The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Hannibal, “Dolce” – Season 3, Episode 6

On Hannibal, “Dolce,” all of the players of Hannibal’s stage began to line up and assemble, and as they did so, they began to run into one another. The most important of these run-ins occurred between Will and Hannibal, and it is suffice to say that things didn’t exactly go well for Will (clue – Will was shot, drugged and invited to a private dinner hosted by Hannibal).

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

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

“Dolce” passed the Russo test because both Alana and Margot were in the episode and they were confirmed as being LGBTI; because neither woman was solely defined by her sexual orientation; and because both women were important to the plot of the episode since they both influenced Mason, and under their influence, Mason was able to capture Hannibal and Will. However, while “Dolce” passed the Russo test, it did not pass the Bechdel or race test.

“Dolce” did not pass the Bechdel test because even though there were several named women in the episode and there were a couple of occasions where these named women talked to each other, men were always mentioned when women talked to each other. And the episode did not pass the race test because the two non-White characters in the episode (Chiyo and Jack) never held a conversation (e.g., Jack and Chiyo had both gotten off on the same floor and Chiyo had remarked to Jack that she was on the wrong floor but Jack never actually responded back to her so the two never had an exchange).

*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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