Winnipeg advice columnist tricked with ‘Breaking Bad’ plot

Matthew Coutts
Daily Brew
May 2, 2014
Personajes que da gusto odiar
Skyler White, ‘Breaking Bad’ Anna Gunn, la actriz que da vida a la mujer del protagonista de ‘Breaking Bad’, Skyler White, ha querido hablar de los sentimientos que despierta su personaje: “He tenido mucha popularidad, pero los espectadores en general se dedican a odiarme”. Gunn denuncia en el The New York Times que ella “no es juzgada por el público de la misma manera que Walter”. La actriz asegura que “Skyler no es una idea cómoda de la mujer arquetipo, es un test para la sociedad y una medida de nuestras actitudes hacia el género”. Bien, Skyler no es nada fácil de querer, más bien al contrario, pero le concedemos a Anna Gunn que la gente es mucho más indulgente con Walter White pese a que tampoco es una hermanita de la caridad.

Are you the daughter of a deposed king, struggling to raise dragons in a patriarchal society while fighting an uphill battle to reclaim his throne? How about a standup comedian whose relationships with his ex-girlfriend, buffonish best friend and wacky neighbour keep his up at night? Or even a cartoon construction worker tyring to bring home the brontosaurus bacon to feed your beautiful wife, darling daughter and pet dinosaur?

If so, the Winnipeg Free Press may have the answers to you fictional life’s toughest questions. Just as Skyler White, the estranged wife of Walter, who recently reached out for help from the newspaper’s advice columnist.

Miss Lonelyhearts, the advice columnist for the Winnipeg Free Press, almost definitely got trolled on Thursday when she was asked for help by a pregnant mother struggling with a moody husband afflicted by cancer.

The entry reads:

Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I've been happily married to my husband for 15 years; however, he was recently diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. Ever since his diagnosis, he's become a completely different person. He sometimes comes home in the middle of the night with no explanation of where he was. I found out he started smoking marijuana. I also have a pretty good suspicion he has a second cellphone, though he denies it. I desperately need help. I'm currently pregnant, to go along with a moody son, a husband with lung cancer and an overdrawn chequing account.

The letter was signed by someone identifying herself as "Stressed and Confused, Winnipeg." But it might as well have been from Skyler in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

That's the plot of Breaking Bad, right down to the second cell phone. Though if this turns out not to be a joke and, instead, evidence that a Walter White-ian character currently lives and breathes in Winnipeg, Man., please alert the producers at AMC. We’d all really love an encore season.

Here's some of the advice Miss Lonelyhearts offered Skyler:

You have to get tough now. Your husband knows he's going to die and it won't be long, so he's doing whatever he pleases. He may not be thinking of you, his child and the baby any more, or when he does, it makes him depressed and panicky.

One suspects that if Miss Lonelyhearts had seen the show’s pilot, she might consider that the husband was actually trying to earn money to provide for his family after his death, though going about it in a morally ambiguous fashion.

So get refocused on yourself, your child and baby to come -- as if you are already on your own. What supports can you start putting in place?

Perhaps an overbearing sister with whom you have a complicated relationship? That's always a good place to start.

Your husband has focused on his shortened life. You must stand up and become a protective Mama Bear to your children.

Miss Lonelyhearts will be happy to learn that "Stressed and Confused" takes her advice, eventually. After five stressful and confusing seasons, during which tensions at home get increasingly worse, she breaks ties with her troubled husband and moves out, taking her moody teen and young daughter with her.

It is somewhat odd that a newspaperwoman could be so easily fooled by such an obvious plot rip, from one of the most popular and culturally-invasive television shows of our generation. Then again, she is an advicist not a television reviewer.

Though readers weren't as easily fooled. "Just keep him away from old campers," one wrote – a reference to... well, just watch the show.

This isn't the first time Breaking Bad has leaked its way into newsprint.

Shortly after the popular AMC show ended its run last year, a fan group (spoiler alert ahead) slipped an obituary for the main character – that troubled husband from the advice column – into an Albuquerque newspaper. Though considering the obit ran with a photograph of celebrated actor Bryan Cranston, it's likely the newspaper was in on the homage.

"Dear Ms. Lonelyhearts: I'm the faceless president of an international chain of fried chicken restaurants...."

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