My Breaking Bad color charts have gotten a lot of attention since the show came back. It’s been overwhelming. And while the reaction has been mostly positive (thanks, internet!), I feel like I need to add a few notes to clarify the original article.
-Once it hit Slate.com, a lot of people pointed out that my findings were simply “Costume Design 101″. That’s a completely fair point, but please understand- most people don’t know about costume design. I certainly didn’t. But in a great turn of events, my exercise with the color chart actually taught me something. Namely, it taught me what a costume designer does, and just how much thought goes into their choices. I guess my point is that if you think that what I created is simply “Costume Design 101″, maybe it’s a good educational piece for you the next time you’re trying to describe to someone what a costume designer does.
-Along these same lines, I’ve seen a lot of comments from people disappointed that I didn’t list the costume designers on the show when the article originally appeared. For that, I apologize. It was an oversight on my part. And for the record moving forward, the costume designers on Breaking Bad are Kathleen Detoro and Jennifer L. Bryan. And to Kathleen Detoro and Jennifer Bryan, I tip my cap to you. Your work gave me a really awesome and fun homework assignment, and also greatly enhances the quality of the show. In some stupid, insignificant way, I hope that the charts I created for your characters helps further validate how good you are at your job.
-At least a few people have commented on the Vince Gilligan quote on the color chart. Specifically, some Redditors mentioned that Gilligan’s quote was about the work of the colorist, and not the costume designer. I used the wrong quote and people called me on it. And just like the costume design issue, it’s been a learning experience for me. I didn’t know that a “colorist” even existed, nor did I know what they do. But now I know. Thanks to the folks who have explained it.
Side note: I’ve avoided Reddit forever because every time I look in there, there are a LOT of over the top and/or rude comments. It’s hardly a place for civil discourse. That said, the Breaking Bad sub-Reddit is awesome. Those people are hardcore fans of the show and their only interest lies in discussing the show, not in internet pissing matches. If any of you are reading this, I raise my glass to you.
-There are a lot of comments questioning whether or not there’s any real evidence in the charts. That’s also a fair question, and I think it’s fascinating that so many different corners of the internet have their own theories about what the colors mean. It’s a rorschach test. To be blunt, I’m not immune. My initial article even included a lot of my own “findings”. To say the least, I think that the varying opinions divining meaning from the chart says a lot about how much meaning can’t be derived from it. There are certainly data points, but at the end of the day, it’s a fuzzy subjective science. “What colors were characters wearing when good or bad stuff happened on a TV show?” It’s hardly concrete. But it’s fun as hell to talk about, and I DO think there’s a pretty clear intent in many regards by the people who make that show. I’m just not sure we can divine their intentions in any concrete fashion. That it’s sparked this much discussion is a credit to the show and all of the people involved with it.
-I’ve also seen a few people whining, “Can’t we just enjoy the show? Does every little detail have to be broken down?” And to those people, I say “Kiss my ass.” OF COURSE you can “just enjoy the show.” Clearly, I WANT you to enjoy the show. If you don’t want to look at it in greater detail, what do I care? That’s your prerogative. I created the color charts as a way to enjoy the show on a different level- hopefully, a level that the show’s creators intended. If you don’t want to care about that detail, more power to you. But don’t dole out any flack to me or any other fan of the show about it if we do, ok?
-Since making that chart, it is very, very hard to ignore the color choices for the characters. Walt started the season in khakis and whites, and then turned dark again in recent episodes. Marie shifted away from purple yet again. She’s been rocking the black for a few episodes now. Jesse started charcoal and black, an emotionally torched shell. But he has since shifted. It’s worth pointing out that his accent color in the most recent episode- To’hajiilee- was a very reddish orange. Or put another way, Jesse’s accent color was Hank’s primary color, just as he was helping Hank play the role of Ahab chasing his white whale. Skyler’s gone pale, usually mirroring Walt. She’s grasping at the last chance she has to hold her family together and the softer, lighter tones seem to imply that. (again… there’s really no telling how true this is)
-Quite a few people have asked if I’ll update it at the end of the show, along with The Death Toll in Breaking Bad. The answer is yes to both, although it won’t be easy until I can either get a copy of the final episodes or some screen captures of the final episodes.
Last but not least, thank you to all who have visited it, looked at it, dug it apart, shared it, and enjoyed it. Creating it was not an easy task but I hoped that my reward at the end would be that lots of Breaking Bad fans would appreciate it. And that’s been paid back in buckets. Now, let’s all lock in for three amazing episodes to wrap up a truly amazing show.