Skyler is that Breaking Bad is more art than entertainment, and Anna Gunn--an outstanding actress who I respect deeply--is simply too talented in the department of presenting a real wife whose reactions are loathsome, abhorrent and so axiomatically cunty that its realness distracts from the media experience of watching a TV show. But I defy you to find a wife in real life with half a brain and an ounce of personal courage who would be any less pissy than Skyler for the duration of YOUR monumentally disastrous methamphetamine empire.
Again, I'm not saying I don't hate Skyler. Believe me. I DO. And it doesn't make me sexist that when dangerous gambits intended to provide for his family are met with pure disdain, I pray Rosaries that her character melts in a plastic barrel. This is simply the male reaction, because MEN AND WOMEN ARE DIFFERENT.
Women are nurturing and they need the nest to be safe--understandably so. Men are egocentric and imaginative; we've evolved to stampede spazzy mammoths over the cliff so that everyone can have a shit-ton of mammoth meat and then play fantasy football. Less noble and more fun than their hedge-fund counterparts, but that's just the way it is (often).
So next time you're about to write hate-mail to the internet about how your cable provider slipped the worst human being on the planet into your package of Sunday FunDays®, just ask yourself if infidelity, money laundering, a holier-than-thou additude and undeniable un-likability are worse than whistling while you work while nine-year-olds on dirt-bikes get shot in the face.
Also, ask yourself if ten years later, Breaking Bad would hold up nearly as well as it's definitely going to if VG had picked a more likeable, less cringing and cringing-inducing real-life wife than "Anna White".