The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: iZombie, “Dead Rat, Live Rat, Brown Rat, White Rat” – Season 1, Episode 12

On iZombie, “Dead Rat, Live Rat, Brown Rat, White Rat,” Sebastian (the man who tried to kill Liv last episode) became a zombie and went on a killing spree. Liv, while aware that a zombie was committing murders, was unaware that Sebastian was a zombie. As far as she knew, he was still at the bottom of the lake as dead as a doornail. Liv was thus extremely surprised when she found him at her home, Peyton knocked out and Sebastian in full zombie mode. This, nonetheless, did not faze her for long for she soon had the fight of her life on her hands.

As to what Major was up to in this episode, well, let’s just say that he got into a whole heap of trouble (i.e., he was captured by Blaine).

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“Dead Rat, Live Rat, Brown Rat, White Rat” passed the Bechdel test but did not pass the Russo or race test.

There were several named women in “Dead Rat, Live Rat, Brown Rat, White Rat” and there were several occasions where named women talked to each other, but it was not these two factors that allowed the episode to pass the Bechdel test. What allowed “Dead Rat, Live Rat, Brown Rat, White Rat” to pass the Bechdel test was the fact that there was one instance (and one instance alone) where named women talked to each other without mentioning men (e.g., Liv and Peyton talked to each other about cycling and canceling their plans) thus fulfilling the Bechdel’s requirements (i.e., two women, who both have names, talking to each other without mentioning men). However, while “Dead Rat, Live Rat, Brown Rat, White Rat” passed the Bechdel test, it did not pass the Russo or race test.

“Dead Rat, Live Rat, Brown Rat, White Rat” failed to pass the Russo test because there were no LGBTI characters in the episode, and “Dead Rat, Live Rat, Brown Rat, White Rat” failed to pass the race test (despite the fact that there were several occasions where non-White characters talked to each other) because White people were always mentioned by non-White characters when they talked 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 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.

Advertisements