The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Teen Wolf, “Parasomnia” – Season 5, Episode 2

In the second half of the premiere of Teen Wolf, an old childhood friend of Scott’s showed up and asked Scott if he could join his (Scott’s) pack. Scott, of course, felt like he should let his old friend join the pack, but Stiles wasn’t as gun ho about letting this new guy in and he (Stiles) was convinced that this friend was up to no good.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“Parasomnia” passed the Bechdel and race test but did not pass the Russo test.

Named women talked to each other a couple of times in “Parasomnia” and there was one instance where named women talked to each other without mentioning men (e.g., Lydia talked to her mom about Tracy) so the episode passed the Bechdel test. “Parasomnia” also passed the race test, and the episode passed this test because there were several occasions where non-White characters talked to each other without mentioning White people. For example, Scott and Kira talked to each other on two separate occasions about being seniors and about college without mentioning White people and there was one occasion where Dr. Deaton guided Scott through a medical procedure, and White people were also not mentioned in their conversation.

While “Parasomnia” passed the Bechdel and race test, it did not pass the Russo test, and the episode did not pass this test because even though there was a LGBTI character (Mason) in “Parasomnia,” the LGBTI character did not pass all of the Russo test’s requirements. For example, while it could be argued that Mason was not completely defined by his sexual orientation in “Parasomnia” (e.g., he was also determined, curious and a friend), Mason was not important to the plot of “Parasomnia” as he could have easily have been taken out of the episode without causing a huge change to occur to the plot (which means that Mason did not fulfill all of the Russo test’s requirements, and the episode did not pass the Russo test).

*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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