‘Breaking Bad’: Marie Schrader Is So Obsessed With the Color Purple — Here’s Why
Marie Schrader isn’t one of the main characters on the hit AMC drama Breaking Bad, but she is one of the most memorable. Marie is Skyler White’s sister and fans took issue with her from the very first episode she appeared in. It didn’t help that Marie was married to DEA Agent Hank Schrader, the man who eventually discovers Walter White is really Heisenberg.
Marie is a constant presence throughout the series, known for being a radiologist, an overly involved sister, and a kleptomaniac. But perhaps no detail stands out more than the fact that Marie loved the color purple. A lot.
There are no coincidences on Breaking Bad. What is the deeper symbolism behind Marie’s purple obsession?
Marie Schrader can’t get enough purple
It’s not just that Marie wears purple a lot — she even surrounds herself with purple. The décor in the home she shares with Hank is completely immersed in purple furniture and accessories of varying shades. It’s impossible to equate Marie with any other hue.
It turns out Betsy Brandt, who plays Marie on the series, had a hand in picking which color Marie would love the most. And she said it’s by far the most common question she gets from fans, who always want to know: What’s with all the purple?
Betsy Brandt says Marie goes all the way
Taking her love of purple to the extreme is a way of conveying that Marie is an all-or-nothing type of person. She’s also relentless in her desire to help her sister and her devotion to Hank’s physical therapy after he’s nearly killed by The Cousins.
“Honestly, it’s just something I suggested in the pilot I think because we all had a color and mine was purple, and I said, ‘I think Marie is just one of those people who doesn’t do anything half-assed, whether it’s right or wrong,’” Brandt told Entertainment Weekly.
“If purple is her color, then it is all about purple. And they just ran with that in a huge way, which I loved. You know she’s quirky even before you get into the show. Have you ever met an adult who’s just really obsessed with a color?”
She caused an uproar wearing yellow
After so many episodes of purple, fans were floored to see Marie wearing yellow in season 5 episode 8, “Gliding Over All.”
They immediately began hatching theories for why the character had such an abrupt style alteration and insisted it meant the beginning of a huge change. Indeed, the yellow shirt debuted just before Hank discovered that Walter White and the mysterious drug kingpin he’d been chasing were the same person.
Costume designer Jennifer Bryan explained the change-up to Vulture, who finds so much humor in all the color theory. “I use yellow as a relief color for her, so it’s not purple, purple, purple all the time,” she said. “You’ll notice sometimes she wears a yellow tank underneath something. There’s no deep hidden meaning — not this time.”
Vince Gilligan told a story through color usage
The switch to yellow may not have been significant, but all the other color stories throughout Breaking Bad were silently sending messages to fans.
Blue plays a very important role in telling the story, from the blue sky meth Walt and Jesse make to the “Baby Blue” song that plays in the series finale. Walter White’s name was no accident. And of course, Marie with her purple.
Most characters evolved through color but Marie did not
“We started to do that in macrocosm throughout particular series: we’d start Walt for example one year in red and take him to black. The one character we did not do that with was Marie, who stayed very consistent in her color palette: she would always wear purple, to the extent of being quite monomaniacal about it,” Gilligan told GQ.
“But there’s quite a number of man hours spent discussing color usage and assigning colors to different characters and thinking in those terms.”
For Marie, purple will always be the color.