Anna Gunn has directly addressed the critics of her Breaking Bad character, Skyler, and reflected on the reasons why the intense reaction from fans has become surprisingly personal.
"At some point on the message boards, the character of Skyler seemed to drop out of the conversation, and people transferred their negative feelings directly to me," wrote the Breaking Bad actress in a Sunday op-ed in The New York Times.
Her character, the wife of antihero Walter White (Bryan Cranston) in the acclaimed AMC series, has endured hate on message boards and social media as the show became popular, she writes. She noted that reaction to Skyler has been similar to that of January Jones' Betty Draper in Mad Men and Edie Falco's Carmela Soprano in The Sopranos.
"Male characters don’t seem to inspire this kind of public venting and vitriol," she wrote. Gunn went on to explain why she thinks the character has drawn so much hate.
"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," Gun wrote. She added: "Because Skyler didn’t conform to a comfortable ideal of the archetypical female, she had become a kind of Rorschach test for society, a measure of our attitudes toward gender."
The actress recounted a similar anecdote about fan reaction to her character during The Hollywood Reporter's Emmy roundtable discussion in May.
"People in Albuquerque are crazy about Breaking Bad," Gunn recalled to THR. "And the thing that I didn't expect was how much people got into the characters, and this incredible backlash against Skyler. I wasn't really aware it was happening until people started telling me, 'Your character is a bitch. Did you know that?' And I was like, 'I do now!'"
Breaking Bad returned for its final eight episodes of a six season run on Aug. 11.