I was at a Mexican restaurant not long ago, surrounded by a dozen women sipping margaritas and talking at once. I was wearing my new bracelet, a chain-mail cuff. Lighting was dim and the table was the size of a medieval banquet, but it wasn’t five minutes before my friend Megan looked across from a good 10 feet away, and said, “Is that Skyler’s bracelet?”
Why, yes! That’s exactly what it was: the bracelet Skyler White wears in Breaking Bad. Actually, she wears two, stacked.
I held up my fist like a shield and everyone peered. Most knew which Skyler Megan was referring to but not all recognized the bracelet. Megan’s powers of (jewelry) observation rose significantly in my book.
Here’s a picture taken of me over the summer, breaking bad with Skyler White’s bracelet.
You will notice I’m only wearing one. I needed a shot of super power. Skyler needed a double.
That’s right. I have a theory that Skyler was channeling Super Hero powers – Wonder Woman, to be exact – or the costume designer on Breaking Bad was doing it for her.
Wonder Woman actually dates to 1941, created by DC Comics the year the U.S. entered World War II. From the outset, she wore a tiara and bracelets and was known as Diana, warrior princess of the Amazons.
Latest incarnation of Wonder Woman, released in 2011, is seriously bad-ass. Revealed to be the daughter of Zeus and Queen Hippolyta, she is given gifts at birth from each member of the Greek Pantheon – strength from Demeter, speed and the power of flight from Hermes, wisdom and courage from Athena, a hunter’s heart from Artemis, beauty and a loving heart from Aphrodite, and sisterhood with fire from Hestia.
As if that wasn’t enough, the new Wonder Woman has the ability to channel Zeus’s lightning through her bracelets. Zeus explains to her that her bracelets have always contained this awesome power, having been fabricated from remnants of Athena’s shield. She just never unleashed it before. Hmm.
Her forearm guards are now used to deflect automatic weapon fire. Also helpful: Hephaestus has modified the cuffs to allow her to conjure a sword from each one, whenever needed. Each sword is marked with a red star and takes the form of a flash of lightning. When Wonder Woman slams her bracelets together, they create “a wave of concussive force capable of making … Superman’s ears bleed.”
Take that, Walter White! And everyone who has the bad luck of locking swords with Skyler. They include Walter’s former bullying boss, whom Skyler bamboozles out of his car wash, and her former lover Ted, who also makes the mistake of underestimating her and ends up in a wheelchair.
In the first two seasons of Breaking Bad, through her pregnancy and the early infancy of her baby, Skyler wears no bracelets, nothing on her arms but a watch with a brown leather band. She also wears simple silver, beaded necklaces and pendant earrings. Those never alter. It’s her wristwear that changes. She takes on armor the moment her life (and husband) go from sweet and ordinary to complicated and increasingly treacherous.
Skyler’s bracelets appear in the first episode of season 3, during the scene where Skyler confronts Walt about what’s going on, with the mysterious behavior and sudden cash flow. Taking a wild guess that he’s dealing drugs, she is shocked to find she’s right. “Oh my God, Walt. Marijuana? … Not cocaine!”
No, methamphetamine, he mumbles, and he’s not dealing, he’s manufacturing. This sends her shooting out of her chair, and we see those bracelets for the first time.
From that point on, they never leave her arm. So begins Skyler’s epic struggle to keep her family together.
I’d just like to point out that Wonder Woman is a tough broad with a heart of gold, and so is Skyler. One thing that has always remained constant about Wonder Woman (or her alter ego Diana) is her ability to feel compassion and give love without discrimination. The modern version of this super heroine is capable of performing murder but only to protect others, when left with no other alternative.
While Breaking Bad was airing, the character of Skyler White took a serious beating in the media. There was even an I Hate Skyler White Facebook page. Walter White was the bad guy but his wife took all the flack. People picked up that she was kind of a nag, the power behind the wheedling husband. While Walter plays the lovable dad, Skyler provides the discipline. She does what has to be done and in the end, proves to be the most faithful and formidable partner (and mother) any guy could ask for.
None of this Wonder Woman stuff occurred to me when I was watching Breaking Bad. I was just thinking those bracelets were pretty punk for Skyler’s suburban Albuquerque character. I’m not sure when I started coveting them myself, but I was in the throes of divorce by the time I ordered one. I found it via a Facebook thread started by fellow blogger Robyn Hawk of The Daily Jewel. After some debate, a commenter identified it as a Sergio Gutierrez Liquid Metal cuff bracelet, handmade from nickel. I ordered mine the same day.
I’d like to tell you everything turned around for me the moment I put it on, but it was already turning around. Even two of those bracelets didn’t protect Skyler from what went down over the next three seasons. Although you will note that she and her children survived intact, even as those around her crashed and burned.
Breaking Bad is now part of television history, but my bracelet continues to perform as a kind of litmus test, a lightning rod, an experiment in the power of TV product placement. Even as I wrote about that phenomenon, I was falling prey to it myself. Since then, I’ve created a ripple effect of bracelet envy.
Here’s what I’ve observed so far. People are fascinated by the chainmaille (or “chain mail”) aspect of this bracelet. I snap it off and let them slide it over their hands. It drapes and clings like fabric. It’s not for everyone, but it’s more likely to fascinate Breaking Bad fans.
Here’s another thing: Men never recognize the bracelet, not even the most ardent Breaking Bad fans – although, I admit, I haven’t worn it around the likes of Tom & Lorenzo yet. I did wear it to dinner with a couple male friends recently. When we got into an animated discussion about Breaking Bad, I held up my arm and said, “Recognize this?” They smiled blankly. “It doesn’t look familiar?” They shook their heads. “Does it remind you of one of the characters… Skyler White maybe?”
Not even a flash of recognition, and they had just watched all five seasons. “Hm, must be a guy thing,” I said.
Soon afterward, I spent a weekend with my sister and her friends, who also turned out to be Breaking Bad fans. One of them was thrilled to find Skyler’s bracelet on my wrist and wanted to know where I’d found it. She’s now wearing one herself. So is her sister.
Hey, we all need a little super power sometimes.
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