Costume tells a lot about a character. So TDYLF’s John LaRue painstakingly broke down five seasons (okay, 4.5 seasons) of Breaking Bad, noting what the characters were wearing in every scene (via recorded and found screengrabs), and charting the colors onto these massive, revealing timelines that highlight an aspect of character progression that you might otherwise miss.
For instance, Walter White starts the show wearing drab grays, then works his way through earth tones. But by the time—SPOILER ALERT—he lets Jane choke to death on her own vomit to regain his control over Jesse? He’s a man in black—the cloak he dons when the real sh*t hits the fan around big events (series finales being no exception). Meanwhile, the clothes of his wife, Skylar, shift from optimistic blue to wake-worthy black, as if she’s a widow in mourning while Walter gives his attentions to another partner, the (coincidently?) blue meth.
The other characters have more stable palettes. Jesse wears bold reds punctuated by bright yellows, Hank leans all the way toward flesh tones or gun-grays, and Marie wears rich purples almost exclusively.
The only character that leaves me a bit bewildered is Junior. But TDYLF has an excellent explanation—he’s the one who loves everyone, so he’s a supportive character in the most literal way:
Walter, Jr. is very much a supporting character whose color choices often reflect whichever parent he relates to most at the time. When Marie is in the hospital coping with Hank’s injuries, Walter, Jr. wears purple, seemingly in support. When he helps Hank or is around Hank, his colors are complementary. It’s unfortunately not reflected in the timeline, but Junior wears a lot striped or multi-colored shirts, often bearing both Walter and Skyler’s colors.
It just goes to show how much offscreen talent and intent exists to make a show like Breaking Bad so incredible, and how color can affect our mood and interpretation, even when we don’t even notice it.
[Hat tip: Slate]