The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Aquarius, “Home Is Where You’re Happy” – Season 1, Episode 3

On Aquarius, “Home Is Where You’re Happy,” Sam discovered who had killed the drug dealer from the last episode, and Ken confronted Charles.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“Home Is Where You’re Happy” passed the Russo test but did not pass the Bechdel or race test.

Because Charles is a bisexual/pansexual; he was in “Home Is Where You’re Happy”; he was not solely defined by his sexual orientation (e.g., he was mostly defined by his cult leader status); and he was important to the plot (e.g., without him, there would be no show since Charles Manson is the basis of the show’s plot), “Home Is Where You’re Happy” passed the Russo test.*****

As to the Bechdel test, “Home Is Where You’re Happy” did not this test because in the one instance that named women did talk to each other, men were indirectly referenced (e.g., Grace told Emma that “they” [the men and women at the commune] didn’t care about Emma), and the episode did not pass the race test because the handful of non-White characters in the episode never spoke 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.

*****If Ken had been the only LGBTI character in “Home Is Where You’re Happy,” the episode would not have passed the Russo test because while he is gay, he was in the episode and he was important to the plot, Ken was mostly defined by his sexual orientation in “Home Is Where You’re Happy” (e.g., Ken spent the episode struggling with his sexual identity).

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