The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Aquarius, “Never Say Never to Always” – Season 1, Episode 2

In the second episode of Aquarius, “Never Say Never to Always,” Sam’s son went missing; Brian and Charmain found Emma; Charles recorded his demo; Sam and hooked up Grace; a drug dealer was murdered; and Emma made a second disappearance.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“Never Say Never to Always” passed the Russo test but did not pass the Bechdel or race test.

Both Charles and Kenneth were in “Never Say Never to Always”; neither were defined by their sexual orientation; and while Kenneth wasn’t important to the plot of this episode (e.g. he could have been taken out of the episode and it wouldn’t have made much of a change to the plot), Charles was (e.g. the entire series is about Charles) so the episode passed the Russo test. The episode did not, however, pass the Bechdel test as the one or two times named women talked to each other they mentioned men, and the episode did not pass the race test because there were no non-White characters.

*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 show 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 show 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 television. 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 show.