The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Teen Wolf, “Dreamcatchers” – Season 5, Episode 3

Teen Wolf was all about the ladies in “Dreamcatchers.” In the episode, Tracy went on a killing spree while stuck in a night terror; Kira and Lydia worked on figuring out what was going on with Tracy; and Malia tracked down Tracy and put her killing spree to a stop.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

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

There were several named women in “Dreamcatchers” and there were several occasions where these named women talked to each other without mentioning men so the episode easily passed the Bechdel test. “Dreamcatchers” 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 (e.g., Mason told Kira that he didn’t know what a kitsune was and Dr. Deaton and Scott talked about Tracy). However, while the episode passed both the Bechdel and race test, it did not pass the Russo test.

While Mason (who is gay) was in “Dreamcatchers” and he was not solely defined by his sexual orientation (e.g., he was also a student, a friend and he was interested in the supernatural world), he didn’t add anything important to the plot of the episode and he could have easily have been taken out of the episode without causing any substantial change to the plot. Mason thus failed to pass all of the requirements of the Russo test, and “Dreamcatchers,” consequently, 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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