Blisstree isn’t Entertainment Weekly, so we’re not posting recaps of Breaking Bad, or really anything about the show at all (don’t worry; this post doesn’t require a spoiler alert). But as chatter about the show’s characters and actors ignites, there’s one discussion thread I do want to address: The one about Skyler White’s weight. Despite the interesting progression of her character and her high quality of acting, fans seem more interested in calling Anna Gunn fat, guessing at her history of plastic surgery, and pinning down the details of when she was last pregnant (it was 2006, if you must know). Thankfully, she’s kept clear of the cruel discussions, but is this really all we have to say about her? It would seem so, and that makes me sad. So here’s my request: For the last season of Breaking Bad, let’s stop talking about Anna Gunn’s weight, and watch her be a great actress playing an awesome character instead.
Despite living in Los Angeles, Gunn manages to avoid tabloids and, like the rest of the cast of Breaking Bad, seems to steer clear of media attention of any sort, as a general rule. In the few interviews she’s given, she focuses on her work, not her workouts, and discusses the development of her character, not her diet or dress size.
But instead of obsessing over her talent, Breaking Bad fans are obsessed with her weight. Just look at the auto-terms that pop up in a google search for Anna Gunn:
…and Skyler of Breaking Bad:
It’s true that Anna Gunn’s physical appearance has changed—not only does she look heavier in season 4 than season 1; her hair is shorter, her highlights are lighter, she wears a notably different color palette; the list goes on. But the same is true of just about every character…and probably most people you know “IRL”. And yet fans aren’t nearly so cruel about Gunn’s male co-stars…and presumably, most of us aren’t quick to point a finger and yell “fat” when our family and friends put on a few pounds.
A lot has been written about how fans deflect moral judgement of anti-hero husbands (like Walt, or even Don Draper) by directing backlash towards their wives (Skyler; poor Betty). But in Anna Gunn’s case, the backlash seems oddly extended off the screen.
Maybe fans are bad at reserving emotional reactions for the characters–instead of the actresses who play them. Or maybe we’ve become so brainwashed by media that we can’t handle a woman who appears on-screen and doesn’t seem to focus her professional life around her physical appearance. But either way, the mean comments and obsession with her weight are cruel and damaging; not just to Anna Gunn (who seems level-headed enough to cope with the body pressures of Hollywood and focus on acting, instead), but to the rest of us who are watching (and listening and reading) to a rare depiction of a real-life wife on TV.
So for the final season of Breaking Bad, let’s focus on the show, and the (hopefully) great acting, instead.
Photo: Brian To/WENN.com