When I wrote an article about her for Fans Pages, the number of reader responses viciously scrutinizing her behavior was surprising. Here are excerpts of a few of them:
“She is deceitful, reckless, and suddenly in denial of her previous actions. I have lost respect for this character at this point. […] She is not capable to see how much Walt loves his family and would do everything within his power to protect them and provide for them. How she could look directly into his eyes and state that she is just waiting for him to be stricken down with cancer and to die is simply repulsive.” – Christine
“[Skyler] is a [sic] egoistic bitch that does not care about anybody but herself.” – Marion
“In my opinion the role of [Skyler] is a self absorbed egotistical woman who cant [sic] bare [sic] the fact that she can longer direct and control the lives around her so she is making herself into a victim, since she surely isnt [sic] strong enough to be an accomplice, or thankful enough to be a loving wife. […] Its [sic] unfortunate that Walter had to realize his potential by being a criminal, but his intentions were to be a good husband, he remained true to [Skyler] and the family at all costs. All he did was find his inner strength.” – Shulgidude
To me, it’s fascinating to see how many people view her character as the deceitful one, the manipulative one, the egotistical one. Don’t those attributes better describe Walt? Why is it that the most evil of characters is also the most beloved—and why has much of Breaking Bad’s audience grown so hateful toward a character that has, at her very worst, laundered money to keep her and Walt out of prison and their children as safe as they possibly can be?
Now, take Skyler and her progression of actions. When she first learns what Walt is doing, she sends him away and gets a lawyer with the intention of divorcing him. She wants to keep Walt as far from their children as possible, and with good reason. Would you want a meth cook anywhere near your children? What lengths would you be willing to go to ensure your children’s safety? Some fans want to know why someone so intent on protecting her children wouldn’t simply leave, and to that I say nothing is that simple. Where would she go? Move in with Ted and expect Walt Jr. to go along with it? Knowing Ted’s own criminal acts, would he really be any safer to live with than Walt? Would she be able to afford to move out on her own?
Fans are tricked into hating Skyler just as they’re tricked into rooting for Walt—she opposes nearly his every move, and therefore she is the enemy. Despite this, I say we should be rooting for her just as much, if not more, than we’re rooting for Walt. Both want what’s best for their children, but their approaches are vastly different. Skyler acts out of fear; Walt acts out of ego. As she says at the end of Season 4, Episode 6, "Somebody needs to protect this family from the man who protects this family." Do you disagree? If so, on what grounds?