The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Scream, “Pilot” – Season 1, Episode 1

The Scream series premiered last night, and in the pilot, a young woman and man were mysteriously murdered; the murdered woman’s friends held a “wake” in celebration of the woman’s death; urban town legends were told; and all kinds of teen drama took place, including not-so-nice pranks, a viral outing, cheating and hookups.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

The pilot of Scream passed the Bechdel and Russo test but did not pass the race test.

Named women talked to each other on several occasions in the pilot episode of Scream, and in a few of those instances, named women talked to each other without mentioning men (e.g., Emma and Audrey talked about a party, about being friends and about the viral video on three separate occasions) so the episode passed the Bechdel test.

“Pilot” also passed the Russo test, but the episode did not pass this test based off of the character Audrey since she did not identify as being bisexual or a lesbian. Instead, the episode passed the Russo test because Rachel (who is assumedly bisexual or a lesbian since she’s in a relationship with Audrey and has not disavowed the label of lesbian or bisexual) was in “Pilot”; because Rachel was not solely defined by her sexual orientation (e.g., she was also known as a filmmaker and a student); and because she was important to the plot (e.g., she was important because Audrey’s storyline relied on the fact that she had a relationship with Rachel so if Rachel hadn’t been in the episode then Audrey’s storyline would have completely changed).

In regards to the race test, “Pilot” did not pass this test, and the episode did not pass this test because while there might have been a moment or two where non-White characters talked to each other, there was never an occasion where non-White characters did not mention White people while talking to other 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.