The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Hannibal, “Aperitivo” – Season 3, Episode 4

The frills and the overly artsy (and boring) scenes were trimmed off of the latest episode of Hannibal, “Aperitivo,” and the season finally started to pick up its pace which is good considering the fact Hannibal has been canceled and that season 3 will be its last season.

In this newest episode, the audience was shown what had happened to Jack, Alana, Frederick and Mason after Hannibal had fled, and it is suffice to say that none of them were happy that he had escaped.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“Aperitivo” passed the race test but did not pass Bechdel or Russo test.

There were two occasions where non-White characters talked to each other – when Jack and Bella talked about death and when Jack told Bella that he loved her – and on both of these occasions, White people were never mentioned by either of the non-White characters. These conversations thus both passed the requirements of the race test, and because of this, the episode itself passed the race test. However, while “Aperitivo” passed the race test it did not pass either the Bechdel or Russo test.

“Aperitivo” did not pass the Bechdel test because while there had been one instance where named women had talked to each other (e.g., Alana and Margot had discussed how Alana had arrived at the Verger residence), a man had been mentioned in their conversation (more specifically, the two had discussed Mason) so the conversation, and thus the episode, did not pass the Bechdel test.

As to why “Aperitivo” did not pass the Russo test, because there had been no LGBTI characters in the episode, it was impossible for “Aperitivo” to pass any of the Russo test’s requirements.

*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.

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