The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: The Skeleton Twins

Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader star in The Skeleton Twins, a story about twins who have been estranged from each other for 10 years and reunite after an attempted suicide.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

The Skeleton Twins passes the Bechdel and Russo test, but it does not pass the race test.

The Skeleton Twins passes the Bechdel test because there are one or two instances where Maggie (Kristen Wiig) talks to her mom without mentioning men. The film also passes the Russo test because Milo (Bill Hader), Maggie’s brother, and Milo’s former teacher Rich (Ty Burrell) are gay and bisexual, they are both irreplaceable characters, and they are not solely defined by their sexual orientation. For example, both Milo and Rich are irreplaceable because Milo is one of the protagonists and Rich plays an important part in Milo’s plotline. The two are also not solely defined by their sexual orientation because it is known that, besides being gay, Milo is suicidal, funny and an actor, and Rich is a husband, father and writer.

As to why the film does not pass the race test, non-White characters never talk to each other.

*The Bechdel test entails three requirements:
1. It has to have at least two (named) women in it
2. Who talk to each other
3. About something besides a man

*The Vito Russo test entails three requirements:
1. The film contains a character that is identifiably lesbian, gay, bisexual, intersex and/or transgender
2. The character must not be solely or predominately defined by her sexual orientation, gender identity and/or as being intersex
3.The character must be tied into the plot in such a way that her removal would have a significant effect

***The race or people of color (POC) test has three requirements:
1. It has two people of color in it
2. Who talk to each other
3. About something other than a White person

****Just because a film passes the Bechdel, Russo and race test does not mean that it is not sexist, heterosexist, racist and/or cissexist, etc. The Bechdel, Russo and race test is only a bare minimum qualifier for the representation of LGBTI individuals, women and people of color in film. The failure to pass these tests also does not identify whether the central character was a woman, a person of color or a LGBTQI individual and it does not dictate the quality of the film.

Advertisements