Over the last couple of years, Hollywood has certainly delivered by bringing us multi-faceted female characters in shows and movies, although it does have its share of unfairly written two-dimensional roles for women. However, an issue arises when a strong female lead is antagonised by a wave of viewers passionately hating the characters for seemingly questionable reasons. This phenomenon can be observed in the public’s perception to two drastically different female characters: Skyler White from Breaking Bad and Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada.
Throughout Breaking Bad’s massively successful run from 2008 to 2013, we were introduced to Skyler White, wife of Walter White. As the show progresses, Skyler discovers the truth about Walter’s meth-making business and her reaction to that garnered an unprecedented amount of hate from the viewers.
Some fans detested Skyler so much that they sent death threats to Anna Gun, the actress. It can be argued that Walter started producing drugs only to provide for his medical treatment and his family, however, he ultimately admitted that he did it because he liked it. Skyler merely wanted to protect her family from the valid dangers arising from associating with her husband, but many viewers viewed this as her obstructing Walter’s path to success. The actual antagonists of the show did do a lot of despicable things but were celebrated instead of hated.
Another example worth noting would be Miranda Priestly, the cold and commanding editor-in-chief in The Devil Wears Prada. Even though she is the devil that the title refers to, Miranda’s devilish image comes from the fact that she is a perfectionist who demands excellence. Her biggest negative trait would be that all of her employees are under crushing pressure to give satisfactory performances which push a lot of limits. But when the employees do perform well, they thrive, such as Andy.
Miranda has done some morally questionable things for the advancement and security of her own career, but those are rarely used in critiques for the character. Much like Skyler, much of the hatred towards Miranda comes simply from hating them without valid reasons. This unjust critique is not usually received by male characters with similar personalities, which shows that even if a female character is fleshed out and written well, they might still get the unfair branding of “horrible.”