The phenomenon frightens and perplexes series creator Vince Gilligan. "Skyler compared to Walt is Mother Teresa. She's the hero of that duo, yet so many viewers are saying, Man, I wish she could get bumped off, killed off or otherwise get out of his way so he can really break bad," he told The Times in an interview earlier this year. "I want as many people as I can to watch the show, but wow, I hope I'm not living next door to any of them."
On "Mad Men," the disconnect between writer and audience is less clear. In interviews, series creator Matthew Weiner has expressed a measure of sympathy for the emotionally stunted housewife played by January Jones, describing her as a "wasted resource" and a tragic product of her time. But in practice, Weiner seems less charitable to Betty, rarely portraying her in a flattering (or even sympathetic) light. This unforgiving attitude stands out all the more given how sensitive "Mad Men" is to the struggles of its other female characters, Joan Harris and Peggy Olson.
As a result, there was something almost cruel about the "Fat Betty" spectacle. "They've designed Betty as a character you're supposed to react against. Even if you wanted to be sympathetic, it triggered in you as a viewer this kind of 'Ha-ha!' Nelson reaction," says Nussbaum, referring to the bully from "The Simpsons."