Skyler’s Nightmare


Last week I shared the epic five-part miniseries “Skyler’s Story,” retelling Breaking Bad from Skyler White’s perspective via a hybrid of women’s melodrama and experimental dual projection film. It took me weeks of work to assemble the 160-minutes from hours of footage, and thus I certainly felt a sense of accomplishment in completing the series, and thought that I would be relieved to be done with Skyler’s portion of my larger Breaking Bad project. But I had more to say.

As I was working on the Skyler videos, my colleague David Miranda Hardy asked if I might make a “synopsis” version of the miniseries, as certainly most viewers would not take the time to consume the set of videos in their entirety.** That idea kept bouncing around in my head as I completed and posted the series, and I tried to envision the role of a shorter Skyler video in the larger project. The approach that took hold was to capture the harrowing emotions that abound for Skyler, especially in the final season, and create a video that both reminds viewers of her story and creates a nightmarish non-narrative viewing experience. Thus I present “Skyler’s Nightmare”:

In editing this video, my first inspiration was to try create an experience resembling the final act of Mulholland Drive for Skyler, where the narrative fractures and her identity is upended. I soon realized that trying to renarrativize her story out of series footage was not going to work, but I did aim to capture a Lynchian affect as inspired by both Mulholland Drive and Twin Peaks: The Return. Then Sharon Van Etten’s music came up on shuffle, and I realized that her voice captured exactly what I was going for: “Your Love is Killing Me” was Skyler’s perfect musical accompaniment, and the fact that Van Etten briefly appeared in TP:TR was an ideal intertextual link.

I tried not to embrace as much of a pure “fanvid” aesthetic as I had strived for in “Poor Jesse“; instead I interspersed more dialogue and scenes from the series alongside Van Etten’s music, decentering the lyrics a bit more than for Jesse’s Wilco song. The final 20 minutes of “Skyler’s Story” episode five struck me as the most powerful part of the miniseries, culminating her arc with the climax of Breaking Bad‘s masterpiece episode “Ozymandias,” and thus I built this edit around that episode and Skyler’s other harrowing classic “Fifty-One”—both of which were majestically directed by Rian Johnson.

Thanks to both David and Ariel Avissar for their feedback on this video—both suggested some (quite different) major rethinking that I mostly refused, so I take full responsibility for its lingering flaws!

** A quick note: more than a week after posting “Skyler’s Story,” I looked at the viewership stats—not surprisingly, they are quite low and dwindle as the series progresses. (As of this moment, the final episode has gotten only 9 views and only 1 completion!) I’m not surprised or disappointed (much) by this, as I always new that this part of the project would be of interest to a comparatively niche audience. But if you think it sounds interesting at all, please check them out!

One Response to “Skyler’s Nightmare”

  1. 1 Lilly

    Hello, Mr. Mittel!

    Sorry, my question is not relevant to this post, but I would like to ask you about daytime soap operas and prime time serial dramas. You argued that “primetime serial dramas and daytime soap operas are ‘more distinct than similar’”. Could you please name the inter-related criteria ranging from production to reception that you brought out to compare these two kinds of programs, explaining how primetime serials differ from daytime soaps in terms of each criterion. You also redefined of the concept of ‘melodrama’ to illustrate what primetime serials and daytime soap operas actually do have in common, could you please say how the redefinition of ‘melodrama’ helps to see the similarities.
    Thank you so much!

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