The Anti-Hero’s Other Half

William Brennan asserts that Skyler White “is the best character on Breaking Bad“:

Yes, Jesse’s as smart and loveable as a newborn baby dolphin, and Mike seemed at times a vision of what an older, more sympathetic Walt might have been had things gone differently—we sensed his sense of rules and limitations, however deformed it was. But Skyler is the best character on the show because she’s the one who reminds us that it’s necessary to loathe Walt. She is our moral grounding. “People are griping about Skyler White being too much of a killjoy to her meth-cooking, murdering husband?” Vince Gilligan, the show’s creator, said in an interview this March with Vulture. “She’s telling him not to be a murderer and a guy who cooks drugs for kids. How could you have a problem with that?”

Laura Bennett also focuses on Skyler:

The question of likeability for fictional protagonists has always seemed beside the point. The issue, when it comes to assessing fiction, is not whether we like this person but whether we can identify some psychic strain of ourselves refracted through them, however ugly and small.

That’s what makes Tony [Soprano] and Don [Draper], even in their awful selfishness, even as show creators dared viewers to empathize with them, such good protagonists. Walt no longer offers us such complex psychological grist. He is less tortured evildoer than mythic bad guy, his ambition amplified and motives blurred beyond recognition. Instead of a jumble of lethal insecurities and urges he is all monstrous, abstract greed. Hank is a straightforward hero, easy to root for. Jesse is the adorable underdog, running frantically on the hamster wheel of his conscience. But Skyler—brash, self-righteous, unsure of what it means to do the right thing—is a messier case. And even at her least likeable, she is key to what makes this show overall so compelling: its moral prickliness, the way its view of good and evil can seem at once so twisted and so stark.